Last year's real estate market activity was unprecedented in Nanaimo as it was in Vancouver. Prices increased as much as 13% (single family) in Nanaimo through the year, and average prices in January 2017 were up 30% from the previous January! The numbers of units sold (all residential types) also rose significantly from 2015 to 2016.

This boom appears to have been a result of a strong provincial economy, a weak dollar, population growth, and low inventory levels.

Record-low interest rates also fueled some of this activity. But in October the federal government effectively reduced how much buyers can borrow, so there may be some cooling of demand, or at least of pricing, in 2017 [later edit: Nope].

But regional factors suggest a continued upward trend. Vancouver's market has famously priced out most British Columbians. Many buyers looking to Victoria as an alternative are shut out of that market, too. Therefore, many are keeping jobs in the big city but choosing to commute from Nanaimo; this is fueling, and is fueled by, the increase of transportation methods across the gulf - like helijet, and the latest prospects for a fast ferry.

View across harbour and gulf to mainlandThere are also those restrictions imposed by Vancouver on foreign buyers - and this is not a factor on Vancouver Island - so I'm expecting more demand for Nanaimo real estate by foreign buyers.

However, it remains to be seen how much more or less activity there will be in comparison to 2016. Buying certainly appears to have been delayed while the market watches to see if governments and regulators will change the rules again.

Seller's Market

A significant factor in Nanaimo's market is its lack of available inventory. Buyers must act quickly to be competitive, and many transactions are seeing multiple offers above list price, within a day of a property going to market.

I know of someone who was sweeping their driveway last summer, and a stranger approached them:
"Are you sweeping because you are selling your house?"
"No, I'm just sweeping up."
"Well, would you consider selling your house?"

Got questions about how to act in this volatile market? I can help. Contact me.

Posted by Gerry Thomasen on
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