by Sam McCall, West Vancouver Real Estate Specialist, RE/MAX Masters Realty
But in recent years, people are beginning to discover the beauty, majesty and unique perspective of West Vancouver.Keenly positioned to capture some of the finest views in the world, West Vancouver has been something of a hidden gem but is now attracting the attention of affluent international investors. While Vancouver has her place on the world stage, the laid-back, lifestyle-oriented West Vancouver is poised to make a memorable entrance into this arena.
West Vancouver has always held a certain prestige in the region and the Town Planning Act of 1926 enhanced its appeal by banning any new industry and requiring larger building lots than the rest of Vancouver. When the Lions Gate Bridge was completed in 1938, it afforded the opportunity to leave behind the industry of Vancouver city and retreat to the unspoiled beauty of the North Shore on a daily basis. Today, West Vancouver is endowed with the same beaches, forests, mountain trails, golf courses and ski slopes that attracted those early residents and it has also become a hub for arts, culture and festivals in the Lower Mainland.
A population of over 44,000 now lives along West Vancouver’s beautiful coastline and on an assortment of picturesque roads that snake their way up the North Shore Mountains. Present day ethnic diversity is drawn from Asia, the Middle East and Europe as well as elsewhere in BC and Canada and its demographic is mainly compromised of senior management, business professionals, educators and academics as well as many of Vancouver’s successful entrepreneurs.
Waterfront living is popular the world over as people are naturally captivated by breathtaking ocean views and access to water, as well the sounds, scents and sense of grandeur that these properties provide. West Vancouver has all this and more – with water views in the foreground, most homes also look across to the towering skyscrapers in Vancouver’s chic, cosmopolitan downtown as well as the magnificence of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
Twenty years ago waterfront home prices were around 60% higher than the average price of non-waterfront properties, now this difference has grown to over 110%! West Vancouver’s detached home market is presently benchmarked at $2.5 million and its waterfront properties at a $5.8 million. However, despite the 50% rise in West Vancouver’s home values over the last 5 years, and claims that the City of Vancouver is now one of the most expensive cities in North America (average price is $1.2 million), when compared to other international cities, West Vancouver is still one of the least expensive locations to buy a single family waterfront home. In Los Angeles’ Laguna Beach the average waterfront home value is almost $10 million, in Malibu the average is $8 million, Sydney, Australia $20 million, Hong Kong a staggering $30 million and in cities such as Shanghai, New York, London and Paris they are almost impossible to find.
There is no question that home ownership in cities such as Sydney, Vancouver and London has become a trend among affluent global investors and Canada is now the third most attractive market, after the U.S. and Australia.
However, it is not only foreign buyers that have had a major influence in the past 10-20 years. The increased demand for property in Vancouver has come from both local and international investors (a recent phenomenon created by the allure of low interest rates and high returns), as well as Canadians relocating within their own country and an increase in immigrants from all over the world. Lifestyle, security, business opportunities, ethnic diversity and a high standard of living are some of the key motivating factors behind the booming demand.
Stemming from this long tradition of migration and investment, the flow of foreign capital has seen Vancouver evolve into a truly multi-cultural society. Vancouver is now considered a global real estate market and a safe place to invest for the long term. This in turn, has resulted in West Vancouver, with its supernatural surroundings, breathtaking views, stunning sunsets and picture-perfect properties, becoming one of the most affluent communities and most desirable places to purchase a home.
Homeowners in West Vancouver enjoy a lifestyle that affords them a sense of a neighbourly community, safe environment and secure investment. While the city is entirely self-contained, with a plethora of amenities, residents have easy accessibility to downtown Vancouver, with all its cosmopolitan sophistication, and a direct connection to major international cities, via Vancouver International airport. Many new homeowners have moved here to take advantage of the top ranking private and public schools such as Collingwood and Mulgrave, and with an abundance of outdoor activities on virtually every doorstep, it’s the perfect place to raise a family.
The diversity of West Vancouver extends deep into the real estate market as it is renowned for it’s fascinating array of home styles, from English and Tudor style mansions to post & beam cottages; character bungalows with old-world charm to modern contemporary and architectural masterpieces; and from luxury condominiums to grand estate homes…..and it’s still possible to buy land value properties where you can design and build your own dream property. Since 1945 West Vancouver has been the centre of award-winning architecture – named The West Coast Style – and talented world-renowned architects such as John Porter, Duncan McNab, C.E. (Ned) Pratt, Arthur Erickson, Fred Hollingsworth and Ron Thom have been inspired by the local landscape.
