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Pros and cons of purchasing acreage for sale in the Lower Mainland

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Homebuyers and property investors stand to benefit from plenty of opportunities should they decide to purchase acreage for sale in the Lower Mainland.

The Lower Mainland covers a vast area on the southwestern side of British Columbia, including Vancouver and the surrounding mountains and coast. Because of this, it is also sometimes referred to as “Greater Vancouver” or “Metro Vancouver,” which is considered to be the largest metropolitan area outside of Toronto. 

Technically speaking, however, the Lower Mainland has the following cities and communities under its jurisdiction: Vancouver, Vancouver eastern suburbs, Vancouver southern suburbs, Fraser Valley, North Shore, Sea to Sky, and Sunshine Coast. 

WHAT THE LOWER MAINLAND IS BEST KNOWN FOR 

The Lower Mainland is known as a bustling and thriving business hub. It is home to several major economic players from such industries as manufacturing, shipping and transportation, aerospace and artificial intelligence, food and beverage, and so much more.

One of the most prominent industries here is entertainment. In fact, the Lower Mainland is also known as Hollywood North, thanks largely to the many production sets and companies in it. Anyone looking for opportunities in these industries – whether TV, film, or visual effects – are likely to find them here. 

The Lower Mainland has more to offer beyond these urban industries. The region, in fact, is also well known for its vast rural areas throughout the valley, as well as a good stretch of coastal communities.

And of course, the Lower Mainland has plenty to be proud of when it comes to breathtaking natural sceneries. Mountains perfect for hiking, ski resort towns, pristine lakes, and stunning beaches are all a welcome treat for those who need to rest and recharge from the busyness of city living.

Anyone looking for a piece of property, whether as a permanent residence or long-term investment, can have their fill of choices when it comes to good quality real estate in the Lower Mainland.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF LAND IN THE LOWER MAINLAND

Father and Daughter

Interested buyers have various options when it comes to the types of land that can get in the Lower Mainland. 

Farmland provides plenty of profitable opportunities, as well as a source of passive income. Property developers, meanwhile, can invest in bigger plots of land and erect new construction homes. 

There are also areas where raw land offers the potential to become other types of commercial facilities. Storage units, warehouses, factories, or even shopping centres all can be set up on these properties. 

Raw land can also be used for recreational purposes, either for personal use or commercial gain. And of course, there is vacant land that is perfect for residential development.

Those looking for acreage properties for sale, or any other type of property for sale in the Lower Mainland, are advised to understand the local laws and policies regarding land use and ownership.

INVESTING IN ACREAGE

The vast expanse of land in Vancouver makes the area irresistible for those who dream of acreage living. Apart from having the comfort and privacy that can fetch a hefty price in the city, and moving to a wide open that is more relaxed and conducive for one’s health and wellness, small-scale farming opportunities come with ownership.

A property is technically considered an acreage if it covers at least one acre in size. One acre is equivalent to 4,047 square metres. It’s usually used for agricultural purposes, whether for raising livestock, poultry, grains, and other produce. 

Before you visit acreage properties for sale, it’s as important to take a closer look at whether it’s the right kind of real estate for you. Whether you intend to purchase acreage for investment or long-term residential use, however, one thing you can be sure of is that real estate in the Lower Mainland is going to be very well worth the consideration. 

To better assess the viability of this purchase based on your needs, here is a list of pros and cons to consider.

PROS OF INVESTING IN ACREAGE

countryside aerial view

Investing in an acreage for sale in the Lower Mainland can be highly appealing because of the many benefits and advantages that the property owner can gain from it. 

More space

The biggest and most obvious benefit is the amount of space that an acreage offers. City dwellers can be considered lucky if they have a spacious condo unit to themselves, but even then, access is still very much limited. Even suburban homeowners – while some are fortunate enough to have sprawling yards – still have to share property lines with next-door neighbours. 

With at least a one-acre property, you can do away with most of the limitations and compromises city dwellers face. 

Privacy

Another welcome byproduct of owning property of considerable size is the complete privacy that it affords. Acreage for sale in the Lower Mainland, for example, can come with its own  private road. Thus, owners can choose to build their homes or structures as far away from the main road as they want. Acreage insulates owners from traffic noise and pollution, as well as the daily ruckus of dense neighbourhoods.  

Those who live on acreage will find themselves trading the stress and anxieties associated with urban environments  with the calm and silence within their property. They’ll breathe better and benefit from overall health and wellness. 

