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Real estate in the Fraser Valley, B.C.: A home-buying guide

Lake view in Valley, B.C. A

Welcome to the Fraser Valley!

Like the majestic Fraser River that runs through British Columbia, the Fraser Valley is a robust region where bustling cities and booming industries coexist with tranquil rural communities and grand natural landscapes. So, whether you’re a parent looking for a better quality of life for your family or an investor looking for your next business venture, the Fraser Valley has a bounty of opportunities just for you.

Located in the southwestern part of British Columbia, Canada, the Fraser Valley constitutes the lower mainland area west of the Coquihalla River mouth. This area stretches from the town of Hope to all of the Fraser lowlands within Canadian borders, including the municipalities and electoral areas of the Fraser Valley Regional District and some regional districts of Metro Vancouver.

The Fraser Valley is made up of major cities like Surrey, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Langley, as well as towns and communities like Mission, White Rock, Hope, North Delta, Agassiz (Kent), Harrison, Yarrow, and Boston Bar.

Living in the Fraser Valley

Rich culture and history

The Fraser Valley was carved out by millions of years of melting ice and rapid waters. Its history is just as winding and deep.

  • First property owners. The Stó:lō people were the first to live in the Fraser Valley area 10,000 years ago. In their language, their name meant “People of the River” as their society’s sustenance and survival hinged on the Fraser River.
  • One of Canada’s greatest explorations. In 1808, New York-born Simon Fraser and his party were the first settlers to arrive in the Fraser Valley. He was best known for his exploration of the Fraser River and its surrounding canyons in the hope of discovering a new transportation route to the Pacific Ocean.
  • The glitter of gold. The discovery of gold in the Fraser River was a pivotal point in the Fraser Valley’s history. It brought a surge of settlers into the area during the Fraser River Gold Rush, which led to the establishment of the Colony of British Columbia in November 1858 at Fort Langley. 13 years later, British Columbia became an official province of Canada.

Bountiful farms, vineyards, and wineries

young african woman buying fruits at the market

Local farmers owe a lot to the mild climate of the Fraser Valley for their bountiful produce consisting of berries, dairy, and poultry. These conditions make it a haven for wineries, farm-to-table restaurants, and stunning show gardens. Here’s what to expect from the Fraser Valley’s abundant harvest:

Festivals and celebrations all year round

family at christmas market xmas winter fair

The Fraser Valley boasts a host of spectacular natural marvels, as well as culturally diverse communities. Thus, you can expect the most thrilling array of outdoor activities and colourful cultural events the whole year round.

Greet the arrival of spring with the Chilliwack Tulip Festival, the municipality’s largest flower festival, and the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair where the world’s best cowboys and cowgirls compete in the renowned Cloverdale Invitational Rodeo. You can also enjoy other attractions during these two events with the whole family.

As summer comes along, locals and tourists alike can revel in the non-stop festivals and markets here. Check out:

As the year winds down during the fall and winter seasons, keep your spirits up by:

Endless parks, trails, and landscapes

chilliwack lake with dead fallen tree trunks and driftwood

There’s no shortage of wonderful things to enjoy in the Fraser Valley with its wide array of markets and festivals, beautiful parks and trails, and gorgeous natural landscapes. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the area has served as a spectacular backdrop for several top-rated TV shows like Once Upon a Time, Riverdale, Supernatural, The X-Files, The Good Doctor, and Smallville, to name a few.

The Valley’s spirit is very much alive in its natural parks and landscapes, as their protection and preservation are given the topmost priority. A project related to this is Experience the Fraser, a recreational, cultural, and heritage project that allows visitors to experience the beauty and potential of the mighty Fraser River – the Valley’s primary water artery. In fact, much of the Valley’s rich stories and history revolve around this body of water.

Regional parks here are filled with nature trails and the most spectacular vistas that the Fraser Valley can offer as you engage in your favourite outdoor activity. Consider hiking, biking, or bird-watching through these scenic trails in the warmer months. When temperatures drop, take to the snow-covered hills for some snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Avid cyclists, meanwhile, troop to the City of Delta every July for the adrenaline-pumping Tour de Delta.

For bird and wildlife enthusiasts, catching glimpses of the migratory birds that make Delta their home from October to April is a thrill like no other.