Aside from the many reasons for choosing to live in West Vancouver, all homeowners have enjoyed the steady rise of property values gained from living on or close by the water.
2014 Statistics for ALL Detached Homes in West Vancouver*
Average List Price $2.500 million
Average Sold Price $2.386 million
Homes selling average: 6.5% below list price
Days on Market 56
Number of homes sold 811
Highest priced home sold $15.1 million
Single Family Homes in West Vancouver start at approx $1 million and span through to $22 million, with over a 25% of inventory priced over $5 million.
Generally West Vancouver’s waterfront homes are worth more than double their counterparts located off the water, although ocean-view homes also have a healthy premium attached to them.
2014 Statistics for Waterfront Detached Homes in West Vancouver*
Average Price $6.584 million
Average Sold Price $5.850 million
Homes selling average: 9% below list price
Days on Market 51
Number of homes sold 22
Highest priced home sold $15.1 million
Waterfront detached homes in West Vancouver start at approx $3.75 million and spans through to $22 million, with over a 50% of inventory priced between $4 – $7 million.
Experts predict that 2015 real estate values will emulate 2014, with prices continuing to increase, demand remaining strong and notwithstanding any international economic fluctuations the local economy will remain buoyant. The continued popularity of West Vancouver is not only due to its lack of industry, but also its growth of the appreciation of community well being, maintenance of the natural environment, encouragement in the diversity of housing, inter-cultural experiences and physical activities. It’s no wonder that some of the world’s most affluent and influential business people choose to reside here.
There is truly a home for every discerning buyer within West Vancouver’s communities and its 19,000 homes (approx.). Few locations could offer the theatre-tiered topography that is found in West Vancouver, which coupled with its beaches, rugged shoreline, bays and rivers has established distinct community identities.
West Vancouver’s waterfront communities stretch from Ambleside with its beach-like atmosphere, along the coast through Dundarave, Lighthouse Park, the boating community of Eagle Harbour, the hidden gem of Whytecliff Park and finishes with the vibrant village of Horseshoe Bay, from where you can take a ferry to Vancouver Island and other coastal communities.
On higher ground, Caulfeild Village, Cypress Park Estates and the prestigious British Properties boast stunning panoramic ocean and coastline views.
Ambleside is perhaps West Vancouver’s most diverse community, with residents ranging from young entrepreneurs and professionals living in apartment buildings to seniors still residing in their original, older style homes. Single-family homes sale prices range from $1 – 5 million, with an average sold price of $2 million in 2014, while attached homes (condos and apartments) range from $220,000 to $2.7 million, averaging around $750,000. From its cluster of restaurants, shops and galleries along Marine Drive to the newly renovated Park Royal Shopping Centre, the Ambleside area also offers easy access to beaches, sea walks, and parks.
Dundarave has a vibrant village atmosphere and is full of charming restaurants, coffee houses, pubs and bistros as well as boutique shops and galleries offering a diversity that meets a variety of tastes and preferences. The neighbourhood is mainly made up of professionals and executives residing in condos, apartments, detached and semi-detached homes. In 2014, single-family homes sale prices range from $1.5 -17 million, with an average sold price of $2.7 million. During last year West Vancouver’s highest price sale was located on Dundarave’s waterfront at just over $15 million. Attached homes (condos and apartments), many of which are located along the waterfront, range from $200,000 to $6 million, with an average sold price of $1.2 million in 2014.
The British Properties is a prestigious community that features large private lots as well as spectacular panoramic views of Vancouver. It lays claim to the one of the finest schools in the area – Collingwood Private School – as well as the exclusive private member only clubs of Capilano Golf & Country Club and Hollyburn Country Club – offering numerous activities, sports, dining, entertainment and social events. Single-family homes sale prices range from $1-10 million, with an average sold price of $2.9 million in 2014.
The Upper Levels communities are comprised of Chartwell, Westhill, Panorama Ridge, Canterbury, Whitby Estates, Chelsea Park and Deer Ridge. These are positioned above Highway 1 up to the borders of the vertical limit of West Vancouver. Estate lots, custom homes to artfully designed townhomes enjoy the spectacular, unobstructed ocean, city & Lions Gate Bridge views. Single-family homes sale prices range from $1-9 million, with an average sold price of $3.5 million in 2014, while attached homes (condos and apartments) range from $560,000 to $4.5 million, averaging around $1.2 million.
