By Ozzie Jurock
First off, I just love B.C. B.C.'ers have learned to become a "black belt in life" - that truly balanced life.
Our environment is majestic (I am awed every time I ski), the climate is outstanding, and the views spectacular. There is a very special flavour here. Call it the crisp mountain air, the sweeping, wide-open spaces, the fresh ocean spray, balmy sunsets, golf in February and wine in September. This is the best place in the world to be, where you can enjoy that truly balanced life.
People come here from all parts of the world (inward migration is at a high), bringing their individuality, their experiences and their business know-how.
To work here is a privilege. To live here is a true blessing. To study here is a benefit. To worship here is a natural. In the whole world there is no place like it. It is paradise.
So no great surprise, therefore, I am still buying B.C. real estate and here is why I think this province will continue to be a great real estate investment.
1. Values grow where people go. When employment rises, occupancy of apartments, houses and offices rises - and employment in B.C. will continue to rise.
2. We live in the world's most unreported inflation, which has driven real estate prices in Vancouver from $16,500 in 1965 to more than $1 million today.
I believe that inflation will return worldwide and all hard assets - including real estate - will continue to rise, not necessarily in a straight line, but they will rise.
3. The world is discovering us. As cash (printed out of thin air) swirls around the world, it is more and more look- ing for a safe haven and B.C offers just that. Add to that Vancouver's 400,000-strong Asian population and downtown Vancouver and other prime areas will continue to be hot.
4. I believe that timing (cycles) and trend identification remains vitally important. Your entry point in any real estate - or any market - is very important. Don't fight the trend.
5. A worldwide expectation that our dollar will continue to rise (my predic- tions are coming true) means a built-in return on investment. We have large capital inflows into bonds but also into real estate markets.
6. We are one of the few truly international cities where you can talk to Europe and Asia on the same day - during business hours.
7. Social stability, excellent health services, low crime rates, lowest provincial personal income tax in Canada. No general corporation capital tax, no employer payroll taxes, no franchise tax and no machinery sales tax. We have Canada's highest overall education levels and highest life expectancy.
8. An innovative and skilled workforce, world-leading universities, rich abundant natural resources.
9. Vancouver is the most livable city in the world, according to the 2010 Livability ranking survey of 140 cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit. B.C. is home to other vibrant cities and welcoming communities with booming tech sectors, such as Victoria, Kelowna, Prince George - each with its own distinctive characteristics, charm and beauty.
I do not believe the Lower Mainland is in a bubble and that bubble has to pop, but I do believe that some areas are overbuilt and that some resorts have been hard-hit.
No doubt 2011 will see higher interest rates (lock in these lifetime lows) and a "sideways market," but there are also a lot of opportunities - such as:
- Rental properties in a number of small towns that cash flow - e.g. Kamloops and Prince George, Nanaimo and Comox. (Price per property is so low that the owner's mortgage is paid by the tenant.)
- Some areas in the Lower Mainland where condos are overbuilt (such as Surrey) are great value.
- I would buy (make an offer) on any waterfront, anywhere: river, lakes, ocean.
- Any business owner (or professional) should buy his or her own building. Most buildings make sense at today's low interest rates. Lock in the rates on all commercial buildings for 10 years.
- Small apartment buildings are not as sweet as earlier last year, but deals can be still found in the Fraser Valley, in New West and on the Island.
- Neighbourhood shopping centres.
- Mini-storage and trailer parks.
- Land (particularly farmland).
- Small investment/industrial market- type properties that have good returns.
- Recreational resort property.
- Okanagan if the deal is right, but particularly the undiscovered South.
- Vancouver Island - coastal areas.
My major point is that certain principles remain: No matter where or what you buy, you make the most money in real estate on the day you buy. Nevertheless, buy cautiously - don't fall in love with the deal, because when investing - any investing - there is a new train (as in gravy) every 10 minutes. But with B.C. on your side, you can't go wrong.
Published in West Coast Homes and Design, Feb. 2011
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