Thursday 28 December 2017

BCO: Looking Forward to 2018

A new year can sometimes bring new challenges. As you may be aware, the Superintendent of Real Estate in BC has recently brought some new changes into the way real estate assistance is delivered to clients. One of the changes which will have a larger impact on our office than perhaps others is the elimination of Limited Dual Agency. In the past and especially with our recreational properties, we have been able to work on behalf of both seller and buyer with their permission and understanding of what that means. We will no longer be able to provide this service. The new rules come into effect in March 2018 and we are still working out how the BCO Team is going to approach these changes. Our clients’ best interests are always at the front of mind and will continue to be as we move forward in this changing real estate landscape.

Campbell River continues to thrive, serving as a hub for many coastal industries. The City continues to promote a diverse economic and cultural community, and there is a lot of physical development happening throughout. Perhaps the biggest draw to Campbell River though is the lifestyle it provides – giving some of the best access to beaches, lakes, mountains and forests of anywhere on the coast.

In the recreational market we have seen some long standing inventory be consumed and a start in an upward trend in prices.

While there continues to be a steady small presence of American and international buyers, the majority of people looking at properties on the BC Oceanfront website are Canadian, predominantly from the island and lower mainland. Buyers are looking for recreational property close to home, and many are exploring downsizing from a larger family home to a smaller residence plus a recreational property.

Early in 2018 we look forward to introducing a selection of private lakefront acreages on northern Vancouver Island – something not seen before.

The BCO Team wishes all our clients a contented holiday season and we look forward to working with you in 2018.

Thursday 14 December 2017

BCO Coastal Gem: Winter Harbour

On the north-west tip of Vancouver Island sits the community of Winter Harbour. Renowned for access to amazing west coast fishing, this small village is home to about 20 full-time residents yet services hundreds of people during the fishing season. Well-protected moorage, services in the village, and (gravel) road access make this a popular choice with fishermen and adventurers looking to access the northern west coast of Vancouver Island.

The boardwalk adds a charm to this village, and is a nice walk. It's also a great spot to watch the boats or just look out over the water. There is a nice walking trail in the village as well. Winter Harbour has its own Post Office, and a small general store. There are a number of fishing charter companies that base out of Winter Harbour, and the docks do get busy in the summer.

Winter Harbour is a great place to visit while exploring Northern Vancouver Island, providing vistas that not many people get a chance to see.

Winter Harbour is at the mouth of Quatsino Sound, and is also accessible by boat from Coal Harbour (45 - 60 minute boat ride). The drive in from Port Hardy can take up to 2 hours, and it is advised that you watch for logging trucks!

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

Thursday 7 December 2017

Winters on the West Coast

Winter weather on the west coast is tough to predict. Yes generally it is rainy and grey, but then some years you get unexpected sunshine in December. Most years in February you can count on some days of sunshine. Some years we get a lot of snow while other years we get barely a trace.

Being by the coast though, winters are always beautiful. The light in winter is different, even on sunny days, with the sun further south and not directly overhead as it is in the summer. The storms are breathtaking. While the grey can sometimes be monotonous, it can also provide calm.

Right now we are in the midst of warmer days and cooler nights, which on the coast means one thing -- fog! Some days the sun is breaking through, but many days right at the water's edge the fog stays. As soon as you get up a hill or away from the water, you see the blue sky above. Eerie and magical all at once.

We are used to being called the wet coast, but true west coasters learn to embrace the wacky west coast winters. It gives us abundant green foliage (our lawns are greenest in the winter and our many evergreens dominate the landscape), exhilarating storms and misty fog. 

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

Thursday 30 November 2017

2018 BCO Calendar

This is the third year we have had a custom calendar made. The process doesn't get any easier though - sorting out which photos to choose from the thousands we take every year is daunting! How do we showcase the best of the coastal areas we market?!

