Squamish has the fastest growing house prices in southwestern B.C., according to a report by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
The average price of a detached home in Squamish is $490,288, according to the board, an increase of 21.8 per cent over this time last year, and the increase has District of Squamish council concerned about how it could impact affordable housing."It's a dramatic increase in such a short period of time and that's hard to manage," said Coun. Greg Gardner.
The District of Squamish is currently trying to formulate an affordable housing policy, which is expected to be completed later this year. According to council the rapid growth is housing prices makes it even more important that the strategy be effective."It certainly further highlights the need for us to develop alternatives, and a need for us to make sure there are various types of housing available," said Coun. Patricia Heintzman.
"I'm a little shocked by that number. We are going to lose good people from the community because they cannot afford to live here."
"That sort of rise just makes me all the more determined to find some method where we can ensure our people can afford to stay in our community," added Coun. Corinne Lonsdale.
Mayor Ian Sutherland said he was not surprised by the report and noted that while the lack of affordable housing is a serious issue it is not something that can be fixed overnight.
"We know it's an issue for the community and we have to fix it with a long term solution not a short term one," said Sutherland.Council pointed to Squamish's geography as one of the reasons for the increase in market value.
"It's a factor of where Squamish is in regards to Whistler and Vancouver and underscores the impact of the coming Olympics," said Coun. Mike Jenson. "Squamish has been that jewel that has suddenly been thrown out there in the light and prices have gone through the roof."
According to a local realtor, the market is also being driven by an increase in sales at the higher end of market as well as a lack of availability for detached homes.
"Sales are up in Squamish in the over $700,000 area," said Lisa Bjornson of Black Tusk Realty. "They have doubled compared to this time last year which helps to bring the benchmark numbers up for the year."
She also noted that housing availability, accept in the area of apartments and condominiums, is lower than it was last year, which also drives up the average home price. Due to these factors apartments have become the most active real estate market in Squamish.
That activity has helped the Red Point development set a new sales record for Squamish. Developer Kingswood Properties made 118 units of the 216-unit project available, last week and sold every unit in one day.
"It's an overwhelming response," said Barrett Sprowson, marketing director for Sotheby's International, which is handling the sale of the properties.
While Squamish is leading the way in percentage increase for detached homes, the community's average home price is still among the lowest in the region. Only Pitt Meadows ($467,476), Maple Ridge ($436,407), and the Sunshine Coast ($409,740) have lower average prices. The highest average costs are in Vancouver West ($1,329,032) and West Vancouver ($1,405,122). Those two markets were also just between Squamish for fastest growth in the last year, coming in at 19.1 per cent and 16.6 per cent growth respectively.