Time to think of Terrace?

Terrace may be a quaint city on B.C.’s Skeena River, but it is a regional and retail hub for the northwestern portion of its province.

The region is undergoing major economic transformation with billion-dollar investments in forestry, mining, smelting, hydroelectricity, liquefied natural gas, as well as infrastructure projects in the Kitimat-Terrace industrial corridor.

With increasing activity increasingly descending on the region, Westjet recently commenced a twice-daily flights from Terrace to Vancouver at the end of November. Direct access to tidewater has established the region as a vital freight and commodities corridor for the Pacific Rim while its location at the junction of three major roadways is also pivotal to the region.

With so much industry and infrastructure investment, Terrace is naturally expecting a significant inflow of skilled and highly paid workers to the region, adding to the area’s population of just under 20,000. Local investors are already tapping into this market with house prices rising, on average, by 16 per cent in the last 18 months.

“There has been a definite spike in sales in the last year,” says John Evans, an agent with RE/MAX Coast Mountains. “There is almost a zero vacancy rate here, so savvy investors are coming in now. A lot of construction work has already started so there is a demand for rental properties.”

The average price of a single-family home is $294,067, according to the latest statistics for the first three months from the Northern B.C. Real estate Board (NBCBEB).

In the first quarter of 2014, 101 properties were sold overall in Terrace, up from 60 last year. This year, the total value of these properties was $23 million – double the $11.5 million total for the first quarter of 2013. As of March 31, there were 121 properties of all types available for sale in the Terrace area over the MLS system, down from 184 on March 31, 2013.

While demand for housing is increasing monthly, says Evans, prices remain affordable for investors. “To date, house prices have remained relatively stable, but rents have actually increased by about five per cent,” he says. “With so little housing stock on the market, we are expecting this rate to continue at this pace.”

Mobile homes are a popular residential choice in Terrace, with prices starting at the $20,000 mark. “These are suitable for the smaller or first-time investor. Rents are less for this type of property but considering the amount of workers expected to come to the area in the future, investor can earn a healthy cash flow quickly.” Two-unit single-family homes yield better returns, says Evans. “Houses that are near the access routes and in ‘move-in’ condition will rent quickly, especially for those who are primarily coming here to work on a short-term basis.”

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