By Sports and Lifestyle Editor Cole Schisler

Heightened demand for homes in Nanaimo has led to an increase in the cost of mortgages and rentals since 2015.

According to the 2016 annual sales summary published by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, (VIREB), the average price of a single family home in Nanaimo has increased 13 percent since 2015. Inventory of single family homes has hit a historic low for Nanaimo with 85 percent of single family homes occupied. The shift has also affected the rental market, as few rental properties are being developed, and available properties are sold quickly.

Janice Stromar, president of VIREB says the market is extremely competitive. Nanaimo has always been a popular destination for Albertans, and retirees from across Canada looking to settle on the West Coast, but Nanaimo has recently become moreattractive for residents of the Lower Mainland and other areas across British Columbia.

“There is very limited inventory and a lot of demand,” Stromar said. “You can put a house on the market Monday and you’ve got an offer by Monday night or Tuesday morning.”

Currently, the average cost of a single family home in Nanaimo is $404,695, in comparison to the $755,000 average in Victoria, and the $919,300 average in Vancouver, so while the Nanaimo market is becoming more expensive, it is a steady growth comparatively, which makes it attractive to families and retirees with fixed incomes.

“If you look in the past, you’ll see this kind of increase. It’s about a 14-year cycle,” Stromar says. “It goes up for seven years, then back down. BC is leading Canada in the economy, and we’re backed by solid job growth, so I don’t think it’s out of control at all.”

Nanaimo is now a community shaped by the University. With that growth comes an influx of students looking for places to rent off campus while they pursue their degrees.

Rob Kelly of Ardent Property Management says that demand for rental properties has increased, because over past decades, the City of Nanaimo did not invest in new rental units, which led to a gap in available properties. At the same time, Malaspina University College transitioned into what is now Vancouver Island University.

“It’s more difficult to be a landlord now,” Kelly said. “There’s less incentive for people to become landlords and produce the supply. The buildings are expensive to buy, and the rate of return is low.”

For renters looking to land a place, Kelly says that would-be tenants should develop good references to show landlords that they are committed to living in a rental unit for the long term.

“For VIU students, in first and second year especially, it’s hard to prove that continuity,” he said. “If they prove they’ve been committed to any kind of organization, or they are someone that’s responsible in their community, that’s what landlords look for.”

Cole is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in creative writing, minoring in political science. He has an interest in all things exciting, mundane, or otherwise. He hopes to one day become an author, actor, comedian, editor, and rapper, while moonlighting as an astronaut.