Buntzen Lake Beach, Port Moody, BC
It doesn’t matter whether you’re bullish or bearish on real estate, just about everyone agrees: property is really expensive in Vancouver. But is buying a home in the Greater Vancouver Area a bad investment? Not if you’re in it for the long haul. Vancouver is one of those rare cities where there really is a shortage of land—what with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. Even if prices drop in the short term, as long as you can afford to hold tight, they’ll recover eventually. And by choosing a neighbourhood within the city where prices are not yet in the stratosphere, you can minimize the risk.
When we analyzed the neighbourhoods in Greater Vancouver for value, growth potential (momentum) and desirability (realtor grade), we weren’t surprised to see Port Moody Centre at the top the list. This tree-lined neighbourhood of single-family homes near Simon Fraser University certainly seems to offer value: Last year approximately 30 properties sold in this area at a benchmark price of just over $700,000—almost $50,000 less than the benchmark price for the Greater Vancouver Area. “Fact is, you get a lot more for your money in this community,” explains Rhonda Davis, a realtor with RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside. Plus there’s a mix of housing types: from newer townhomes, to older bungalows to side- and back-splits.
But Port Moody Centre boasts more than affordable homes (affordable for Vancouver, that is). “It’s art-focused so it still retains that sense of community,” explains Scott Stevenson, realtor with Keller Williams Black Diamond Realty. “Plus people in this neighbourhood are active,” Stevenson says. “They ride bikes, go for walks, or just stroll around before ordering some fish and chips from Pajo’s, or sitting on the patio at the Boathouse.” When they go shopping, local residents can visit their community meat shop, bakery, or fruit stand, or they can hop in a car and drive 10 minutes to the IGA.
Then there’s the location. Part of the reason Port Moody ranks so well is because the area is an accessible Metro Vancouver bedroom community, and it will become even more so when the rapid transit SkyTrain reaches the area in 2016.
The No. 2 neighbourhood on our list is Brentwood Park in North Burnaby. “Brentwood is becoming trendy, but not like Commercial Drive, where the hipsters hang out,” explains Davis. “Families who can’t afford Westside neighbourhoods—but still want a view of the ocean and easy access to downtown Vancouver—like Brentwood because it fills that niche.” Part of the community’s attraction is its relatively reasonable house prices—of the 30 or so single-family homes that sold in this area in 2014, the benchmark price was around $950,000. As an added bonus, the neighbourhood also continues to offer authentic, owner-operated espresso cafés and straight-from-Italy dinner spots which helps create and keep the community’s eclectic, authentic vibe.
MoneySense | March 11 2015