Through the year Kate keeps copies of some of the best photos in a separate folder. Then starting in September she looks through and starts adding in photos taken on road trips, property visits and excursions taken by team members. When she has about 30 photos they are given to the team. Each person in the office selects their top 13 photos and marks them on the back (with no peeking at other people's choices until you're done!). This year with three of us choosing we had at least 9 that we all selected and a number of others that at least two of us chose, so it was clear which ones we were going to use.

We work with RH Printing here in Campbell River who designed the original calendar for us, and send them our artwork.

This year's calendars have gone out in the mail and the day they were delivered we received two emails.

"Thank you for the beautiful calendar that arrived in the mail today.  It makes me want to venture out and see some of those amazing places that I haven't visited."

"Having been lucky enough to get one from you over the last couple of years, I would like to share my opinion that the pictures and the quality of the photos on the final product is simply exquisite."

We love the coast, we live the coastal lifestyle and we are so fortunate to be able to share that through the properties we market. Putting the calendar together every year is a reminder of the magnitude and beauty of this coast - from the grand coastline to the green forest, from the rivers to the lakes, from small remote islands to urban centres  - there is nowhere better to be.

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

Thursday 23 November 2017

BCO Coastal Gems: Jervis Inlet

Jervis Inlet is the principal inlet of the British Columbia Coast.  It slices through the Coastal Mountain range, narrowly zigzagging over 80 km through stunning granite-walled cliffs and forested mountains. This inlet is the deepest of British Columbia’s Inlets reaching depths of over 720 meters or 2,400 ft. and is located about 95 km northwest of Vancouver The inlet was named by George Vancouver after Rear Admiral Sir John Jervis.

Like much of the rugged BC Coast, Jervis Inlet was an area of extensive logging and fishing in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also has a history as a seasonal settlement for local First Nations.
Access points and service centers include Egmont providing access to Sechelt and Vancouver as well as Saltry Bay providing access to the Northern Sunshine Coast and Powell River. Both of these locations are approx. 25miles travel by boat. There are no roadways into Jervis Inlet, this is another of the water access only areas of the coast. The remote location and breath-taking beauty make it a location for outdoor enthusiasts.
It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday 16 November 2017

Communicating from Remote Properties

Twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, communication on a remote recreational or residential property was a non-issue. If the phone company didn't go there, you didn't have service and that was that. People who lived or vacationed on these properties did so knowing they were cutting themselves off from the rest of the world when it came to day to day communications.

Today, with smart phones and cell service and high speed internet filling every part of our lives, fewer people are willing to accept a complete cut off from their daily lives of communication. While there are still some who simply want to get away from it all, for many people getting away from it all no longer means being completely out of touch. While they want the peace and serenity and sense of getting away that these types of properties provide, they don't want to be cut off from the world at large.

Today there are options for those wanting to stay in touch. 
~Satellite phones provide phone service where cell phones can't. Sat-fi devices even allow you to use your wi-fi enabled devices to text, call and email over satellite networks. For example: 
~There are some internet companies that specialize in providing service to places no other company reaches. Xplornet specializes in providing reliable high speed internet to rural locations in Canada.
~Satellite TV companies such as Shaw Direct can provide service in many remote recreational locations.
~Some smaller communities in places where regular service doesn't always work (such as Sayward on northern Vancouver Island) are providing their own internet services. 

Communications services can allow people the freedom to escape to a remote recreational or even remote residential property while still being able to connect with their lives when needed. For some people it may mean longer vacations, or the ability to work from a home that is not in an urban centre. 

Of course, you can still go with no communication. It's all about choosing how your coastal lifestyle will look and work for you.

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

Thursday 2 November 2017

BCO Fly Day - Office on the Wing

Before the weather changed this week Shelley had the opportunity to go flying for about three hours. The pilot was able to cover a lot of the waterways and islands in Discovery Passage and up to the northern end of Vancouver Island. The water was calm, the sun shining and the fall colours spectacular!


These flights are valuable both to provide aerial photos of properties and to give Shelley or Ed, whoever has gone out on the flight, a better perspective of the location, size and siting of the properties.
(398 Smelt Bay Rd, Cortes Island. Great perspective of the size and location of this property.)

