He knows of what he speaks. When a realtor with years of experience buys into a development for his own use, other purchasers sit up and pay attention, because a realtor knows a good thing when he sees it.
That’s why when John Mele of Re/Max Central in Calgary put his name down on the registration list for the chance to be one of the first to buy into a resort-style development on Vancouver Island, the developer was excited.
“He knows the market and he knows the value of this project,” says David Steele — who is partnered with Pat Delesalle in the first stages of developing 62 luxury beachfront homes and amenities that will make up the resort-style community of Qualicum Landing. The decision wasn’t a hard one, says Mele. “My wife and I have been going out to the island for years and we’ve always loved the area,” he says.
“Now, as we are getting older, we are thinking we could enjoy having a place that we could use more frequently. The quality of this development and its location was attractive to us and fit into our lifestyle.”
When the boom busted, the recreation properties’ market was affected as much as anything else.
While it’s a fact that tough times mean tightening pocketbooks and only keeping essentials, thus the downturn in demand for property, it also means that the decreased prices of real estate are attractive to those astute buyers who are looking for value.
There are plenty of people who want recreation properties, says Steele.
“The demographics alone account for the continuing demand. People know they want a place on the island and it’s a huge benefit that it will be ready for a later delivery.
“Prices are down now and they can take advantage of that because they realize the value is there.”
Mele sees the market changing, albeit slowly. The realtor has had recreation property in Scottsdale, Ariz., for 15 year, including buying other properties there for investment.
“Part of our lifestyle is to spend two and a half to three months every winter in Phoenix. It’s a highlight of the way we live.” He sees that as a growing trend. “More and more people are incorporating the West Coast lifestyle into their plans as well as Phoenix,” says Mele.
“They are two different things that offer so much to people. People love the experience of Phoenix in winter, but they also love the West Coast beauty with the different seasons, the
back-to-nature environment and the water.
“And now is a good time to buy in any market with the substantial price changes.” That’s why Steele, who has been in the real estate field for more than two decades developing as many as 85 projects in the U.S. and Canada, is pumped on his latest venture, despite the economy.
“There’s not that much of a supply of properties for those buyers looking for quality settings — and we are just now at the beginning of the boom of those older buyers who are looking to retire or semi-retire within the next five to 10 years. They’re looking for a place where they can do some work from home — a place that’s not too remote and a place that will hold its value. They’re looking for a place to eventually retire, but one they can use for recreation and getaways now.”
In fact, says Mele, some people are choosing to downsize their homes in Calgary to live instead in a more modest condominium — using the equity to buy not one, but two different recreation properties in the two different markets, each with its own attractiveness.
“Instead of having one big luxury house, we’re seeing good properties that are not so highly priced in a couple of desirable areas, and that’s what people are buying.”
Competitive prices are what sets Qualicum Landing apart, says Steele.
For their part, Steele and Delesalle have reduced prices of their exclusive waterfront community by an average of $150,000 to $250,000 per unit.
“Qualicum Landing is ideal for those looking for a permanent residence or vacation home,” says Steele.
“Any way you look at it, it’s a great investment opportunity. This new price point means we as the developer will be making considerably less money, but the property is primed and ready to go, so we feel pretty good about letting the prices ride.” And it is a bargain, he says.
“Fundamentally, it’s everybody’s dream to own a beach home and this is six hectares of land with 152 metres of walk-on waterfront. You just don’t find that anymore anywhere.
“And right now, there are not a lot of other competing properties with the kind of setting we have — but there is still an incredible amount of interest.”
“We have designed a retirement and vacation home, resort-style community with many amenities, and we fully expect 50 per cent of our buyers will come from Calgary.”
The complex — located in the heart of oceanside country on the eastern side of the island eight minutes north of Qualicum Beach — is a $35-million beach resort community.
It will feature 62 stand-alone condos from 1,180 square feet to 2,000 square feet, some with garages and some with up to four bedrooms.
The homes are either beach front, beach view, or located around the beach house and pool, and prices are from $399,000.
Construction has already started, with completion of phase one, which includes the clubhouse, anticipated for the end of this year.
“The units have everything from granite, stainless steel and crown moulding to hardwood floors, so there are few choices that need to be made,” says Steele. “Two finishing packages are available.”
The amenities — other than the spectacular 152 metres of ocean beachfront — include not only the pool, but a huge grassed area with picnic tables and a large fire pit.
There’s also a clubhouse with afitness facility, two hot tubs (one for the kids), a deck, and sports courts for tennis and basketball.
“We’re looking at creating a sanctuary area as well with a community vegetable garden,” says Steele.
Residents will have access to five golf courses, all within a 20minute drive of Qualicum Landing, and some of the best fishing on Vancouver Island is right on the resort property’s doorstep at Fletcher Creek.
Selection day is slated for June 27 on a first-registered, firstchoice basis. Register online at www.qualicumlanding.com.
Construction is already underway, with completion of the first phase and clubhouse estimated for December 2009.
Top, David Steele, Qualicum Landing developer. Above, an artist’s rendering of one of the units.
The development is designed as a retirement/vacation, resort-style community, with about many expected Calgary buyers.
John Mele is a realtor for Re/Max Central who has just signed up for the first release of a new resort project — Qualicum Landing — on Vancouver Island.