The hot seller’s market continued to be the big story in Oak Bay real estate for 2016, with limited listings putting pressure on prices.
Right out of the gate in January, realtors were advising clients to have their “ducks in a row” as they embarked on the quest for a new home.
“It’s a tough market for buyers. I think inventory has been low all of last year and it just seems to be getting lower,” realtor Cassie Kangas told HomeFinder in January.
That continuing trend also had an impact on home assessments, with Oak Bay homeowners looking at an average increase of about 6.52 per cent when assessments were mailed last January.
“Notably, a robust real estate market over the past year resulted in assessment increases for man properties in the Vancovuer Island region,” Regional Assessor Reuben Danakody said at the time.
By the beginning of May, the headline read “Property sales exceed expectations” as the Victoria Real Estate Board reported a total of 1,286 properties sold in the region in April, an increase of 53 per cent compared to the same month last year.
Most of those buyers – 72.5 per cent in the first quarter – were local and many were focused on the Victoria core, Saanich and Oak Bay. “If you are shopping for a home right now, there is a good chance that if you are looking in a higher-demand area you may find yourself in a multiple offer situation when you go to purchase,” said VREB president Mike Nugent.
The story continued through summer. In July, the board reported 972 sales through the region, an increase of 22 per cent over the previous July.
“Though we saw the seasonal slowdown that we expect this time of year, we had another record-breaking month,” Nugent said.
Oak Bay heritage discussions also returned to these pages throughout the 2016, spurred on by concern about the loss of Oak Bay’s older homes. Advocates are working on several fronts, and in April, we chatted with Pat Wilson, of Oak Bay Heritage, about her 1939-built storybook cottage’s place in the heritage register.
“Placing your home on the heritage register says your home has heritage value to the community,” Wilson said. “It flags your home as having heritage value and celebrating what is good about your home for the rest of us.”
Oak Bay homes also figured prominently in other exciting news, including this year’s CARE Awards.
Oak Bay’s Drakefearann project, by Denford Construction Management Ltd., was the big winner, capturing 12 gold CARE Awards,
including Project of the Year and the
People’s Choice Award.
Also participating in the project were multiple award-winners Goodison Construction and Jason Good Custom Cabinets.
Among the other Oak Bay winners was Patio Court from Città Group, which won for Best Residential Renovation or Restoration $275,000 to $499,000.
From the Island to the provincial stage, Patio Court was also named as a finalist late in the year for the 25th anniversary Georgie Awards, for Best Residential Renovation $100,000 to $299,999
Citta and the other finalists await the gold winners, to be announced March 11 in Vancouver.
2016 also took us to several Oak Bay showpieces taking centre stage on the region’s home and garden tours.
Louise and Frank Quinby showed readers how a “retro-modern” design – the kitchen was inspired by the family’s former Studebaker – took their 1947 half-split level into a roomy, contemporary masterpiece.
And in time for the annual For the Love of Arica Water Garden Tour, Lloyd Howard took us on a tour of his garden created beneath a canopy of Garry oaks.
Talking to local experts about a wide range of home ownership issues through the year, among the lessons learned were tips and tricks to keep mould at bay, with Ryan Ratcliffe from Axiom Mould Experts, what to watch for with asbestos in the home, and yes, even how to get ready for Oak Bay’s annual clutter-buster, Garagellenium in June,
From Bill Okell, from Okell Waterproofing, we learned how to tackle water wreaking havoc in the home, while from Gary Law, of Oak Bay’s SeaFirst Insurance, readers learned the ins and outs of insuring their homes.
2016 was a busy year.