This page is filtered to show my posts about the Nanaimo real estate market, going back a few years. Also some info about real estate taxes, and announcements for new builds. 

When looking at houses, my clients will often ask me, “Would we be allowed to build a carriage house on this property?”

A “carriage house” is a detached garage with a dwelling unit above it, but the term is also used more loosely to refer to any secondary suite in an accessory building (a building that is DETACHED from the main dwelling).

In this article, I will go over the BASIC requirements needed for adding a carriage house in Nanaimo. This should obviously not be used as a definitive source for evaluating how the regulations will apply in any specific case!

General

No secondary suites (detached or not) are permitted to have more than 2 bedrooms or more than one kitchen. A manufactured/mobile home may not be used as a suite.

Suites in…

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It was announced in 2009, and it seemed far-fetched to me at the time. But now that a new push has been announced (on the City's "What's Building" resource), this master development feels like it could happen anytime.

The Sandstone lands will span from the Nanaimo River Estuary to Cinnabar Valley, with the RDN landfill roughly in the center. (The landfill is expected to be converted to parkland some day, according to the currently published development application materials. I confess I am curious about how the smell of the landfill will be mitigated for residents nearest to the landfill, but I'm confident that there is premium long-term potential here.)

Satellite photo showing outline of future Sandstone development lands in the south of Nanaimo.

The "Cedar Rd North" precinct will be close to the estuary and I would expect it to be the…

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You may have noticed the old Northfield Mines site being re-developed in recent years - especially the mountains they've moved behind the Christ Community Church (see below). Well, there is an effort underway to develop a mixed-use complex in the location shown below. 

Satellite image showing proposed Mid-Town Gateway Project development west of Bowen Rd and north of Northfield Rd in Nanaimo, with some landmarks identified

The complex is planned to include a grocery store in the center, with retail buildings along the perimeter. and with residential units perched above the retail builds. 

I'm sure there are still many hurdles for this development to overcome, not least the purchase of the private properties along Northfield where there are already some homes established. But I wanted to show this plan, as something of interest to people who live and work in the area!

 


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Something that comes up a LOT in my conversations with clients, is the "ASSESSED VALUE" of properties. Buyers are often concerned when the ASKING PRICE for a property is above its ASSESSED VALUE.

The concern is reasonable. If "the government" says a rancher is worth $400,000 then it seems reckless to pay $500,000 for that property. (But it's normal.)

Below, I'll talk about market value vs. assessed value - and I have pulled together some very relevant, local data to show some relationship trends between these numbers.

What is Assessed Value?

Each property in British Columbia is given an assessed value (updated every year) by the BC Assessment Authority. This system was created for property tax purposes - the local governments need a "fair"…

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This post talks about some of the taxes which can apply when you're purchasing (or holding) real estate in Nanaimo and the surrounding areas. Please note: I am not an authority; consult your accountant or tax advisor!

Jump to the sections on this page:

  • Property Taxes
  • Property Transfer Tax
  • Foreign Buyers Tax
  • Speculation & Vacancy Tax
  • Empty Homes Tax
  • GST

Property Taxes

Most people are already familiar with this kind of real estate tax. It is charged by your local municipality or district and is used to fund local services like schools, police, firefighting, hospitals, road construction, parks, and much more.

The rate is applied against the "assessed value" of your property, as calculated each…

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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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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 season. Most agree that the…

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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.

This 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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