For something more leisurely, there is Cultus Lake – a resort town south of Chilliwack – which has both an adventure park and a waterpark. There’s also Crescent Beach and White Rock Pier in Surrey if you prefer the ocean breeze. You could also opt to take a trip back in time to the Chilliwack Antique Powerland Pioneer Village or visit kid-friendly farms like the Chilliwack Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm and Fantasy Farms.

All these gifts of Mother Nature, combined with plenty of employment opportunities, affordable housing costs, and productive farmland, guarantee the best quality of life possible in the Fraser Valley.

Buying a home in the Fraser Valley

For sale signage

Buying a home is one of the biggest milestones in a person’s life as it entails a huge investment. For first-time buyers in British Columbia, the entire process may seem complicated, but our guide to buying a Fraser Valley home can assure a smooth-sailing journey in the home-buying endeavour.

Before actually making the purchase, there are important things to keep in mind about home-buying practices in British Columbia:

  • No dual agency. B.C. laws and regulations state that you cannot have more than one agent working for you in the same area. Similarly, one agent cannot act for both a buyer and a seller, or two buyers, in the same transaction. This ensures that the interests of all parties aren’t compromised in the process.
  • Special taxations. There are certain differences in purchasing and tax requirements for Canadian and foreign buyers. For example, there’s a “speculation tax” for foreign investors who don’t pay income tax or live in B.C. There are also tax exemptions, such as those meant for some first-time buyers, depending on the kind of home they’re buying. You can learn more about additional taxes or exemptions from the Property Transfer Tax office website or the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Mortgage pre-approval. This document is proof from a lending institution that you can qualify for a mortgage based on basic financial information you shared with them. This not only gives you a clear idea of how much house you can afford but also provides an advantage in the competitive market. That’s because many home sellers will favour potential buyers who are pre-approved for their proven financial capability.

Deciding to buy

When mulling over your big decision, it’s important to picture the life you will be enjoying in the Fraser Valley. There are certain things you can expect from this vibrant region:

Centre of agricultural production and innovation

If you’re planning to invest or start a business in farming and agriculture, the Fraser Valley is your golden land of opportunity – literally! This area generates around $1 to $3 billion each year in the agricultural sector alone, being Canada’s most intensely farmed region. And even if you don’t plan on joining the farming community, you can still partake of the Fraser Valley’s plentiful bounty through its world-class, largely diverse local market.

High quality of life

From its gorgeous flower fields to the grand rocky canyons surrounding the Fraser River, the Fraser Valley is a dream destination for people with active lifestyles, a deep love for nature, and a desire to be surrounded by majestic views. For all the wonderful perks that this expansive region offers, the cost of living here is reasonable. In fact, it is 14% lower than the average for British Columbia, and 1% lower than the national average.

Working with a real estate agent

First-time buyers may find the Fraser Valley real estate market a challenge to navigate but partnering with a team of real estate agents with decades of experience eases the stress out of the home-buying transaction. You can bank on their expert knowledge of the Fraser Valley’s real estate market, rising industries, and community developments.

Searching for your Fraser Valley home

woman uses digital table to search for new home

The Fraser Valley has a wide selection of properties that can complement the lifestyle you choose. Whether you opt for a regular-sized single-family home, a luxury home near the hills for the utmost privacy, or acres of raw land to build your agricultural empire, you will be spoilt for choice here.

To guide you in your property-buying journey, here’s a rundown of the Fraser Valley’s top cities:

Abbotsford

It’s one of the most sought-after locations for homebuyers and for good reason. Its wide-open spaces allow for both the luxuries of city life and the intimacy of small-town living. It’s easy to put down roots in this quaint community consisting primarily of local farmers, artisans, wine and craft beer brewers, and boutique shop owners.

Home prices here may go as high as $1.1 million with single-family, detached homes dominating the local market. There are also condos and apartment types around the centre of Abbotsford, especially near the main roads of South Fraser Way and George Ferguson Way. There’s also a spattering of townhouses in the suburban areas of Clearbrook.

Chilliwack

In this fast-paced age of technology and social media, there’s a need to unplug and reconnect to something else – the land that nourishes us. And no place values nature’s gifts more than Chilliwack. Like its original Stó:lō name, “Ts’elxwéyeqw” (Ch-ihl-kway-uhk) which means, “going back upstream as far as you can go in a canoe”, here you’ll find a laid-back artistic community with a taste for thrilling outdoor adventures.