Cost

Acreage is usually priced lower than properties in urban areas. Supply and demand explain why this is the case. It’s not really the quality of the land per se, but rather the availability of it that drives up the price. 

There’s a price to pay for the scarcity of available land in urban areas on top of the price to pay for the abundance of perks and conveniences.  With more land but with less amenities outside of the city, property prices follow suit.

Usage 

As long as your intended use for the property aligns with what’s allowed by British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for example, you can have complete control over improvements, customization, or usage of the property to suit your needs. 

Under ALR, you can engage in the following:

  • Common farming and ranching activities
    • Agroforestry
    • Growing mushrooms, berries, fruit trees, field and greenhouse vegetables, grains, seeds, forage crops, ornamentals, more
    • Green housing
  • Farm uses that do not require a permit
    • Wineries and cideries
    • Storage, packing and processing of farm products
    • Timber production, harvesting, and silviculture
    • Equestrian facilities
    • Application of soil amendments
    • Farm retail sales
    • Agri-tourism activities
    • Agroforestry
    • Production of compost 
    • Land development for farm purposes
  • Non-farm activities subject to conditions and/or prohibitions by local governments
    • Home-based businesses
    • Temporary sawmills 
    • Pet kennels and breeding facilities
    • Production, storage, and application of Class A compost
    • Production of biological products used in integrated pest management
    • Extraction of crushed rock and gravel of less than 500 cubic metres
    • Conservation
    • Passive recreation
    • Open land parks
    • Non-school education and research 
    • Trunk sewers, gas and water pipelines within an existing right of way

Other options and benefits

red house

Owners of acreage can either use it or lease it. If the property was purchased to be used as residence, whether primary or secondary, it can be maximized for added income by engaging in any of the activities listed above, depending on your location in BC.

The Province of British Columbia also gives a tax incentive to rural property owners if they can show that the property is also their primary residence. Property owners can also apply to offset carbon credits.

If the property owner has no intention of residing on the land themselves, the property can be leased out to those who might have better use of it. Here’s a guide for agricultural lease agreements  and residential land use in remote areas in British Columbia.  The property can even be offered as a site for a cell tower. In whatever way you would like to use your acreage, profitable  opportunities await.

CONS OF INVESTING IN ACREAGE

Owning acreage property has its cons, too. Generally, those looking to move to or invest in the rural areas have to be prepared for the big changes that come with being away from urban comforts.

Accessibility

Most folks who decide to move to rural areas love the idea of having complete privacy and isolation. While that’s all well and good, the potential downside to that is it can also make everything else inconvenient or inaccessible.

That includes urgent care centres and hospitals, groceries, and simple things like going to the movies or eating out. Accessibility to schools may also be a challenge. 

Utilities and services

Living on remote acreage also impacts access to utilities and services. Cell signals may be spotty or non-existent. The same is true for  internet services.  

While the internet can be accessed via solar-powered wifi hotspots specifically designed for remote areas, they are not likely to be as reliable and cost-efficient.

Maintenance and safety

The bigger the property, the bigger the maintenance requirement. Therefore, it’s important to invest in the necessary equipment or employ services that are needed to maintain the property. Assess the acreage and make a list of must-have tools and equipment. 

Owners also need to be familiar with the area or region their property is in. Learn to identify the plants and local wildlife that can pose a threat – or prove to be beneficial – to the security and safety of your property. Erect the appropriate fence to keep livestock in and predatory species out. Employ approved methods of controlling invasive elements. 

Regularly check with the local authorities for announcements, advisories, policy changes, and scheduled town halls to make sure you don’t miss out on developments that may affect you and your acreage.  

 

OTHER THINGS TO EXPECT WHEN MOVING TO THE LOWER MAINLAND

happy couple

Granted that there are pros and cons to owning an acreage, the simple truth of the matter is that there are far more things to look forward to should you decide to move to or invest in a Lower Mainland property. 

Cultural diversity

One of the most interesting facets of the Lower Mainland is its cultural diversity. While English is the main language used in the region, Mandarin and Cantonese are also spoken by a considerable portion of the population. People living in the Lower Mainland also tend to be fluent in French. 

After all, Lower Mainland’s richly diverse population of 2.8 million people comprise almost 61% of the entire population of British Columbia. Around 300,000 live in the Fraser Valley Regional District, while just a little under 2.5 million are in the greater Metro Vancouver Regional District.

