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Market Insights - BC Waterfront Real Estate

There are a lot of "how-to" articles online that regurgitate the same advice about real estate related topics such as getting a good mortgage or prepping your home for the market. While those things are obviously very important, we want to write articles that are enlightening and valuable for visitors to our site. Rather than write about the same-old, same-old, we endeavour to create interesting and compelling articles specifically for people interested in (BC) waterfront real estate.

Thanks for reading.
Sharleen Kneeland
Publisher, Waterfront West

2008 Forecast at Jurock Conference

Last weekend Waterfront West staff attended the B.C. real estate guru Ozzie Jurock's 2008 Real Estate Outlook to find out what he predicts for B.C. markets for the coming year.


For all of the recreational real estate fans out there, Ozzie advised to "go where the boomers go" and B.C. areas he alluded to for future growth in this sector included much of Vancouver Island, as well as some smaller towns in the Okanagan and Shuswap areas.


A recent survey by Angus Reid Strategies showed that one of every four Canadian adults would like to buy a vacation property. Forty-one percent of these buyers were over 55 years old and eighty-three percent of them wish to pay off their mortagages on these properties or have clear title within 15 years of purchase. Furthermore, waterfront properties are most popular with B.C. buyers (39%).

Based on these survey results, the high demand for rec. property, coupled with the availability of extra cash and cheap mortgages is keeping the market brisk for B.C. recreational property. Many of our subscribing real estate agents have reported a surge in activity in the last few weeks of August and beginning of September, and our site stats have shown an increase of anywhere from 500-2500 more unique visitors month over month since January so the demand is definitely out there! Stay tuned to this blog to find out the top 10 recreational areas in B.C. as determined by our site statistics (to be released next spring).

For real estate investors or speculators, the general advice of the day was to make sure you want what you buy. Despite some US markets preforming well (Seattle gained 12% in price this year according to NAR), US headlines are grim in light of the recent sub-prime mortgage debacle. Investors must be aware of the psychological impact of the media on the market. Although B.C.'s economy remains strong, as does Alberta's, Ozzie pointed to the high listing to sales ratio in Edmonton (which he believes is unwarranted) as a possible indicator of the psychological effect the negative media has created.

The other "fly in the ointment" could be a possible debasement of currency and all implications that would have (ie. raised interest rates). Although he believes this is unlikely, he advised real estate investors to exercise caution and make sure to do their due diligence to make sure properties cash flow and/or make sense from an investment perspective. He advised that if you are planning to buy or need any type of loan to get it in writing now as he believes banks will tighten up on lending to avoid loan defaults.

On the upside, for those of us who think against the grain, a little more bad news may cause US markets in select areas to slip further and create some good buying opportunities.

Finally, he says if you are buying for yourself, buy the best you can afford and enjoy it to the fullest!

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Do Buyers Really Want Online Real Estate Video?

A few months ago, I started looking into how we could enhance the viewing of properties on our site for our buyers. Being an avid real estate listings viewer myself, I had my own preferences and preconceived ideas of what buyers wanted but before initiating any major changes on thesite I decided to poll our buyers to get the real story.

Here were my initial feelings on what people would like:

1. Still photos (lots) or flash slide show

2. Virtual Tours

As for video, I had no idea of whether or not it was popular with buyers except for that a couple of the major real estate marketing blogs were touting it (www.futureofrealestatemarketing.com) and a few big companies were racing to get the best real estate video format/distribution out there (www.wellcomemat.com , www.onlinewalkthru.com ).

My thoughts on adding video were that if I was going to go to the effort of putting virtual tours directly into the listings, I might as well take it the next step and skip to video-assuming our buyers wanted it.

So I went ahead and implemented the poll. Although the numbers of voters wasn't huge, I began to notice a trend immediately. As I suspected, still photos were high on the priority list, but virtual tours came out #1 and real estate video, the darling of the media of late, came in last with only 12% of the votes.

Here are the results:

Poll Results

This kind of "threw me for a loop" as I had already planned on implementing a flash slide show into the site. The slide show just looked nicer and a lot more "flashy" than the plain still photos and fit better with the upscale tone of the site.

Furthermore, now I was left with the question of whether or not it was the quality of video my buyers had viewed or lack of having seen many real estate videos that had left the poor impression on them. After all, isn't viral video supposed to be "the future of internet marketing."

So I started to look around at some different real estate video sites to find out what these videos were like. I must admit, and I hope I am not insulting too many people here, that many of the videos came across the same: cheesy background music (a pain when viewing properties from work), lots of panning and zooming in and out on still photos (boring), painful voiceovers and the lack of ability to jump quickly to the area of the home your are interested in.

I did, however, find a few videos that stood out from the rest. These were professionally planned out "shows" about the properties. One of them, in particular, really stands out in my mind as it interviewed the owner about the history of her home and why it was so special to her family (of course, I can't find the link to that one-sorry, but click here to see a similar idea). The other nice bonuses of these videos were that they showed some neighbourhood shots of activities available nearby -something that most photos can't portray as well.

My conclusion: there is a place for online real estate video and it will become a bigger part of the marketing mix for real estate agents/sellers in the future. The key to selling the home will be the creativity and professionalism with which the videos are made and the effective distribution of the final product. As for what we do on the site, maybe that will depend on your comments, but one thing I can say for sure is we are not getting rid of the still photos!

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Market Insights - Waterfront Real Estate

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