Taking the PLUNGE
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.
The grand opening of 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.