Ihor Zalubniak remembers the nightmarish Highway 99 drive to Squamish, the local trails that were still hidden gems and a one-trick economy.
Now, more than 30 years later, Zalubniak is calling Squamish home again and only the lakes and mountains have remain unchanged.
Zalubniak left Squamish for a bigger world-Toronto, Vancouver, Maple Ridge—but kept coming back for outdoor recreation.
When he started dating a woman from Squamish, he knew it was time to call the town his home once again.
“Squamish was always the place where I knew I’d like to live,” he said.
Professionals from Vancouver, young families looking to find affordable housing, and seniors wanting to be close to grandkids are making their way to Squamish.
“Single family homes under $700,000 are selling very well in the Squamish real estate market.” Realtor Jack Fowler
A realtor in Lower Mainland, Zubniak is part of that cohort, the group that makes up 30 to 40 per cent sales of homes in Squamish.
It’s been a busy year for many local realtors and if sales activity is any indication, it’s only going to get busier.
Compared over six years, in a four month period, home sales have almost tripled. In 2009, at the height of recession, 56 homes were sold between January and April.
In 2014, as many as 146 homes have been sold in that same time period.
“We are in a very active market currently, perhaps more so than any time in the past 10 years,” says realtor Eleanore McKenzie.
‘Every other phone call,’ she says, is from someone in the city enquiring about Squamish real estate.
Close to 30 per cent buyers are coming from the Lower Mainland, with lots of buyers under 40 with young families attracted to the outdoor lifestyle.
A comfortable drive on the highway, positive press coverage, and new attraction such as Gondola are all factors, but the real deal clincher may be the affordability of Squamish.
Lisa Bjornson, a managing broker with Royal LePage Black Tusk Realty, said there are only two communities that have prices below Squamish, Maple Ridge and Sunshine Coast.
The median price of a home in Maple Ridge is $480,000, and $356,000 on the Sunshine coast.
In Squamish, the media price of a home is $539,000, slightly high than those two communities, but still affordable compared to North Vancouver ($1,095,000), Coquitlam ($750,000) and Burnaby ($1,000,000).
The comparative value is making the Squamish real estate market more lucrative, says local realtor Jack Fowler.
Fowler says this year has been the busiest for him compared to last five years. The pace has also picked up, with sellers and buyers motivated to sign deals rather than just wait.
“Single family homes under $700,000 are selling very well in the Squamish real estate market,” he said.
Property values remain stable
Property values have remained stable in the Sea to Sky region in the last two years, said Dharmesh Sisodraker, a deputy assessor with BC assessment.
“Most home owners in the Vancouver Sea to Sky region will see modest changes in the -5 to +5 range,” he said.
Overall, BC assessment roll increased by a total of almost $4.7 billion.
In individual assessment examples (not averages) a home in Brackendale showed a slight increase, while a downtown home showed a slight decrease.
As sales increase and housing inventory shrinks, prices will increase to reflect demand.
Based on his experience, local realtor Jack Fowler guesses prices could increase by 5 to 10 per cent by the end of this year.