End of year brings frozen real estate market in Sooke

‘It’s a bit scary what’s happening with the market right now,’ says local realtor Fiona Phythian

As the end of the year approaches, the weather in Sooke isn’t the only thing cooling down – the real estate market is too, says local realtors.

“We see this every year,” said Sooke realtor Tim Ayres. “It’s certainly a seasonal businesses, and most of the sales take place in the first half of the year.”

However, it isn’t just the change of seasons that is causing the market to dwindle.

Ayres said interest rates are going up, making it harder to qualify as a home-buyer, and in turn, people are more hesitant to put their house up for sale fearing they might not be able to find another.

“People don’t have as much access to buying power as they once did,” he said. “People are afraid their house will sell and they’ll have nowhere to go because they don’t qualify for more money to move up in the market.”

Another Sooke real estate agent, Fiona Phythian, agreed, saying that people are stuck because if their houses sell, there’s nowhere to rent in Sooke, either.

“It’s a bit scary what’s happening with the market right now,” said Phythian. “People still want to come here though, who wouldn’t? Sooke is an amazing place.”

She explained that even people who are buying land here are having a hard time finding builders.

Ayres added that most of the houses being built in developments around Sooke have already been spoken for, which contributes to the market being at a bit of a standstill.

“There’s no entry-level townhouses, no condos under construction, there’s nothing out there that I’ve heard of lately for the first-time buyers, which is the building block of the market,” said Ayres. “It’s a bit of a vicious cycle right now.”

He explained that in the last 18 months he has sold quite a few homes to a variety of people such as first-time buyers, families, and retirees, coming from both on and off the Island.

“We’re definitely growing, we just can’t keep up with the demand,” said Ayres. “It’s not that people aren’t wanting to move here, big issue right now is lack of inventory, there’s nothing to buy.”

Ayres said he’s seen an increase in buyer interest in Sooke, and believes it’s not only due to the amount of natural beauty and resources we have at our disposal such as hiking trails and water for fishing, but because of the increase in businesses in the community.

“People are excited about the different types of businesses that have been opening here in the past few years, like the brewery for example,” he said. “And the fact that the town core is looking a little nicer than it used to with the roundabout and the landscaping, I think it just puts more of a fresh face on the town. It looks like a nice place to live that cares about its image.”

He added that although houses are more affordable in Sooke which attracts buyers, there is also less competition.

“In places like Victoria there is a low availability and often multiple buyers, out here you get a bit more of a selection, and chances are you would be the only buyer,” said Ayres.

Both Phythian and Ayres said they don’t expect this slump to last, and believe that things will start to pick back up in the new year.

“As we get closer in to the fall and the end of the year, we usually see a decrease in the number of listings and number of sales, it follows a seasonal pattern,” he said. “I could see the start of next year be similar to the start of this year because we are starting at such a low level again, I think it’s going to be a pretty strong market come 2018.”

Phythian said a lot of people selling here tend to move to Langford, and because Langford has so much development happening right now that it will help the Sooke market.

“I think 2018 will be a great year. There’s so much build happening everywhere, so sellers will have somewhere to go,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve seen our high yet. Last year was great, this year was a little bit slow but I think 2018 is going to pick back up and be a bumper year.”