Before heading out on a flight a lot of pre-flight work is done in the office so that the time in air is used well. We first create a list of properties we would like aerial photos of, and then we group them according to location. At that point a rough idea of a route can be created (in cooperation with the pilot). The properties are laid out on a large map.

Each property then needs to have mapping and reference photos if they help so that the properties can be identified from the air. As Shelley says, there are no nice lines on the actual ground and the plane moves pretty quickly!

Taking photos from a small float plane is a challenge, both in getting the photo and with being able to focus while flying in a small plane. You never know when the pilot will bank to get you the best shot.

(To get the photo of this Bones Bay lease tucked against a steep shoreline, the plane is banked almost sideways as Shelley clicks away!)

When the photos come back to the office it takes time to download, sort them into the correct property files, and then update as needed throughout our marketing materials.

Just another aspect of BCO business that sets us apart.

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

Thursday 26 October 2017

Quinsam Salmon Hatchery

Vancouver Island is home to a number of salmon hatchery programs where the public is welcome to view the ongoing efforts to enhance and encourage the wild salmon populations of the west coast.

Quinsam River Hatchery is our local hatchery and is a common field trip destination for the local schools. It is also a great place to walk, especially in the fall when the salmon are running upstream. It is not uncommon to see bears, eagles and lots of seagulls on the banks of the river, feasting on the salmon swimming upstream.

The hatchery itself is also an interesting place to walk around and look into all the pens, troughs, etc. From one week to the next you never quite know what you'll see!

Salmon are such an integral part of the coast, both from a fishing view point and also as a common topic in our news and political arenas. The hatcheries provide a valuable look for the general public, through their educational programs and displays, into the importance of salmon in our local waters and within our coastal culture.

The hatcheries also happen to be on rivers which provide beautiful walking trails, making them the perfect place for a Sunday walk.

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

Thursday 19 October 2017

Power on Remote and Recreational Properties

When dealing with recreational and remote properties there are considerations that don't come up with regular residential properties. For instance - is there power and where does it come from?

Some recreational and remote properties are close enough to small communities that they can hook into existing BC Hydro power supplies. It can be surprising how many boat access communities, such as Quatsino on the NW coast of Vancouver Island, 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.

For properties beyond the scope of BC Hydro, there are still options for power. Many of the older, more established remote properties will have gas generators of some sort. This involves generators and usually a battery bank to store power so that the generators aren't running all the time. This requires gas to be brought on to the property, and general upkeep on the equipment.

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 as a stand-alone system. These supply a battery bank which stores the energy. Some larger properties have been known to use solar power but keep a gas generator on hand as an emergency back-up system.

Another option for those who have access to a running water supply is 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 12 October 2017

BCO Coastal Gems: The Southern Gulf Islands

When people think of the Gulf Islands of BC the first islands that come to mind are the big ones: Saltspring, Mayne, Pender and Galiano. While these are the anchors of this island system, the Gulf Islands are also home to a myriad of smaller islands.

 Galiano Island
Islands such as Ruxton and Gossip are smaller, boat access islands but still are home to many - either as a recreational get-away or as a permanent residence.
Gossip Island in the foreground

There are also private islands dotted among the bigger islands.

Leech Island with Thetis Island behind

The Gulf Islands are renowned for natural beauty, great climate, relaxed atmosphere and diverse culture. They are becoming known as a food and wine destination as well as a vacation destination.

Decourcy Island

The Gulf Islands offer residents and visitors alike a quick escape. They are close to both Vancouver and Vancouver Island yet are very different in culture. Each island offers something unique. The islands are very popular with boaters who like to explore the many beaches and protected hidden coves.

Visiting the main Gulf Islands is as simple as a ride with BC Ferries, while the smaller islands require either a personal boat, a water taxi or a charter flight.

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

Thursday 28 September 2017

BC Coastal Gems: Cortes Island

Cortes Island is a perfect example of west coast island living. As one of the Discovery Islands off the central eastern coast of Vancouver Island it is popular with boaters and vacationers alike. As one of the two Discovery Islands with ferry access, Cortes also attracts a fair number of people year-round, and has a permanent population of about 1000 people. 