Vancouver’s nickname as the “city of neighbourhoods” alludes to areas with high concentrations of particular ethnicities. Some of the more popular ones include Little Italy, Greektown, Punjabi Market, and Chinatown. 

Improving economy

The economy of Metro Vancouver has shown great recovery in the last couple of years. Local employment rates have been showing a steady increase, save for the start of 2022 when the COVID-19 omicron variant caused a momentary decline in numbers. By May 2022, however, local employment had risen to 1,539,900. This is further expected to improve by 2024.

Beyond these improvements, the metro is also setting its sights on specific economic goals for 2050

These goals focus on five major areas of improvement:

  1. Compact urban area development 
  2. Improved support for sustainable economy
  3. Environment protection, climate change, and natural hazards response
  4. Diverse and affordable housing choices
  5. Sustainable transportation choices

Metro 2050 also forecasts that the region will need to accommodate as much as an additional one million residents in the next 30 years. This means that the region will need to secure as much as half a million housing units and job opportunities for local residents.

Landmarks and attractions

Of course, natural landmarks and attractions abound in the Lower Mainland. Outdoor parks alone make up 11% of the city’s public spaces, totalling to 230. 

Stanley Park, also known as the jewel in Vancouver’s crown, tops visitors’ must-see lists because of its hike-friendly trails, natural lagoons, and expansive beaches. It is also home to the world-class Vancouver Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Canada. 

While beautiful sceneries are all around Vancouver, one of the best spots in all of the region is the Queen Elizabeth Park. Situated 500 feet above sea level, the 130-acre park offers the highest vantage point anywhere in Vancouver. 

This former quarry is now home to lush gardens, manicured lawns, and a healthy variety of flower beds. While in the park, guests may also drop by for a visit at the Bloedel Conservatory, an arboretum in a geodesic dome with exotic plants and birds.

Those who love waterfronts can go to Deep Cove by Seymour. Not only does it have beautiful, cool waters where one can paddle or sail their way up to the Indian Arm, it also features exciting hiking trails for true nature lovers. Deep Cove is so quaint that it’s also a favourite location for many different TV and film productions. 

Those who prefer the cold outdoors can head out to Whistler. It’s the biggest and most popular winter sports arena in all of Canada. In fact, it served as the location for the downhill ski events at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

HOW TO BUY ACREAGE FOR SALE IN LOWER MAINLAND, BC

land for sale

Ready to get started on your search for an acreage?

Here’s how:

  1. Determine zoning 
  2. The municipal or provincial government regulates the use of acreage in their respective areas, including the type of structures that can be built on it. Before you buy,  request the local government’s zoning bylaws to see what the land can be used for. If you intend to turn agricultural land, for example, into a residential development, request zoning bylaw amendments which will be reviewed in a process that may involve public hearings or permit applications.  

  3. Assess the access to utilities
  4. If you intend to build a house on the property or structures for staff or a workforce, does the acreage come with water, power, and gas lines? Are there green energy sources as an alternative? How strong is your cell phone signal in the area? Do telcos provide a stable internet connection? 

    Cheaper acreage may come at the cost of building basic infrastructure and the higher price of access to utilities and services.  

  5. Conduct a land survey 
  6. Conduct topography and site surveys to find out if the land is suitable for the purpose you intend to use it for. While you’re at it, have the surveyor ​​check out property lines and boundaries. Find out if and how elements such as loose soil, slopes, floodplains, and other topographic features are likely to affect your property.

  7. Factor in property taxes

Whether or not you develop the acreage you buy, you will still need to pay the British Columbia property tax. Factor in the amount as a recurring expense on your property. Check the land’s tax records and conduct a title search ahead of time to make sure the property is free from liens and encumbrances.

Remember, too, that raw land (undeveloped and untouched) may require a 50% down payment upfront. Vacant land (partially developed or with access to services or utilities) usually requires 35% or less. 

To make sure every requirement is fulfilled and every step in the buying process is not overlooked, employing the services of a seasoned real estate professional with local expertise is a must. 

WORK WITH DON MUNRO TO BUY ACREAGE FOR SALE IN LOWER MAINLAND,BC

With Don Munro Real Estate, you can look forward to top quality real estate service. I take great pride in having over 35 years of experience dealing with commercial, industrial, agricultural, and large acreage property sales. 

You can count on me to help take care of different processes involving leasing, new business development, and other administrative matters concerning various types of real estate property. 

Feel free to give me a call anytime at 604-8177338 or email me at botsoldmunro(at)gmail(dotted)com. I am looking forward to assisting you in your property search!

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