Sooke remains an attractive housing option on the lower Island real estate market.
And, although there has been a slowdown in housing starts, Rory Kulmala of the Vancouver Island Construction Association maintains that interest in residential construction in Sooke remains strong.
One indicator of the strength of that market seems to indicate the contrary, however, as the number of building permits issued in Sooke for all of 2018 to date total only 166 permits issued.
When compared to 2017 when 226 permits were issued, marking what was reported then as being a 37 percent increase over the previous year, the building permit stats alone indicate a cooling of the market.
Asked about those numbers, Kulmala warned they need to be taken with a grain of salt.
“Building permit numbers alone don’t provide an accurate representation of the market,” he said.
“Our statistics show that, while there was a slight decline from August to September the numbers in a total of new housing starts are still up from a year ago.”
Kumala said the market may have gone “a little hot” for a while and that it is now moderating a bit, but that the overall numbers for housing on the lower Island are still very strong.
Certainly, a part of the attractiveness of the Sooke housing market is related to the fact that the community offers small town hospitality, stunning ocean views, a rich history and a wide array of recreational activities.
But a major selling feature of the community continues to be the price.
A recent report by the Canadian Real Estate Magazine lists the median house price for a four-bedroom home at less than $600,000.
According to the Victoria Real Estate Board, a comparable home in Victoria is now more than $900,000 and rising.
“I think there was a bit of pent-up demand in Sooke that affected the numbers in 2017, but the market here is still very strong, and a lot of that is related to price,” said Paul Clarkston of Clarkston Construction.
“One issue that might be slowing things down a little is the availability of land for construction. The [Capital Regional District] really doesn’t have strong rural development practices in this area and there is a real lack of available land west of Sooke that might be slowing things down.”
Kumala agreed that land is always an issue on the southern part of Vancouver Island and that it’s important for regulations and planning to take that into account when setting policies for development.
Mike Hicks, representing the CRD in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, floated the idea that the speculation tax brought into play by the provincial government may be playing a role in cooling the real estate market and may also have had an impact on housing starts.
“I know that in some regions the mayors of various municipalities have complained about the tax, but it’s hard to say for certain that it has had an affect on housing starts,” said Hicks.
“I know that in Shirley and Otter Point, we’re still very busy (in housing construction). I’d say that there’s a comfortable growth that’s happening.”