The relaxed, rural lifestyle attracts a cross-section of society, from old school hippies to new age environmentalists, from burned out city executives to small scale farmers - and everything else in between. There is a strong First Nations history and presence on the island as well as a more recent resource-based history and on-going presence.

The island is 130 square kilometres and boasts some beautiful beaches as well as gorgeous lakes. Smelt Bay Provincial Park is a popular summer camping destination. There are three main population areas on the island, where one can find a public school, a medical clinic, a library branch and small community amenities.
Smelt Bay
Cortes Island is considered a major gateway to the very popular Desolation Sound region. For the outdoor enthusiast it is truly one of the best jumping off points for a variety of outdoor activities including fishing, prawning, kayaking and hiking. This area enjoys a nice temperate climate and the waters here are warmer than in most other areas on the coast.

Access to Cortes Island is a 45-minute trip via regularly scheduled ferry service from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island.  Quadra Island is a short 10-minute ferry ride from Campbell River.  During the summer months there is also regular float plane service from Vancouver and Seattle directly into Cortes Bay.
It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday 21 September 2017

Readying Your Recreational Property for Winter

Fall is upon us and with it comes the promise of rain and wind and storms. Just like you should clean your gutters, unhook your hoses and put away the patio furniture at your residence, you should prepare your recreational and remote properties for the fall and winter seasons.

Water - if you are not going to be using your property over the winter your water supply should be properly shut down. There is nothing worse than burst pipes in the spring!

General tidy up - make sure all the loose items from summer, such as chairs, tables, planters, tools, outdoor toys, etc are put away in a secure place. Winter weather can wreck these items, and winter storms can send them flying.

Clean up - make sure that food stuffs are either well packaged, stored somewhere else or thrown out. Mice love a winter meal, and there is nothing worse than coming back months later to a super smelly fridge from the milk that was left behind. Putting linens, towels, dishcloths, etc somewhere extra dry will help keep mould from growing on damp fabrics.

Lock up - make sure the property is closed up properly. Windows and doors should be latched so wind doesn't blow them open and so that critters can't get in.

Docks - make sure the surface is "gripped" or cleaned so that if someone needs to use the docks they won't slip on the slick surface from all the winter moisture.

Trees, shrubs, etc - now is a good time to prune any dead branches or long branches that are getting too close to buildings. These can come down during winter storms doing a lot of damage with no one around to clean up. Better to deal with it now.

Roof and Gutters - check they are clear of debris and are running clear. This should be done later in the fall even if the weather permits, so that falling leaves can be cleared out.

A small amount of time spent shutting down, cleaning up and locking up will save time and possibly money come spring. Time to get it done before the big storms come!

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

Thursday 14 September 2017

BCO New Team Photos

It seems every couple of years we have reason to update our office team photos. New team members, new looks, things changing - all of these have been reasons to prompt a photo shoot. This August was our most recent photo session, and we are thrilled with the results.

 Our photographer was Karen McKinnon, out of Courtenay. Karen's corporate gallery caught our eye, and we have been very impressed with her professionalism and service. Karen and her colleague John ventured up to Campbell River at 6:30am to catch the beautiful morning light at Tyee Spit. We were battling smoke from the wildfires in the interior as well as a windy morning, but we feel this set of photos does a great job of capturing the coastal lifestyle we all live and strive to introduce to our clients. Our thanks to Karen and her team for a wonderful job.

Photo shoots are always a challenge as we try to get in the various settings that portray the BCO work spaces, and as a photographer works with four personalities. Karen was a delight to work with and did a great job a directing and also accommodating our wishes.

Photos are a necessary part of a business and good photos let prospective clients get to know a little more about us. Many of the clients we work with we may not meet in person when we first start working with them (or in some cases at all) due to the nature of our remote properties and so these photos give them a chance to put faces to names and voices.

Watch for more photos to appear in our various marketing materials and on social media over the next couple of weeks!

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