The Semiahmoo Peninsula’s $59

Buying on a budget still possible in hot market

Detached homes may not be as affordable, but lower priced real estate options exist in White Rock and South Surrey.

It’s a cozy home in a quiet complex, boasting two bedrooms, an open floor plan, stainless steel appliances, a shared outdoor pool and a location that’s a few minutes’ drive to the beach.

It’s also the least expensive home listed on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, priced at $59,000.

“It’s cheaper than buying a condo or a townhouse,” said Bianca Myddleton, the listing agent.

Earlier this month, the province introduced a 15 per cent tax on real estate for foreign buyers in a bid to cool a white-hot market. Some observers suggested the new tax will lead to a drop in prices, while others believe it will do little to improve affordability.

While the long-term implications of the tax aren’t yet known, agents say breaking into the local market is still possible for first-time buyers on a budget – provided their expectations are realistic.

The $59,000 listing – the lowest-priced home listed last week in White Rock and South Surrey – is a 43-year-old manufactured home in Breakaway Bays, a South Surrey community at 1840 160 St. with 345 lots of prefabricated housing.

The 798-sq.-ft. home is a great alternative to buying a condominium, Myddleton said. The catch is only the home is for sale – not the land. The buyer is responsible for a $911 monthly pad rental, which includes electricity, utilities and use of the pool.

“If you were to rent a condo at this size, you’d probably be looking at $1,400 a month. So for less than that, you can get into one of these.”

Myddleton noted manufactured-home buyers range in age and circumstance. One recent sale was to a couple in their 70s, another double-wide unit went to a young couple with a 12-year-old.

“They have good jobs, but they just can’t afford to be in the actual housing market, and they want to own something,” she said.

For those holding on to the dream of owning a single-family home on the Peninsula, the least-expensive option last week was $760,000 for a two-storey 48-year-old house at 18676 32 Ave. in need of work – and marketed as an “investor opportunity.”

For those looking for home ownership at a lower price point – and who are willing to forego living in a single-detached dwelling – there are still more options.

Among last week’s real-estate listings, the least-expensive Peninsula apartment was priced at $139,000. The 667-sq.-ft. White Rock home is inside the housing co-operative of North Bluff Village near Semiahmoo Shopping Centre. The apartment is in an age-restricted building, 55-plus, and co-op members must pay a monthly housing charge – in this case $320.

Residents collectively own the building and the land it sits on. Should the property ever be sold, resident owners would be the sole beneficiaries. (Incorrect information, supplied by the listing agent, appeared in an earlier version of this story.)

By week’s end, the co-op unit had been sold.

Outside of co-op living, the least expensive apartment last week rang in at $189,000 for a 645-sq.-ft. unit in a 43-year-old building on Merklin Street in White Rock. It’s a top-floor suite within walking distance of shops and services.

Listing agent Wendy Randle said inventory of these older, low-priced apartments is unusually low right now, and this unit comes with its limitations: a 19-plus age restriction, shared laundry and rentals and pets are prohibited.

“We have a pretty small window of people I would think,” she said, adding the unit is suited for a single professional.

In townhouses, the cheapest option was a $399,000 three-storey, 1,300-sq.-ft. unit in South Surrey’s Mirada complex, built in 1997.

According to the latest statistics from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, the average price of a detached house in White Rock and South Surrey is $1,604,670. The average townhouse is priced at $672,123. Apartments are $367,056 on average.

Prices of detached houses have jumped 35 per cent in one year, townhouses have increased by 42 per cent, apartments have risen by 18 per cent.

Despite the increases, sales did slow down in July, according to the real estate board, which says the month marked the first time this year monthly sales didn’t break a historical record.

Board president Charles Wiebe said a slowing down in activity is expected during the summer.

“This is a good thing for our market, and buyers especially. Additional inventory will help drive us towards a more balanced environment for consumers and remove some of the upward pressure on prices we’ve been seeing.”

That might be little comfort for buyers who are still hoping to break into the market.

But for those who can afford a little more, it should be noted that a unit in Breakaway Bays costs just a fraction of the most expensive home for sale in the Peninsula – a $19.7-million White Rock mansion on Marine Drive.

Located on a “breathtaking view acreage,” the 10,740-sq.-ft. house comes with all the high-end finishes and includes an infinity edge self-cleaning pool, koi pond, waterfall, elevator and “endless ocean views.”

Taxes for this property in 2015 were $46,791.60, a little less than the purchase price of the above-mentioned manufactured home.

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