“We are more year-round now, especially with the mountain biking [season] extending itself,” says Allyson Sutton, who sells in B.C.’s Whistler region. “We have a lot of activities in the spring and fall, after winter ends and before summer starts.”
Indeed, what was once only a six-month selling season is now a sustainable full-year career for many agents who already have a stronghold in the market. Coral Robinson, a broker who works in Ontario’s Blue Mountain region, says the shift in seasonality has been remarkable.
“The change is unbelievably good, it’s like a different universe,” she says, pointing to the region’s popular Elvis Festival, its annual Centurion Cycling race, and other popular weekend events. “We’ve had a growth in inventory but we’ve also had a growth in sales.”
Still, it’s important for agents new to the niche market to understand the finer points of selling off the grid. Septic and water systems, for example, are quite different from those in more populated areas, as are building codes and zoning regulations.
“It’s not a market that you can pick up quickly,” Robinson says. “We have matters that [agents] need to be familiar with, including zoning matters, wells and septic tanks, winter issues, winter driving. So there’s a lot to know about the area before you go and try to represent a property here. Local knowledge is a very important part of real estate in this area.”
Sutton says it’s also important to educate potential clients on these issues.
“Educate people on what the market is and the variables of what people are looking for – income, profitability,” she says, adding that it’s also a challenge to get in front of clients. “Most of the clientele for selling is international. It’s not a local community.”
For that reason, Sutton says it’s important to resort to more traditional marketing tools, like cold calling and flyers.
“In residential, you can get to know people a little easier, but in a resort market the challenge is getting clients. You can’t just go knocking on doors and meet people,” she says. “I did a lot of advertising, [got] leads from listings and sales, a couple of clients from open houses and a couple from calling. But a lot of it is referrals.”
In the country’s most popular markets, new inventory stock may be hard to find. However there is one rapidly growing niche that may still have plenty of opportunities for agents in the know.