Written by Debra Lynn
Port Alice residents wouldn’t be wrong to think that there are a whole lot of new faces in town. Since the Neucel pulp mill curtailment in 2015, when mill workers began leaving town to find work elsewhere, 108 properties have been scooped up by a new bargain-hunting demographic.
According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s database, in 2019 there were 24 property sales. Seventeen were condominiums selling between $27,500 and $115,000, with an average sale price of $53,529. Also sold were 3 houses for $139,000, $180,000 and $370,000, two trailers for $20,000 and $32,000, and two lots, one in town for $58,000 and one at Alice Lake for $169,000.
2018 was the banner year for sales when 32 properties exchanged hands.
Nineteen of them were condos, selling between $29,900 and $82,000, for an average sale price of $52,132. Ten houses sold within a range of $95,000 and $320,000, average: $219,850. Three lots sold, one on Marine Drive for $70,000 and two at Alice Lake for $149,000 and $169,000.
2017 was another busy year with 27 real estate transactions. Seventeen were condos with a final sale price between $21,000 and $70,000, for an of $40,765. Six houses sold, between $82,800 and $275,000, for an average of $181,000, as well as two trailers for $51,750 and $65,000. Two lots sold, one at Benson Lake for $42,500, and one at Alice Lake for a whopping $935,000!
Buyers found some real bargains in 2016. Of the 11 properties sold that year, six were condos selling between $24,000 and $48,000, for an average price of $32,983, and 3 were houses, selling for $128,000, $115,000 and $150,000. One trailer sold for $20,000 and one lot on Neurotsos Inlet sold for $127,450.
In 2015, the year of the mill curtailment, nine properties were disposed of, five condos between $26,990 and $85,000, and four houses between $60,500 and $155,000. This is similar to 2014, when eight properties sold.
So far, in 2020, five properties have new owners: two condos for $64,000 and $92,000, and three single family homes for $139,000, $147,500 and $205,000. Either because of limited inventory and/or the pandemic, sales are down but still sustaining a pulse. In 2020, the average condo prices have increased by 46 per cent from 2015. House prices have increased by 32 per cent.
It is to be noted that these sales figures do not represent private sales. There has also been active selling of acreages in the Quatsino Sound area, which is in the Port Hardy real estate district.
Presently, there are 20 active listings in Port Alice: 13 condos for sale with list prices ranging from $59,000 to $165,000 and one house asking, $275,000. The remaining listings are lots at Alice Lake with list prices ranging from $117,000 to $179,000. The only commercial property for sale in Port Alice is the Quatsino Chalet, listed at $2,588,000.
If the average house price in BC is $737,834, according to the Western Investor, Port Alice homes are a remarkable bargain. With more baby-boomers retiring and living on a pension, the rise of the remote working economy, the town’s lack of contagious overcrowding and its distance from pandemic epicenters, the favorable food growing environment as well as the beautiful surroundings, Port Alice is quite an attractive place to live. It is hard to believe that only few years ago some residents were predicting that Port Alice would become a ghost town because it no longer had a large industrial employer.