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On British Columbia’s Coast for $2.5 Million: House Hunting in Canada


This four-bedroom, three-bath home sits on nearly five hilltop acres in Halfmoon Bay, a coastal village in British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast region, just west of Vancouver. The 4,300-square-foot house, accomplished in 2020, overlooks the Salish Sea and various islands within the Strait of Georgia.

The sellers, William and Shirley Van Esch, said that while readying the hilltop for construction, they found “a spot where the rock dipped down, and we thought, hey, wouldn’t that make a pleasant wine cellar,” Mr. Van Esch said. They gave that instruction to their architect, together with a request for a top-floor kitchen, an elevator to the wine cellar, and a guesthouse connected to the foremost house by a breezeway.

Additionally they preserved a small, natural pond on the property, constructing a ramp over it that results in considered one of the house’s entrances. “Every spring we get this cacophony of frogs — we adore it,” Mr. Van Esch said.

The foremost entrance is a single blue door on the bottom floor of the guesthouse, where there’s also a two-car garage. Stairs result in the window-lined breezeway, with a water view on one side and woods on the opposite. The breezeway connects with the upper floor of the foremost house.

The open living area within the foremost house has peaked ceilings of fir with skylights, in addition to fir posts, burnished concrete floors, a free-standing fireplace and huge ocean-facing windows. The kitchen has a nine-foot island and counters fabricated from Dekton, a highly durable material that requires minimal maintenance. Glass doors from the living area open onto a big deck.

A pull-down stairway within the kitchen leads as much as a loft space, which the sellers call the “away room.” It has a comfy window seat overlooking the water.

Off the living area, the first bedroom suite has a custom-built platform bed and a non-public deck. “Once we get up within the morning, without even lifting our heads we will see straight out across the Salish Sea to Vancouver Island,” Ms. Van Esch said.

A walk-in closet behind the bed is accessible via hallways on either side. The en suite bath has a soaking tub, shower and a wash station with a trough sink and a two-sided medicine cabinet suspended above it.

The bottom floor of the foremost house, which will be accessed from outside via the ramp over the pond, has a covered front porch, an office, a family room with one other free-standing fireplace, and a second bedroom and bath.

The wine cellar has a wood bar comprised of a piece of cedar found on the property, Mr. Van Esch said. The guesthouse, above the garage, has an open living area with a kitchenette, and a loft bedroom with a shower. The suite has its own entrance and will be locked off from the foremost house and used as a short-term rental, said Gina Stockwell, senior vp of sales for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, which has the listing.

Rural Halfmoon Bay is on the southern end of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, adjoining to Secret Cove, which has a marina and a resort, Ms. Stockwell said. This property is inside a 20-minute drive of the municipality of Sechelt, which has supermarkets, restaurants and a hospital. The Sunshine Coast is accessible exclusively by ferry or float plane. The ferry terminal on the coast’s southern tip, in Langdale, is a few 50-minute drive from this property; the ferry ride to Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay is 40 minutes. Float planes from Vancouver land in Sechelt.

The Sunshine Coast, nestled within the southwest corner of mainland British Columbia, stretches for 110 miles from Howe Sound as much as Desolation Sound. The realm includes the normal territories of the Squamish, Sechelt, Sliammon and Klahoose nations, and has a population of roughly 50,000.

The region’s mountains, lakes, coastline and inlets make it a paradise for those searching for outdoor recreation. “It was once Vancouver’s best-kept secret,” said Aliese MacKenzie, a sales agent with Re/Max City Realty. “About five years ago, we saw an actual uptick in foreign buyers. That’s when prices began popping up.”

The pandemic further enhanced the region’s desirability, as Vancouver residents “who were stuck in condos fled to larger properties and the power to have a house office,” said Sue Scott, a sales adviser with Engel & Völkers Vancouver.

The median sale price for a detached home within the Sunshine Coast region was just over $1 million Canadian ($726,000) through the first half of this yr, a 22 percent increase over the identical period last yr, in accordance with a market report from Re/Max Canada. That price — which makes the Sunshine Coast considered one of the more cost-effective regions within the Vancouver metro area — typically buys a 1,500-square-foot home with an ocean view in a more built-up location, like Sechelt, Ms. Stockwell said.

Because the starting of 2022, prices have flattened in the world despite “the downward trend within the Greater Vancouver housing market,” in accordance with the report. That’s due partially to a gentle rise in rates of interest this yr, which is cooling the market. Sales of detached homes within the Greater Vancouver area were down across the board through June this yr, though not as much in outer areas just like the Sunshine Coast (down 25 percent) as in additional cosmopolitan pockets like East Vancouver (40 percent), in accordance with Re/Max Canada.

Proximity to the ferry in Langdale dictates prices, which makes the neighboring town of Gibsons probably the most “elite area,” Ms. MacKenzie said.

The region is currently coping with a housing crisis, with a shortage of rentals making it difficult for business owners to seek out enough staff. “A variety of businesses are struggling and, in the event that they have the means, they’re buying housing to deal with their employees,” she said.

Inventory within the Sunshine Coast region, though still relatively low with 277 energetic listings, did climb 73 percent from last September to this September, in accordance with data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Foreign buyers represent a really small share of the market in the world, agents said, as nearly all of buyers are from Vancouver.

Most foreign buyers are from the US, they said. Ms. MacKenzie said the world also attracts buyers from China searching for business investments.

The Canadian government plans to institute a two-year prohibition on home purchases by foreign nationals come January. The ban is a component of an effort to alleviate pressure on housing prices from foreign investors, in accordance with the federal government’s finance department. Temporary staff and international students are exempt from the ban.

Currently, foreign buyers in most areas of British Columbia must pay a further 20 percent tax on home purchases. Nonetheless, purchases on the Sunshine Coast are exempt from that tax, agents said.

“I’ve had buyers from California come up and buy here specifically because there isn’t a foreign buyers tax,” Ms. Scott said.

Buyers and sellers hire their very own lawyer or notary to handle the transaction. Because nearly all of properties on the Sunshine Coast should not connected to a municipal sewer, purchases require a septic system inspection, Ms. MacKenzie said.

English, French; Canadian dollar (1 Canadian dollar = $0.73)

All purchases are subject to a property transfer tax. The graduated rate starts at 1 percent of the fair market value as much as $200,000 Canadian ($145,000), and rises to three percent on any portion of the worth over $2 million Canadian ($1.45 million). An extra 2 percent is due on any portion above $3 million Canadian ($2.18 million).

The annual property taxes on this home are 6,301 Canadian ($4,575), if it is assessed as a second home; the speed is less whether it is a primary residence, Ms. Stockwell said.

Gina Stockwell, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, 604-989-8235, sothebysrealty.ca/en

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