Bowen Island, Sunshine Coast homes lead pandemic-period price parade

Home prices on Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast have increased more than three times faster than in Greater Vancouver since COVID-19 detected in February

Sechelt, Sunshine Coast: home prices up 10.6 per cent since February | Getty Images

In the six months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, home prices on Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast have increased more than three times higher than in Greater Vancouver, part of a startling recovery that saw July home sales surge 22.3 per cent from a month earlier and eclipse the 10-year average for the month.

Bowen Island home prices have surged 13.7 per cent since February and they are up 10.6 per cent on the Sunshine Coast. This compares with a benchmark price increase of just 3 per cent in Greater Vancouver in the same period, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast are both resort communities accessible by BC Ferries from West Vancouver.

Higher sales in outlier markets has been a noticeable trend across British Columbia in the past few months, based on data from the BC Real Estate Association.

As of June, 70 per cent  of  the B.C. residential properties sold were transacted outside of Greater Vancouver.

Some realtors believe the pandemic has persuaded more city dwellers to consider living and working from home in smaller towns and rural locations.

“The bottom line is, for some, what used to be appealing about living in the city –  its crowds, culture and public events – no longer count as pros but as cons,” said Freddie Marks, an agent with 3A Group, Sutton Showplace Realty in Agassiz, who specializes in rural property.

It is not all about lower prices. The benchmark composite home price on bucolic Bowen Island in July was $1.04 million, slightly higher than the $1.03 benchmark in Greater Vancouver.

The Sunshine Coast composite home price is $629,000.

The higher sales in Metro Vancouver are due to a trio of factors, according to the REBGV. 

“We're seeing the results today of pent up activity, low interest rates and a limited supply,” summed up REBGV chairwoman Colette Gerber.

The REBGV reports that residential home sales totalled 3,128 in July 2020, a 28 per cent increase from the 2,443 homes sold in June 2020.  Sales were 9.4 per cent above the 10-year July sales average.