Altamont, with its well-established estate homes is the epitome of serenity. Positioned strategically beside Dundarave, residents benefit from all the nearby amenities, along with easy access to Highway 1 and the spectacular, tranquil beaches. Properties for sale along the waterfront are extremely rare and often fetch upwards of $6-10 million. Single-family homes sale prices range from $1.7-14 million, with an average sold price of $4.6 million in 2014.
West Bay, Sandy Cove & Cypress
The small communities of West Bay, Sandy Cove and Cypress are linked by Marine Drive, West Vancouver’s main thoroughfare that winds its way through these quiet yet affluent neighbourhoods with estate size lots and access to numerous beaches. Living here offers the perfect combination of quiet luxurious living, with more affordable prices and easy access to recreational activities such as skiing on nearby Cypress Mountain. Single-family homes sale prices range from $1.3-8 million, with an average sold price of $3.3 million in 2014.
Caulfeild is considered by many as the epitome of West Vancouver living with quiet, secluded streets showcasing some of the area’s oldest homes alongside the newest designs. The unique harmony of this old/new blend reflects the essence of this eclectic community. While it seems far away from the bustle of downtown Vancouver and busy shopping areas in Ambleside, the heart of Caulfeild has its own village shopping area, several schools and a fast transit system into the rest of West Vancouver. Winding roads weave their way over the rocky headland, so many Caulfeild homes enjoy stunning vistas towards Vancouver’s city lights in one direction and in the other, views across the magnificent Straight of Georgia towards Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Single-family homes sale prices range from $1-7 million, with an average sold price of $2 million in 2014.
The Eagle Harbour area is comprised of Eagle Ridge, Eagle Harbour and Gleneagles and is a charming waterfront community centred on boating. There are three marinas in this compact area – West Vancouver Yacht Club, Thunderbird Marina and Eagle Harbour Yacht Club. Sensational waterfront homes dot the seashore, bluffs, ridges and are designed to optimize the panoramic views. Single-family homes sale prices range from $800,000 -7 million, with an average sold price of $1.9 million in 2014.
Whytecliff is a charming secluded waterfront community located close to Horseshoe Bay and is the most westerly point of West Vancouver. Set on a dramatically rugged shoreline with access to sandy beaches, views from Whytecliff extend across Howe Sound to nearby Bowen Island making it an idyllic location to take in beautiful sunsets. Single-family homes sale prices range from $1-5 million, with an average sold price of $2.5 million in 2014.
Horseshoe Bay is located at the western tip of the entrance to Howe Sound and marks the end of West Vancouver before Highway 1 joins the Sea to Sky Highway, which heads north to communities such as Lions Bay, Squamish and Whistler. A community of 1,000 permanent residents live in Horseshoe Bay, which is also home to a major BC Ferry terminal, linking the mainland to Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island. Tourists and locals are drawn to the picturesque waterfront park and marina, the quaint seaside shopping, and, of course the sensational water views with a backdrop of the rugged coastal mountains. Single-family homes sale prices range from $800,000-2 million, with an average sold price of $1.3 million in 2014. Attached homes (condos and apartments) range from $700,000 to $1.1million, with an average sold price of $850,000 in 2014.
The West Vancouver real estate market has many unique attributes and Sam McCall is committed to analyzing and understanding the factors and influences that affect this market so he can provide his clients with a truly comprehensive service. Sam has an established an unsurpassed reputation of excellence in negotiating luxury residential sales and has earned the distinction of being one of the most respected names in West Vancouver amongst his clients and colleagues.
Known for his superb communication skills and calm demeanor, Sam McCall’s industry expertise, negotiating power, impeccable integrity, and passion for personalized service are nothing short of inspiring. He is the recipient of RE/MAX’s Circle of Legends Award, given for the highest level of achievement and performance within RE/MAX. He consistently receives industry honours internationally and here in Canada.
If you ask Sam about helping his clients sell their luxury homes, he will tell you “It is a fabulous profession, I love what I do.”
*Statistics are representative of data reported to the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), and neither REBGV nor its MLS can guarantee the accuracy of this data, which may not reflect all the real estate activity in the area. E&OE.