Bear Mountain, British Columbia: Grin and Bear it

Ever wonder what it would be like to own premium properties near a beautiful resort, a 36-hole golf course and crystal clear lakes at the base of cascading mountains off the Pacific Coast? Well, stop wondering - your opportunity to purchase a high-end home at a discount in the Bear Mountain neighbourhood just northwest of Langford, B.C. beckons.

Existing home sales began to soften in Langford during June, with single-unit sales falling to 42, down from 61 in May, and condominiums falling to 17, down from 22 in May.

Average housing prices in Langford, by contrast, increased during June, with single family homes rising to $586,802 in June from $570,497 in May and condominiums rising to $295,359 from $293,841.

But that's not the trend in this beautiful upper-class neighbourhood, near The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa. In fact, prices on the mountain have dropped by about five per cent, says Cheri Crause, a Realtor with Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty.

Langford's prices could also take a dip as buyers remain reluctant to purchase homes because of the harmonized sales tax (HST) and a flood of new housing entering the market, she adds.

Housing starts in Langford have risen five times higher than they were last year from January to May, increasing to 321 compared to just 56 during the same time period in 2009.

The biggest spike in development from January to May was the increase in apartment-condominium starts, which rose to 133 in 2010 from zero in 2009, while single-unit starts rose to 161 in 2010 from 46 in 2009 over the same time period. But for now, Bear Mountain presents the best future opportunity, Crause says.

Leading up to the recession, the neighbourhood's housing prices continued to rise as investors bought homes only to flip them a year or two later.

"But those days are gone." "If you're going in to invest on a short-term basis and think that you're going turn around and sell in a year to make a quick buck, then I would question that. As a long-term investment, and if you do your homework and it's a long-term prospect, you will make money in Bear Mountain."

Gord Knox, president of the Victoria Real Estate Investment Club, also has his eye on Bear Mountain. "In my opinion if you buy there, and you're willing to wait five or 10 years, it'll be a great investment," he says. "But if you're not there for the long haul, then you're going to feel frustrated."

Single-unit homes are about $750,000 on average, Crause says, and most of them have been constructed with a legal rental suite, which many homeowners rent out for about $1,250 a month. Buying properties like these could double investors monthly rent income

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