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Average price of a waterfront cabin tops $1 million in B.C.

Invermere, Vernon continue to be targeted by retirement and recreational buyers as prices soar

Michael Kane, Vancouver Sun

Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2007

British Columbians dreaming of owning waterfront property now have to pay more than $1 million.

That's up from $996,000 at this time last year, when the average price was already the highest in the country, according to Royal LePage's 2007 recreational property report released Tuesday.

The standard price for a waterfront cabin in B.C. is $1,009,083 and the average price range is between $621,500 and $1,396,667, the real estate firm says.

Even $1 million won't get you very far if you want waterfront in the Invermere area of the east Kootenays, a 90-minute drive north of Cranbrook and Kimberley. Invermere has the distinction of having the highest-priced waterfront in Canada at $2.5 million for a bare lot, largely thanks to its proximity with Alberta.

Well-heeled buyers from B.C.'s oil-rich neighbour are also pushing up waterfront prices in Vernon, the Okanagan resort town about halfway between Calgary and Vancouver.

"You almost choke when you see the prices but it works out to about $15,000 per front foot," Riley Twyford of Vernon's Royal LePage Downtown Realty said in an interview.

"We've had a tremendous amount of buyers from Alberta whereas purchasers from the Lower Mainland aren't buying as much recreational property, they are more likely selling up and looking to retire here. The actual recreational purchaser is more likely from Alberta."

A standard waterfront property in Vernon ranges between $999,000 and $4 million while waterfront properties on Okanagan Lake can be obtained for as low as $350,000 for leased first nations land to as high as $1 million.

In Kelowna, waterfront properties range from $800,000 to $1.2 million.

"In the last five years, prices have doubled in the recreational property market and prices are expected to continue to increase into next year," Twyford said.

Buyers without $1 million can still find waterfront property further afield, but with strong demand and little inventory, it's a hot commodity even around 100 Mile House on B.C.'s Fraser Plateau.

Prices there for standard waterfront cabins with land access have increased to $380,000, compared to $285,000 in 2006. The average price of a standard waterfront cottage with water access starts at $237,000, compared to $110,000 last year.

Back in Vernon, Twyford said buyers who don't demand waterfront can spend $380,000 -- the average price of a Canadian cottage in 2006 -- to buy an apartment-style condo in Predator Ridge or a two-bedroom townhouse at the Silver Star resort.

$100,000 jump in 100 Mile

The 21st century Cariboo gold rush centres around waterfront property. The area around 100 Mile House is one of the few B.C. regions where a lakefront cabin might still be considered affordable. But if you're looking for something like this property on Bridge Lake, keep in mind it was listed last year at about $995,000 and that average prices for standard waterfront cottages with land access in the area have increased by about $100,000 since then, to $380,000.

AVERAGE PRICE FOR A STANDARD WATERFRONT CABIN WITH LAND ACCESS, 2007

B.C. $1,009,083
Alberta $737,500
Saskatchewan $250,000
Manitoba $382,333
Ontario $469,500
Quebec $525,000
New Brunswick $146,625
Nova Scotia $149,700
Prince Edward Island $225,000
Newfoundland $86,500
National average $427,589
Source Royal LePage

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