Retirees turning B.C. vacation homes into year-round residences

When developer Eric Van Maren began designing a series of vacation homes in the B.C. Interior four years ago, he figured most of the potential ...

When developer Eric Van Maren began designing a series of vacation homes in the B.C. Interior four years ago, he figured most of the potential buyers would be looking for a temporary getaway.

“When we actually started selling, we found more and more of our buyers wanted to live there year-round,” he said.

The Cottages on Osoyoos Lake development began offering different floor plans to potential customers — most of whom are either retired or less than five years from retirement — that offered more square footage and amenities like a garage.

“Osoyoos is a vacation destination. We’re seeing it more as a retirement destination where family (of retirees) comes to vacation,” Van Maren said.

“The younger demographic — i.e. people in their 30s and 40s — there’s just not that many of them that are wealthy enough to afford property purely for recreational use.”

The fine-tuning for year-round accommodations had the added effect of boosting prices at the development.

Van Maren said there are still a few of the vacation properties available for $300,000 but most buyers are going for the larger homes priced at $700,000 to $1 million since they’re better suited for year-round living.

A Royal LePage recreational property report released June 5 shows the average 2014 price range for B.C. recreational property was $100,000 to $1 million while the national average was $130,000 to $800,000.

In B.C., waterfront recreational property was averaging about $900,000 in Vernon, $700,000 in Kelowna and $400,000 to $1 million on the Gulf Islands.

The Royal LePage report noted the traditional spring buying season was stalled in much of the rest of Canada. It pointed out much of the country was paralyzed by a particularly harsh winter that left snow on the ground late into the year.

It was not an issue that plagued B.C.’s vacation hotspots.

Van Maren said this had the effect of drawing a lot more buyers from the prairies.

“There’s just a much, much shorter summer season in Alberta, so weather is a huge part of it.”

@reporton

torton@biv.com

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