Generation X is driving activity in B.C.’s recreational property market in areas like Vancouver Island and Whistler, according to Re/Max Canada’s 2023 Cottage Trends report.
This generation – made up of families, couples and retirees – is propelling demand in these areas with the hope of passing on the property to family in the future. Across Canada, 74 per cent of owners feel confident that they will be able to seamlessly pass down their recreational property to family, according to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of Re/Max Canada.
“Values will just continue to increase over time and the recreational property market has just continued to be very attractive for people because of that,” Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president at Re/Max of Western Canada, said after the report’s April 27 release.
The ability to work from home has also driven demand for recreational properties following the height of the pandemic.
“There’s a blurring of lines between work and recreational lifestyle, [and] the ability to, in some instances, buy recreational property as a principal residence and enjoy that lifestyle and remain able to work there,” Ash said.
He said there was heightened activity in Kelowna, and the areas surrounding SilverStar Mountain Resort and Big White Ski Resort this past winter.
“Buyers are still a little cautious given market interest rates and economic influences. Alberta is doing very well, though, in that regard. And so Alberta drives a lot of the recreational market in British Columbia, especially when we look at the Windermere Valley into the Thompson-Okanagan region,” Ash said.
The average residential price in Whistler decreased by 13.4 per cent to $1,623,452, between the first quarter of 2022 and 2023. Prices increased in Ucluelet 12 per cent to $764,000 during the same time period, while Tofino had no sales in the first quarter of 2023.
The lack of American buyers contributed to the muted activity on Vancouver Island, with Seattle buyers previously accounting for a notable segment of the market, according to Ash.
American investment primarily drove market activity in these areas in the early to mid-2000s. Ash attributed the dampened activity to unfavourable economic conditions rather than Canada’s foreign buyer ban.
“Ucluelet and Tofino have historically had a strong American influence in that market. It's not surprising that that was muted because they're going through a greater economic adjustment than what Canada is,” he said.
Buyer confidence is expected to increase this year as the months grow hotter, according to the report.