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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

Global Warming Concern Creating Niche Market for B.C. Riverfront

Most of the inquiries that go through our site go to our sellers; however, we also receive direct emails from buyers asking for advice about where to buy or asking us to keep an eye out for specific types of property for them. When we first launched the site, I had an email that read something like this:

"We are looking for a place to build an off-the-grid, sustainable living home. We would like to purchase a few acres of land with riverfront or a stream to create micro hydro power."

Although I knew of a movement towards sustainable living, I was surprised to see an inquiry like this so soon after the site launched; however, the percent of inquiries like this that come through to us have made me wonder if we could set up some kind of a search for these properties (although I imagine this might be quite complicated!).

All of this interest got me wondering what I didn't know that these people knew, so I delved a little deeper into the reasons for their desire to live off the grid.

The reasons all seem to come down to the same thing-attempting to make less of a footprint on the earth while having your own means of creating energy in a possible future of global warming and a certain future of higher energy costs. Here is a citation from a recent email from a buyer from "down-south," who references the film www.whatawaytogomovie.com to qualify his statement:

"I (only) passed through there (Vancouver Island) on the way to Glacier Bay, Alaska in '05 while investigating the effects of climate change, the results of which are one of the reasons I am relocating. The other reason being that the entire informed and concerned population of North America seems to be headed your way for the same reason, so I should be in good company regardless."

After doing a bit of research on global warming, it seems that many areas of B.C., while they will be effected to a degree by global warming, may be a safer bet than areas such as the southern States (particularly parts of California, Florida, Georgia & Alabama) and large cities in Asia and India. I even managed to find this web site www.droughtscore.com, which informs people looking to relocate in the US on where to live to avoid drought (!) and another article about lack of water supply and the problems it is causing in Georgia, Florida & Alabama. The owner of www.droughtscore.com, Bert Sperling even lists the areas most at risk for being affected by global warming in the US on his web site www.bestplaces.net. Click here for article. Click here for US Drought monitor.

Although riverfront land may be at risk of increased flooding from warming, it seems the trade off (energy and water availability) is more than worth the risk of living somewhere with no access to either. The key with this type of property would be to build at a safe distance from the riverbank to protect your buildings and ensure you are also protecting the ecosystem by creating a good environment for salmon spawning.

While there is some concern about large scale micro-hydro initiatives in B.C. (click here for article), it seems most of the buyers who email us are looking to create small versions for themselves of what the energy giants are tapping into with the government's recent focus on "greener" energy initiatives.

It is not just in our area of the real estate industry that people are becoming more aware of eco-friendly ways of living. A recent survey by Royal LePage showed that almost 75% of Canadian homebuyers are looking for a "green-improved" property in their next home and that 63% would pay more for an environmentally friendly home. Certain players in the building industry are already responding with more eco-friendly development practices. Home Depot now produces the "Eco-Options" magazine to highlight its "green" products and the latest edition of "This Old House" to arrive at our door was titled "Save Money, Save Energy, Build Smart: 53 pages of products and projects for a safer, healthier home."

Some real estate brokerages are even going green including one in Vancouver, MacDonald Realty, which has recently launched a program called MacGreen. The program is a carbon-offsetting plan (free to buyers and sellers) whereby the real estate agents can donate carbon credits as part of the real estate transaction. In an industry where driving is a necessary part of the job, this is one way the agents and brokerages can contribute to the health of the environment.

(If you are interested in buying or selling a waterfront/view property in the Lower Mainland and partcipating in this program, please contact our member Realtor and environmental lawyer, Patricia Houlihan at 604-376-7653 or visit her website at www.waterfrontvancouver.ca.)



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Seven Imperial Oil Marine Fuel Stations Face Closure in BC

An article in yesterday's Vancouver Sun caught my eye as it mentioned the impending closure of two of Imperial Oil's Esso marine fuel stations used by recreational boaters and commuters in Vancouver. The stations in question are at West Vancouver's Fisherman's Cove and in False Creek; two critical locations to boat owners in the area as there are currently no other marine fuel suppliers at these locations. According to the article, the closure is causing a panic amongst boat owners, who are loading up on fuel by hand and creating a potentially dangerous situation in the process. 

Initially, Imperial had planned to sell the West Vancouver station to Bruce Falkins, the current operator of the station; however, after doing his due diligence and agreeing to upgrade the oil tanks to the required "Enviro" tanks, Bruce was told that Imperial will no longer sell the station but plans to destroy it because of liability fears concerning the structure of the building. According to Bruce, in addition to the inconvenience caused by a closure, the lack of gas in these areas could be a concern to boater safety as the West Vancouver station is used by various emergency service providers. Currently, Bruce is trying to have Imperial reconsider the sale and is asking for any concerned citizens to write to Imperial asking them to overturn the decision. 

Prior to this year, Imperial has sold its marine fuel stations in other crucial areas such as Victoria's Inner Harbour, Gibsons and Deep Cove, so the decision to destroy some of its remaining stations rather than selling them comes as a surprise. It would be interesting to find out what their lawyers have found to cause all of the concern and have them pay to destroy these stations.

I have put a call in to Imperial and will post the other 5 locations in this blog when/if I find out where they are. They may be sold rather than closed depending on the locations and sturctures in question.


All of this talk about closing gas stations and the panic that has ensued, got me thinking about a documentary I recently viewed regarding the future of oil production and how the lack thereof will effect us. If you're interested, you can click here to link to the movie's web site: A Crude Awakening, The Oil Crash



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Oprah Purchasing in the Comox Valley?

I know that I usually only write my blogs once a week but after looking through the local paper this morning I felt the need to write a short entry today to keep you all up to date with the latest waterfront news.

For a few weeks now, there has been a rumour going around the Comox Valley that Oprah has purchased the famed Filberg house in Comox, currently on the market for $10, 000 000. I first heard about it from my husband's barber who, as the story goes, had a client who lived next door to the famed house and had been told that it had sold to Oprah. Sounds like a really trusted source, right? LOL

Anyhow, I decided to dig deeper into the story to see what I could find out. The listing Realtor's office said that the property was still for sale, but that the property next door had sold mid-summer. This was around the same time that Oprah sailed up the island on Jimmy Pattison's yacht, apparently stopping to dine just off of Denman Island and visiting the village of Alert Bay further north on the island. The office claims that this is the only way they could have seen the rumour getting started (although I'm sure if a high profile buyer like Oprah had purchased in the Valley the office wuld be mum about it anyhow).

I didn't realize how fast the story got around until I opened up the local paper today to find an article, which basically reiterates what I had already discovered-that it was all a rumour, but alludes to the possibility that it could have been Jimmy Pattison who might have been interested in real estate here.

This brings me to another rumour that has been circulating here, which is that Donald Trump apparently mentioned the Comox Valley as being one of the best places to buy on an Oprah show last year. I have never written about this either, as I have never had proof of it. I even wrote to the show to ask about it but never heard back. If anyone has any proof of this, please drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll look into it.

Finally, a record breaking waterfront sale in West Vancouver. A home on Radcliffe Ave. sold for $30, 000 000-(more than any house in Canada) to a Canadian(!) Annual taxes on the property are close to a mere $100, 000. Click here to see video (watch Thursday news).

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