The more high-end homes listed in Realtor.ca reveal a mix of standard single-family abodes sitting on sprawling acres of land or mansions that define the height of luxury. But a majority of available homes for sale here consists of single-family detached homes. There is also a sizeable amount of townhomes, condos, and multi-family homes, but they are mostly concentrated around Chilliwack Proper Village West, Sardis, Vedder Crossing, and Promontory.

Langley

If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that strong and supportive communities are essential to a great quality of life. For young and growing families, the township of Langley provides the perfect mix of unique communities, peaceful farm life, and exciting urban amenities.

Low home values in Langley contribute largely to the overall cost of living here. A May 2021 report by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board shows that it is around 50% less expensive to live here than in Vancouver. There are many single-family detached homes in all of Langley’s communities, but you can also find an assortment of townhomes and apartments concentrated around Langley City and the Willoughby-Willowbrook area.

Making an offer and closing

A real estate agent can help in drafting your offer but having a lawyer on your team seeing to the legal details is better. This will be recorded in a Contract of Purchase and Sale, which will include agreed-upon results of the negotiation, as well as contingencies to be satisfied before the sale can push through. These contingencies usually involve professional inspections of the property, as well as making the necessary financial arrangements for the transaction.

Once all the subjects are removed, the ownership of the property will officially and legally be transferred to you. You are now the owner of a Fraser Valley home!

The Fraser Valley real estate market

mini model houses on stacked coins

Doing your research on the overall climate of the real estate market can give you a more strategic approach to your house purchase. Here’s a rundown of the Fraser Valley’s real estate market in 2021:

It’s a seller’s market

The same May 2021 report by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board states that sellers continue to dominate while buyers scramble for every new listing that appears. While a whopping 78% surplus of new listings was registered year-on-year, the housing inventory is still 22% lower than it was in the previous month. A standard single-family home being put up for sale will only take 14 days on average before it’s snapped by an eager buyer.

Overall, even with the amped-up increase in the Fraser Valley housing inventory, it still cannot keep up with the overwhelming buyer demand. This has resulted in higher sale prices with sellers making substantial returns on their investment.

Buyer motivations

The pandemic has driven many people to boost more value in their homes through home upgrades and/or renovations. This, combined with record-low lending rates and the Fraser Valley’s high quality of life, motivates buyers into entering the local housing market despite the soaring prices and the fierce bidding wars.

The pandemic also caused a high demand for homes that not only provide more wiggle room among its inhabitants but also more amenities that bring convenience, comfort, and recreation to another level. Thus, the rise of the Fraser Valley luxury market.

However, single-detached homes remain the most sought-after property type in the Fraser Valley, buoyed by people moving in from Vancouver.

Cozy architectural styles

Most Fraser Valley homes are designed to fit seamlessly with their natural landscape and weather conditions. In the mid-range, you’ll find a lot of ranch and bungalow types, usually in the farmhouse and contemporary craftsman style. Luxury properties tend to be more unique, ranging from homes with a chic modern style to stunning French Country-influenced mountain villas. Properties within the higher price range also have more acreage and additional buildings such as guest houses, barns, and detached workshops.

Hottest neighbourhood

In 2020, the top-selling neighbourhoods in the Fraser Valley were Chilliwack and Abbotsford. January 2021 real estate figures from the Chilliwack Real Estate Board also spiked by 102.4% year-on-year. With the market seeing first-time homebuyers and people looking for bigger spaces, Chilliwack is expected to continue its streak as the most popular neighbourhood this year.

Forecast for the Fraser Valley

While buyers still managed to dominate the local market in May, there are signs of a turning point in favour of buyers. The FVREB received the highest volume of new listings in March this year, soaring by a whopping 254% from April 2020 figures. As new listings come in and improve the supply in the market, buyers can look forward to a gradual easing down of home prices.

I can help you find your Fraser Valley home

Looking for bigger and better spaces for your family in the Fraser Valley? Let me help you! I’m Don Munro, a Fraser Valley Realtor with over 35 years of real estate experience and successful deals. sales, acquisitions, and leasing of a wide range of property types. My knowledge and expertise cover the areas of Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack.

With my foolproof strategy and knowledge of equitable financial and legal options, I can take out the anxiety in the most complicated transactions. Start your home-buying journey in the Fraser Valley today by calling me at 604.817.7338 or by sending me an email at botsoldmunro(at)gmail(dotted)com.

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