Thursday, 23 March 2023

Foreign Buyers Ban

Several laws came into effect at the beginning of the year which directly affect real estate. One in particular that is getting a lot of discussion is the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians (Foreign Buyers Ban).

As the name implies, this ban does not apply to Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. It applies to all non-Canadians wanting to purchase residential property in Canada, and the ban is in place for a period of two years starting January 1, 2023. This is a federal law covering all of Canada.

It is still taking time for the real estate industry to become familiar with the rules of this ban, including lawyers, managing brokers and realtors. As there are financial repercussions for those caught assisting someone in contravention of the ban, making sure it is understood and handled correctly is important.  Now that it has been in place for about three months, there is a better understanding of what the ban does.

In broad strokes, the ban is to prevent a foreign buyer from purchasing a residence in an urban area. The urban areas under the ban are defined by way of the Canada Census. What we have learned at BCO is that most of our properties, regardless of whether or not they have a residence on them, fall outside of those restricted areas.

What this means is that most of our properties are not impacted by the ban (there are restrictions for properties in Campbell River and the Comox Valley).

We know the headlines made this seem like foreign buyers would not be able to purchase at all in Canada for the next two years, but that isn’t the full story. There are still lots of opportunities for non-Canadians to purchase in Canada, if they are willing to look beyond the urban areas.

If you have any questions about how this ban applies to one of our listings, or an area you are interested in buying in, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For more information on this new act, check out these links:

To read the Act itself, visit Justice Laws Website

To read more information, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website


It’s a Coastal Lifestyle … Live It!

Thursday, 9 March 2023

BCO Coastal Gems: The Magic of Malcolm Island

 It is common knowledge in the BCO office that Malcolm Island is one of Kate's favourite places to visit. What makes this coastal gem special?

1. The village of Sointula. This picturesque town sits on the eastern shore of a large bay on the southern shore of Malcolm Island. The name means 'place of harmony' in Finnish, named by the Finnish immigrants who arrived there in the early 1900s looking for a better way of life. That history is still reflected in the town and its buildings. It has also been an active fishing centre in the region, as evidenced by the docks and netlofts still seen along the shore. Walking around the vibrant village is a great way to spend the day, taking in the historical sites, colourful homes and many small businesses. Sointula has shopping, fuel services, private and public docks, a library and a medical clinic among other amenities. There is a vibrant community of approx. 800 on the island mostly in Sointula. The residents are an eclectic mix of old-time families, artists, fishermen and those looking for a quieter life. There  is also rich First Nations heritage, as is common along all of the west coast.

2. Whale watching. Malcolm Island is in the heart of the Broughton Archipelago and as such is well placed for wildlife viewing. Orcas and humpback whales frequent the area and can be observed in the waters off the island regularly. Bere Point on Malcolm Island is renowned as well for its rubbing beaches, places where the orcas come and rub along the cobble stones at the sloping edge of the shoreline. Kate was fortunate enough to witness a large group of Orca at Bere Point late in August one year.

3. Hiking and outdoor activities. Malcolm Island is a great base for outdoor activity. There are a number of good hiking trails, including the Beautiful Bay Trail between Bere Point and Malcolm Point. Pulteney Point lighthouse sits on the northeast point of the island and is accessible by a nice beach walk. Boat tours, fishing and kayaking are all popular activities to participate in while staying on the island as well.

There is regular car ferry access to the island from the BC Ferries terminal in Port McNeill on Vancouver Island. There are a few campsites on the island, including Bere Point Regional Park campground as well as a number of B&Bs and guest houses. The main roads along the eastern shore are paved, while the further out roads are gravel.

Malcolm Island sits at the junction of Queen Charlotte Strait, Broughton Strait and Johnstone Strait off the northern end of Vancouver Island. To learn more about visiting Sointula, click here.


It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!


Thursday, 23 February 2023

Power Supply on Recreational and Remote Properties

If you want to turn on lights, run an electric appliance, etc on a remote or recreational property then you need to know how you're going to bring in the power.

lights powered by a solar system

Some properties are close enough to small communities that they can hook into existing BC Hydro power supplies. There are even boat access communities, such as Quatsino on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, that actually have power from BC Hydro. This is then just like obtaining power for any new property - lines need to be accessed and power brought into the property through coordination with BC Hydro, neighbouring properties and local communities.

power poles along Quatsino Rd

For properties beyond the scope of BC Hydro, off-grid options have to be investigated. Many of the older, more established remote properties will have gas generators of some sort, generally using propane. A battery bank is usually used to store power so that the generators aren't running all the time. A system like this requires gas to be brought on to the property, this is frequently done by barge in the island communities and delivery truck if required on some of the ferry-serviced islands or remote road-access areas.

Solar power has become an attractive option for some, and it is not unusual to see a house or cottage with an array of solar panels on the roof, or even standing up on the ground in a particularly sunny location. These solar panel arrays generally supply a battery bank which stores the energy. Some properties will use solar power but keep a gas generator on hand as an emergency back-up system.

battery bank and solar panel array

Even if solar is the main power source, there may still be gas used for kitchen appliances. This will be stored in a tank on the property and piped in to the required areas. Stoves and fridges are the most common, as well as some heaters.

For properties with access to running water such as a creek there is the option of personal use hydro-power. This requires a license for the water use, and on a good, strong water source can be a great power supply. There are a variety of set-ups depending on the amount of power required.

