Gerry Thomasen's Blog

The first quarter of 2021 has been a mad scramble for people listing and buying investment properties in Nanaimo. This was already an over-charged segment of the market through 2020 (Covid caused a lot of people to put their money into real estate outside of bigger cities), but in 2021 it's been even more frenzied.

In 2020 we saw a seller's market, with homes selling within a week or two. But in 2021, the following is a typical sight:

  • Home is listed on a Tuesday
  • Showings are only allowed Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
  • Showings can only be thirty minutes long (to accommodate large numbers of buyers)
  • Offers reviewed on Sunday afternoon
  • Big bidding war ensues

This activity is fueled in part by investors wanting to buy a home to

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View of Nanaimo from College Heights

The real estate market in Nanaimo is heating up beyond expectations as we move into late January. We are seeing a LOT of bidding wars again, more so than at any point in 2020, I believe. I’ll quantify that a bit below.

First, let’s quickly summarize the 2020 statistics for single-family detached homes in Nanaimo:

  •          12.88% more homes sold in 2020 vs. 2019 (1306 vs. 1157)
  •          The average sale price increased 8.82% - from $562,175 in 2019, to $616,588 in 2020

When the pandemic was declared in March 2020, there was speculation of a general market crash and many people thought that home prices would fall. Activity slowed through April, but then it all picked up and it barely slowed down since, even through the Christmas

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Here's an exciting development - the old convent site downtown, behind New York Style Pizza - an application has been submitted to the City for building a big rental complex there.

Aerial view of site of proposed Telus Living condos in downtown Nanaimo

They have some good ideas for this one. There's an enclosed dog park and a kids' playground (with views) out back, plus a common area that includes an outdoor work bar above the street, a social lounge and outdoor dining space. There's even going to be a space for some community gardening. There are two buildings, one 6 storeys high and one 7 storeys. The taller building will have a common area on the rooftop, perfect for watching the fireworks I'm sure.

Artist's rendering of the Telus Living condosThis development is planned to include 197 residential units, a commercial retail unit and and a shared underground

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Are Realtors Contributing to Rising Costs?

Someone was ranting about rising housing costs and blaming it on realtors. Here are a few digestible points which indicate my view on this matter (spoiler: realtors are incentivized to keep prices lower).

First, let's look at WHY a person might accuse realtors of over-inflating prices. Why would an agent want to do that? There are two reasons:
1) We have done a good job for our seller client if we can get a higher price for them - we look good!
2) Since commission is usually a percentage of the sale price, a higher price will produce a higher commission to the agent.

The first point shouldn't have to be defended; and as I'll explain below, it's a force that is balanced by having another agent representing

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It's March 17, 2020 and the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is affecting daily life quite drastically.

Things are expected to get worse before they get better. In the past week, the situation has gone from "this seems like a bunch of hype" to "stay away from humans other than family/roommates unless you have good reason". There is widespread shutdown of facilities and on-site services.

In the real estate industry, there are a lot of questions from buyers like "Do I want to enter strangers' homes right now?" and "Is anyone even going to be buying anything at this time?". The answers to these are "That's up to you" and "Yes, absolutely". Homes are still selling in multiple offer scenarios (though I have certainly seen a slowdown of activity since

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Recognize this vacant lot? It's on that nutty stretch of highway between Townsite and Terminal Park.

Approximate Location of condo at 930 Terminal Ave, Nanaimo

I've been wondering what would be done with it, because it's fronted by a narrow four-lane highway and it has a creek in the back - so what is its highest and best use? A commercial building with live/work spaces?

Turns out there is going to be a condo building with 29 one/two bedroom units, plus 3 live/work townhomes and a cafe on the ground floor. This makes sense because they can tuck their parking underneath/behind, and there will be ocean views from some of the units, and great mountain/city views from others.

Concept rendering of west side of 930 Terminal Ave

The application was submitted in early 2019 and has now been approved by city council (DP001133). According to an article in

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In 2009 this old building was demolished at the corner of Milton St and Hecate St in Nanaimo's Old City/Nob Hill area. It was built in the 1940s or earlier (if someone knows when it was built, please comment below).

Egg Pool, aka granary, aka farmer's co-op - Nanaimo historical buildings

I took a bunch of photos before/during demolition because it was a fascinating building, very creepy in its latter days, and built with huge old-growth timbers considered almost priceless nowadays. In fact, some of the beams from this building were cut into veneer panels to be used in a high-end resort in Australia; the old copper nails had caused "blooms" of colour throughout the wood (not pictured here unfortunately).

Old growth timbers, Nanaimo

I posted a photo on Facebook some years ago, and someone said they used wood from this building in a home they

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UPDATE: This project was canceled in 2020 and the City has entered into an understanding (or so I was told) with BC Housing to construct something else, here.

Expected to be finished in 2020 or early 2021, this development will include seven buildings (181 suites) constructed in a close cluster along Third St, up on the hill between Howard Ave and Lambert Ave.

DLX on Third - Nanaimo Student Condos

This location will be perfect for VIU students as it's just a 10 minute walk to the classroom, or about 12 minutes to Nanaimo's downtown.

There will be a gym for residents, as well as a public restaurant with a study area and evening entertainment space.

The current plan is for the strata bylaws to allow unit owners to rent their properties to tenants. Pets are also planned to be

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Nanaimo heritage commercial buildingsYou might be hearing a lot in the news about price corrections in the Vancouver market, but it must be understood that Nanaimo's real estate market has its own characteristics and is developing very differently.

While home SALES in Nanaimo have decreased sharply (Sept 2018 sales were down about 36% from the previous September), PRICES are still rising - September sale prices were more than 10% higher in Nanaimo than they were a year ago.

How do we explain the decrease in sales? It's widely suggested that the number of buyers has diminished because of prudent regulatory measures such as the mortgage stress test, increased interest rates, and increased sales taxes on various types of real estate purchases. But because Nanaimo has a lot of older buyers

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It was announced by Infrastructure Canada that their "Smart Cities Challenge" is offering money to municipalities who have ideas for applying technological solutions to city issues. The City of Nanaimo requested submissions from citizens, in a bid to get the best ideas so that we can get the funding!

Here was my submission (below), proposing an app that allows pedestrians downtown to interact with the HISTORIC space around them. It is framed in the ministry's requested format: presenting an issue and proposing a technological solution.

=begin=

St Andrews Church, Nanaimo, past and present from the same vantage

The City of Nanaimo faces an issue when it comes to perception from tourists and from many of the city’s own citizens. Although the historic downtown core has popular oceanfront parks and boutique

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