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With diverse waterfront cities and bustling seaside towns, it’s no wonder that the west coast of Canada has consistently been a desirable luxury market. But in my view, what truly differentiates the British Columbia coastline are its islands.
B.C.’s rugged Pacific shore spans nearly 500 miles from the border with Alaska to the border with Washington, and the local waters are home to approximately 40,000 islands. In regions like this, where small and uninhabited isles are abundant, luxury buyers sometimes have the unique opportunity to acquire property on private islands, or to purchase their own island outright.
If you represent a coastal real estate market like me, you may also have buyers inquire about buying land on a private island. Based on my experience, here are some of the main considerations for agents and clients to keep in mind.
Everyone can embrace the island lifestyle
I didn’t grow up on an island, but B.C.’s Sunshine Coast is pretty close. Practically the only way to access Sechelt — the maritime village where my grandparents bought a recreational property in the 1960s, and where my family has called home since — is by ferry from West Vancouver. And there’s a reason why I’ve chosen to remain here and launch three businesses, and now help other people find homes here. Living in a place like this is paradise, and buyers are increasingly aware of it.
There’s no singular buyer profile when it comes to private islands. Anyone who wants peace, privacy, and a sense of perpetual vacation can find an ideal home on one. This includes buyers who are interested in the possibility of building multiple homes for a family compound or an exclusive retreat to entertain friends. Those who love nature and yearn for a serene, pristine environment near water will enjoy these places, as will anyone who has a passion for nautical pastimes like sailing and yachting.
But no matter who my client is, there are three factors that I bring to their attention before they buy land on a private island:
Island living should indeed feel remote, but should it actually be remote? My advice is that having a harbor nearby is an asset. Knowing that the facilities, amenities, and conveniences of the mainland are within reach brings peace of mind.
Don’t just think about sailing to and from your island home, but flying, too. Floatplanes and helicopters are potential options for quick transport to and from a remote island retreat and can deliver you to your destination in minutes, rather than hours.
People move to private islands to pursue a simpler life, so the last thing they want is needless complexity. I remind agents and buyers that living the island life requires a certain level of coordination and preparedness. That includes making sure to secure reliable delivery of goods and groceries when necessary, as well as arranging transport for any staff who manage and maintain the property.
Even if a private island is easily accessible, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be readily equipped. Many island properties require extra resources, such as satellite internet access, solar arrays for electricity, and reservoirs for water.
Private island properties are like no others
Once you and your clients successfully navigate the critical considerations of acquiring private island property, it’s worth it. Here on the west coast of B.C., people are always surprised by the abundant wildlife that graces the local islands. From majestic deer to visiting black bears to the occasional venturesome coyotes crossing over from the mainland, the natural wonders never cease.
A private island is a sanctuary that allows homeowners to shake off the relentless pace of urban life, unwind and unplug, and be immersed in balance, beauty, and relaxation.
Gina Stockwell is a successful real estate agent with over 25 years of business experience. She grew up on the Sunshine Coast and has a passion for real estate. In her first year as a REALTOR®, she achieved Medallion Club status and has since achieved Presidents Club status. Gina currently holds the title of Senior Vice President of Sales for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada and is the number one realtor on the Sunshine Coast. She has experience in all aspects of land development and is committed to providing exceptional service to her clients.