All of the options have pros and cons when it comes to upkeep, initial cost of installation and materials, efficiency, etc. It requires some good research both on the options and the property itself. At BCO we have a good deal of information on alternative energy and are always looking out for new and innovative ideas in power for remote/recreational properties.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 9 February 2023

A BCO Field Trip

With several new listings out over the past couple of weeks, there have definitely been some office field trips. These are always adventures that require a lot of logistics and pre-planning. But when the weather cooperates and the sun comes out, winter field trips can be awesome.

Greg and Ed spent two days traveling to both the eastern and western side of the north island at the beginning of February. This trip involved some potential listing visits as well as getting signs up on new listings, so lots to coordinate and long days. Looking for property pins, flagging boundaries, taking photos, confirming access, putting up signs - all part of the work to be done when visiting a property.

The team always comes back from these field trips with great photos of not just the properties but also sights seen along the way!

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 26 January 2023

BCO Coastal Gems: Alert Bay

The Village of Alert Bay is located on Cormorant Island in the only bay on the island that provides sheltered moorage on a year-round basis. The community averages about 450 year-round residents and the village provides a range of services, including a health centre, pharmacy, restaurants, gift shops and liquor store all located within walking distance of the ferry. Alert Bay Boat Harbour provides moorage, showers and laundry facilities. Just outside of the village is a non-commercial air strip, convenient for personal aircraft as well as for emergency services. Alert Bay is rich in cultural heritage and easily accessible by a scenic ferry ride from Port McNeill.

Activities such as whale watching, eco-tours, kayaking, hiking and biking are popular, and the area provides lots of great fishing opportunities.

Alert Bay is the gateway to Knight and Kingcome Inlets and is close to the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park, a wilderness area consisting of a maze of several small islands, inlets and adjacent foreshore at the southern end of Queen Charlotte Strait. The numerous remote, solitary islands in the marine park provide access to some of the world’s most phenomenal waterways and coastlines, with an array of indigenous marine and coastal wildlife, tremendous scenery, unlimited and unique fishing, yachting and wildlife viewing opportunities and almost endless exploring.

 It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 12 January 2023

5 Steps to Prepare for Travelling in Remote Areas

 The BCO team spends a fair bit of time travelling in remote areas, both on northern Vancouver Island and on the surrounding small islands as well as the mainland. Some of this travelling is done by boat, some by car, and sometimes the team flies in - but planning for these trips regardless of transportation method has some things in common.

1. Have a paper map with you. GPS is well and good, but batteries fail, satellite reception and definitely cell reception can be dodgy in heavily forested areas. Backroad mapbooks are a great resource to have for remote travel. When you are going by boat charts are good. If we are headed to an oceanfront property any photos we can print of the shoreline to help us identify where we are are good, as are Google Earth photos and any online mapping we can print out.

2. Have gravel road equipment in your vehicle. Make sure your spare tire is inflated, and that you have a working jack. Have a shovel for if you get stuck (and if you hit snow, from October to April it is common to hit snow at higher elevations). A small hatchet or chainsaw can come in handy for any downed branches/tree limbs on roads and long driveways. Sturdy gloves can be useful.

3. Let someone know your travel plan, and let them know when you're back. When one of the team heads out on a field trip, the rest of us know where they are going. And, they let us know when they are back in town.

4. Have outdoor gear with you. Sometimes it is easy to leave home in town with your runners on and light gear, only to find muddy, wet ground and wet undergrowth that you end up tromping through. Or in summer you head out in shorts only to end up walking through overgrown trails and getting scratched up. This summer some of our team ended up at a property that was unexpectedly heavy with mosquitoes - bug spray and long sleeves were definitely needed!

5. Prepare for the unexpected. Roads will be blocked, weather will change, properties (or parks, or trails) will be hard to find. The more you can prepare for these to happen, the better your trip will go. Don't book an appointment for later that day, because that will ensure something will stop you getting back in time!

It can be easy to head out from the south end of the island and not realize just how vast and remote the north island and surrounding islands can be. A little time spent preparing means your adventure can be enjoyable, rather than frustrating.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 29 December 2022

Looking Forward to 2023

We are always excited about a new year. At the time of writing this newsletter, we are hard at work with our goal setting for 2023. Creating new plans with new ideas as well as refining our existing plans definitely gets us looking forward to the start of the year.

The real estate market in general is uncertain right now. What we know is that for sellers pricing a property correctly is crucial to having success. As a team that has experienced the highs and lows of real estate through the years, we know how to evaluate and market a property to make it attractive to the right buyer as well as help a seller understand what the current economics of the day mean for selling a property at that time.

Inventory for remote and recreational properties remains extremely limited. There are buyers looking for these properties, as evidenced by the fact that when a good one comes on the property it is attracting a lot of attention and in some cases still selling quickly. Pricing is important but in this niche market inventory is what makes the difference. Buyers need properties to look at!

As predictions indicate the interest rates for now will remain higher than last year, we expect the market to continue a little slower and for average prices to come down a bit more. However, people still need to sell properties and buy properties and as people adjust to the new market both buyers and sellers will gain confidence and settle into the reality of the moment.

We look forward to more work trips in the field, as with three agents scheduling these trips out of office is getting easier. Our goal is always to provide excellent service to all our clients, both buyers and sellers.

Finally, we wish you all a stellar 2023, however that might look for you. If buying or selling real estate is part of your plans for the year we are here to talk anytime.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!