Tak­ing the PLUNGE

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Recreation & Investment Properties - MARTY HOPE

When it comes to find­ing a place to spend the sum­mer, kids don’t re­ally care about prices or the mar­ket­place.

All they want to know is whether the wa­ter’s warm and if there are other kids to hang out with.

So, it was ap­pro­pri­ate at the grand open­ing of Hum­ming­bird Beach Re­sort on B.C.’s Mara Lake, of­fi­cials had kids jump­ing off a dock through a piece of rib­bon.

Cot­tages and kids form a nat­u­ral sum­mer­time bond.

Up in the morn­ing and gone, leav­ing the screen door to bang shut be­hind them, kids are not likely go­ing to be seen un­til sup­per­time.

It’s all about fam­i­lies en­joy­ing them­selves in a clas­sic cot­tage en­vi­ron­ment, says Steele Jor­dan, pres­i­dent of Mara Lake Es­tates Ltd. the de­vel­oper of Hum­ming­bird. About 98 per cent of buy­ers are fam­i­lies in which the par­ents are ages 35 to 50, with chil­dren rang­ing from new­borns to teenagers, he says.

There has also been in­ter­est from empty-nesters looking for a va­ca­tion spot where they can spend time with their grand­chil­dren, says Jor­dan. “Hum­ming­bird has been de­signed to be the per­fect fam­ily get­away lo­ca­tion,” he says.

Sit­ting on al­most four hectares of lake­side prop­erty near Sicamous on Mara Lake — which boasts one of the long­est stretches of white sandy beach in the Shuswap re­gion — Hum­ming­bird Beach Re­sort con­sists of only 81 homes.

Jor­dan says the re­sort has been de­signed to ap­peal to va­ca­tion­ers looking for an “easy, sim­pli­fied hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Let the kids dream; let them see them­selves splash­ing in the wa­ter or tub­ing and wa­ter-ski­ing on nearby Tur­tle Bay.

In the grown-up world, there has to be some re­al­is­tic think­ing to be done about buy­ing recre­ation prop­erty.

Jor­dan says in­ter­est in Hum­ming­bird is high — and as you might think, it is par­tic­u­larly high among young fam­i­lies.

“The spec­u­la­tors are com­pletely out of the mar­ket, so now we’re get­ting a lot of in­ter­est from fam­i­lies who are looking for a se­cure de­vel­op­ment where they can start build­ing mem­o­ries,” says Jor­dan, whose com­pany has long, strong ties to the Mara Lake re­gion.

The el­e­ment that makes Hum­ming­bird se­cure is that constructi­on is com­plete, he says.

“We’re able to of­fer po­ten­tial buy­ers a va­ca­tion home that is ready now,” says Jor­dan. “They can lit­er­ally walk through the re­sort. pick one that meets their needs and move in.”

Hum­ming­bird of­fers a good cross­sec­tion of whole own­er­ship hous­ing styles.

Town­houses mea­sur­ing 1,500 to 2,100 square feet with three or four bed­rooms are priced from $750,000. Cabins, sized from 1,000 to 1, 400 square feet, are priced from $399,000.

There are also some creek­side cot­tages mea­sur­ing 550 square feet — but with an­other 100square-foot bunkhouse with it — that are priced from $235,000.

“The bunkhouse makes an ideal home of­fice, ex­tra bed­room, or what­ever the buyer wants to use it for,” says Jor­dan.

In 2008, when Hum­ming­bird be­gan of­fer­ing its homes, 40 per cent were sold. So far this sell­ing sea­son, three more have been snapped up.

“Mo­men­tum is slower this year be­cause of the eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment, but we ex­pected that,” says Jor­dan, adding he un­der­stands the is­sues peo­ple are deal­ing with when it comes to buy­ing recre­ation prop­erty.

“But I think once they ar­rive at Hum­ming­bird and get the feel­ing for what it’s all about — the fam­ily at­mos­phere that we have cre­ated — they might just buy,” he says.

A B.C. Real Es­tate As­so­ci­a­tion re­port says prices have sta­bi­lized in most ar­eas of the prov­ince and any fur­ther de­clines are un­likely.

It says buy­ers are start­ing to catch on to the fact that due to record low mort­gage rates and some price ad­just­ments, this is the time to buy.

Ac­cord­ing to cal­cu­la­tions put to­gether by a mar­ket­ing firm work­ing with Hum­ming­bird, the de­cline in rates and prices will make buy­ing eas­ier on the pock­et­book.

On av­er­age, mort­gage rates this year are a full per­cent­age point be­low the 2008 av­er­age.

At Hum­ming­bird, those con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a cabin will save more than $388 per month.

Last year, a cabin was priced at $485,900 — and this year, it’s $399,000.

So, with 25 per cent down, a 25-year amor­ti­za­tion and an av­er­age rate of 4.25 per cent, the monthly pay­ment would be slightly more than $1,783 — a de­crease from a year-ago pay­out of just un­der $2,172.

The sav­ings in­crease even more with the town­houses. With price and mort­gage rate changes, the monthly out­lay will be $916 less than a year ago.

A re­cent recre­ation hous­ing sur­vey by Re/Max says while sales from Jan­uary to April are down from the same pe­riod in 2008, mo­men­tum is start­ing to build in the Shuswap and North Okana­gan re­gions.

There are two rea­sons for the slow­down — the spate of bad weather ear­lier and the fact peo­ple are be­ing more cau­tious about dis­cre­tionary spending.

“Af­ford­abil­ity re­mains an is­sue, but buy­ers have greatly ben­e­fited from greater buy­ing power,” says the re­port.

B.C. val­leys con­tinue to be a mag­net for Al­ber­tans looking for that get­away des­ti­na­tion.

Jor­dan con­curs. “The split would prob­a­bly be 25 per cent B.C. and 75 per cent Al­berta — with greater than 50 per cent of Al­ber­tans com­ing from the Cal­gary area,” he says.

Cour­tesy, Hum­ming­bird Beach Re­sort

The grand open­ing of Hum­ming­bird Beach Re­sort.

Pho­tos cour­tesy, Hum­ming­bird Beach Re­sort

The in­te­rior of one of the homes at Hum­ming­bird Beach Re­sort.

Steele Jor­dan, pres­i­dent of Mara Lake Es­tates, the de­vel­oper of the project near Sicamous, B.C.

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