The real estate market in the Cowichan Valley is suffering a lack of inventory making it a seller’s market. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

The real estate market in the Cowichan Valley is suffering a lack of inventory making it a seller’s market. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sellers rejoice, home buyers frustrated as prices up, inventory low in Cowichan Valley

Demand for homes in the Cowichan Valley is exceeding supply, driving up prices and frustrating potential buyers, according to local realtors.

It’s a trend being seen across B.C. from bigger cities to even the smallest of towns, agreed Ally Earle, owner of RE/MAX Lake Cowichan.

“Yes we definitely are for sure,” Earle said. “Inventory is extremely low and we have a large amount of buyers that are looking to purchase in the Cowichan Lake area. We are slowly starting to see more inventory come available. However, until we have enough supply to meet the demand, I predict the market will stay strong for awhile.”

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, Duncan has reported a benchmark price of $578,500, an increase of 15 per cent from March 2020.

Lack of inventory is a problem across the province but it has reached a point of crisis on Vancouver Island, according to 2021 VIREB president Ian Mackay.

“Demand-side policies like taxes and higher mortgage rates have done little to remedy our inventory issue, which is a decade-old problem,” says Mackay. “Vancouver Island has always been popular with retirees, but COVID-19 and the option of remote work are now attracting younger buyers. Competition is fierce, and we don’t see that abating any time soon.”

Caitlin McKenna of Sutton Group Duncan said that “the big problem is that inventory is at historical lows.

“The number of single family home sales in March was 79 homes,” she said. “There’s a lot more than 79 people looking. There’s thousands and thousands.”

The average price of those homes was $734,450, which continues to make the Cowichan Valley a desirable place to live, McKenna noted, because it’s much more expensive in urban centres, for a lot less space and quality.

“There is fantastic value in the Valley,” she said. “People want to take advantage of that. The pandemic has shifted how people do their jobs, meaning many of which are no longer tied to a desk at an office.

“We have younger people getting out of cities as they look to make the most of remote work, who are now working from home and are flexible with their jobs,” she said. “Why buy an expensive condo now when you can move out here and have a full house with a yard?”

McKenna also said house hunters from other urban centres are also now realizing that “to stay in Canada, if you want to live in one of the more beautiful places without the harsh winters, you’ve got to move west.”

And that’s not to mention the retirees from the greater Toronto and Calgary areas that want to settle on the Island in their golden years.

“There’s a lot more competition and the inventory isn’t coming up,” she said. “It’s a sustained low inventory.”

And, when you take into account the fact that many people won’t be able to afford the average cost of a home in this region, the inventory gets that much smaller for them.

“It’s not enough at all price points,” she said. “It’s a very strong sellers market.”

Even so, she said, like all things, real estate is cyclical and McKenna believes more homes, townhouses, and condos will come on the market and eventually things will adjust. “But for now, sellers are doing really well.”

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