CBC - Squamish Residential Market Interview with Darren McCartney
March 13, 2015
CBC Vancouver Early Edition broadcast from Squamish
Rick Cluff interviews Darren McCartney, Realtor
Rick: Through the years, the dream of owning a home in Vancouver has become more and more unrealistic, but here in Squamish, that dream is still very much a reality. Darren McCartney is a real estate agent who lives and works here in Squamish and joins us at Chef D’s this morning. Hello there.
Darren: Hello there. Good to see you.
Rick: Good to see you. Let’s talk about the real estate market here. What impact has the Olympics had on development generally in Squamish?
Darren: Well, I think the biggest long term impact that we’ve seen here is the construction of the highway, just that improvement, the commute time being shorter to Vancouver is the largest outcome. Definitely there was some awareness that we derived from the Olympics, but really that infrastructure has had the biggest impact because we put ourselves in a commuting distance to Vancouver.
Rick: Yeah, some people do the commute here, they treat this as a bedroom community, but this is far more than just a bedroom community now. You’ve got a university here, you’ve got a lot of development going on here, you’ve got the possibility of heavy industry here with LNG. Has that affected the real estate market?
Darren: Absolutely. I think most people who make the decision to move here, although currently, affordability is one of the decisions. I think almost everyone you meet and that has moved to Squamish in the last ten years, they want to take advantage of the lifestyle up here - this is unique in the sense that we are a mountain town as well as a suburb to the city. So we’ve got all the benefits that come with that and living in a small town, having Whistler in your backyard and just having a different way of life in the way people interact with each other but also having any benefits of having the city being close by. I think that’s a big component for sure.
Rick: But as more people move here, of course, real estate becomes more scarce. Are the prices going up?
Darren: The last year and a half there has been a notable change, after I’d say, three or four years of it being very much a buyer’s market. In the last year it’s flipped and it’s become a seller’s market. That being said, we’re still very affordable. If you draw a circle around the lower mainland and look at residential house pricing up here, we’re probably still in many cases, 10 to15, if not 20% less than a similar distance in the Lower Mainland. One of the things you hear about the commute that people drive from Squamish to Vancouver is the fact that it’s an enjoyable commute, you’re not stop and go, that kind of thing. And there is more and more opportunity locally with jobs which is key.
Rick: Darren is the possibility so that it might become unaffordable for the average resident here? Like we’ve seen in Vancouver.
Darren: I think that ultimately long term could become the case in the Lower Mainland that it’s a constant problem where people who should be living wherever they feel like it are getting pushed out further and further into the suburbs and that may eventually catch up. But I think geographically, we will probably only grow to twenty-five or thirty thousand people over time and there is that distance and a lot people are drawn here, want to live here for a particular reason so, for now I think we’re ok. But it could change in time.
Rick: Give us an idea, I mean, what is the average detached single family home cost in Squamish?
Darren: You’re seeing that much up into the mid $500,000 to $600,000 now where it was lower before. What’s happened is, there has been a lot of activity for single family under $700,000, I would say and that inventory has dried up. The biggest complaint I hear around the office is lots of buyer’s but not enough product to sell. So definitely a lot of activity in that $500,00 - $650,000 range but that gap is closing.
Rick: Is there a condo market here?
Darren: The condo market went through some tough times four or five years ago, there were some receiverships and condo development slowed down…. people who are drawn here required storage for all their toys effectively or they’re young families and require that storage.
Rick: I got a little bit of an echo here, we apologize, but Darren final question; for anyone listening who might be considering moving from the Lower Mainland to Squamish, what should they know before making the move?
Darren: I think the big thing is just coming to understand the type of community it is here.I don’t think it’s a negative. It’s a really unique place to come with your family, a very friendly area. We’ve got over 60% of our population under 40 and growing so there’s a real vibrancy and opportunity that comes with that.
Rick: Darren, thanks so much for being with us this morning, appreciate it.
Darren: Thank you
Rick: Darren McCartney who is a real estate agent in Squamish. Would you ever consider moving here, so you could afford a home? Would you enjoy the commute? It is one of the most beautiful drives on the planet.