What It’s Like Living in Fraser Valley, British Columbia
Living in British Columbia is good but living in the Fraser Valley is even better. Find out why buyers are flocking to this agricultural hub.
Table of contents
- Where is Fraser Valley?
- What to expect from the Fraser Valley lifestyle
- Why purchase a home in Fraser Valley in 2022?
- Positive economic outlook
- Real estate trends
- Property types and typical home features
- New developments
- The communities of Fraser Valley
- What it’s like to live in Fraser Valley, BC
- How to buy a house in British Columbia if you’re a non-resident
- Work with a Fraser Valley real estate expert today
Where is Fraser Valley?
Located in southwestern British Columbia, the Fraser Valley is an agricultural hub and major source of produce in Canada. It starts north of Boston Bar and extends to the eastern edge of Metro Vancouver. The region is wedged between the Coast and Cascade mountains to the north of the United States border.
Fraser Valley spans 13,000 square kilometers and occupies 5% of the Fraser Basin. It encompasses several towns and cities, including:
- Township of Langley
- Harrison Hot Springs
- Harrison Mills
- Boston Bar
Fraser Valley also covers the areas north of Harrison Lake as well as areas on the northern and eastern edge of Pitt Lake.
What to expect from the Fraser Valley lifestyle
Living in British Columbia is an excellent choice for those who enjoy being outdoors. Fraser Valley, in particular, is known for its temperate climate, natural scenery, and abundance of open spaces, making it ideal for hiking and camping. Its many lakes and rivers are fit for boating, kayaking, and fishing. The Fraser River is known as the biggest producer of sockeye salmon in the world.
But what really draws investors to Fraser Valley is prime farmland, vineyards, and equestrian properties. The valley is a major producer of blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, grapes, and tomatoes. The majority of its produce is sourced from the Lower Mainland. In addition to fruit and vegetables, Fraser Valley is also a top producer of various forestry products. Its proximity to the Metro Vancouver market is favorable for those who want to grow crops or develop food products to sell.
Buyers should consider the valley if they’re looking to start a hobby farm or a fully-operational commercial farm. They should also explore the market for acreage for horse grazing and equestrian facilities.
Why purchase a home in Fraser Valley in 2022?
Positive economic outlook
As British Columbia continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic, the economy is set to expand by 3.9% in 2022 following 5% growth in 2021. Fraser Valley’s agricultural economy is quite robust, consistently ranking within the top three in Canada for a wide range of products. Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver account for roughly 62% of all provincial gross farm receipts for B.C. Within the province, Fraser Valley generated nearly $1 billion in total gross farm receipts in 2005 on just 1.6% of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) lands.
The valley is also moving towards a clean economy, one that has a solid foundation in sustainability and resource management. There are many economic opportunities in the sectors for green transportation, energy-efficient buildings, and renewable energy.
Real estate trends
In 2021, the Fraser Valley housing market broke its annual record for total property sales due to pent-up demand during the pandemic combined with historically low interest rates. The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) facilitated 27,692 sales in its Multiple Listing Service (MLS), up 39% from 19,926 sales in 2020 and up 15.5% from the previous record of 23,974 sales in 2016.
Single-family home sales increased by 31.8% year-over-year in 2021 compared to 2020 while townhome sales increased 33.7%. Apartments sales grew significantly by 68.9%.
Overall, FVREB averaged 5,200 homes sales per month in 2021.
The board also saw the second highest number of new listings on record with 35,629 new listings entering the market, up 12.4% from 2020. The record is second only to 2008 with 35,651 new listings. This means that inventory is robust, giving buyers plenty of listings to choose from.
In early 2022, home sales in Fraser Valley remained elevated along with a significant increase in sellers returning to the housing market. FVREB recorded 2,135 new listings in January 2022, up 67% from December 2021.
As the valley goes into spring, real estate experts foresee an easing of supply-demand dynamics in the area. While there is still a long way to go in replenishing the housing stock and bringing the market to balance, real estate professionals generally believe that the market is headed in the right direction if these housing trends continue.
Real estate experts are also urging first-time homebuyers to purchase property while interest rates are still favorable. The Bank of Canada raised the benchmark interest rate to 0.5% in March 2022, up 0.25 percentage points from the previous rate. Experts believe that the increase is only the first of many modest rate hikes to take effect this year. Living in British Columbia is within reach provided that they take advantage of lower rates while they still can.
Property types and typical home features
The Fraser Valley housing market offers a wide selection of single-family homes, townhomes, and condos. Farm properties, horse properties, mountain homes, and vacant land are also available. Buyers can choose from a good mix of new construction and older homes.
Most single-family homes are situated on wooded lots with manicured lawns and expansive driveways. Luxury properties often have lavish features like restaurant-grade kitchens, media rooms, and plenty of outdoor space. The most prevalent architectural styles are Contemporary, Traditional, Ranch, and Bungalow.
As B.C. continues to grow, buyers can expect new infrastructure as well as residential developments that will have a positive impact on their decision to buy a home in Fraser Valley:
- The Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster is a massive redevelopment project that will feature a 10-storey acute care building upon completion. The building will span 65,052 square meters and will have its own emergency department as well as provisions for 75 treatment spaces and 350 hospital beds. The project has created an estimated 5,800 direct and indirect new jobs in B.C.
- Construction on the new four-lane Pattullo Bridge on the Fraser River in Surrey resumed in June 2021. The project is scheduled for completion in 2024.
- Emco Developments has announced plans to build new condo towers along the northern side of South Fraser Way near Sevenoaks Shopping Center in Abbotsford. The first of these projects will be twin 18-storey towers with over 300 apartments. The company’s plans also include additional towers, some reaching up to 30 storeys, with first-rate commercial space and lifestyle amenities.
- Infinity Properties has received approval to build over 600 new townhomes and apartments as well as seven storefronts just north of Abbotsford’s historic downtown.
- Caliber Projects Ltd. is working on two mixed-use developments in Langley, namely Latimer Heights and Willoughby Town Centre. These complex multi-phase projects will feature condo towers and commercial space upon completion.
The communities of Fraser Valley
Abbotsford is located east of Vancouver and has a population of about 153,524 as of 2021. The community has strong roots in agriculture and harbors an excellent selection of farmland. However, the city is anything but bucolic, offering an array of urban amenities like shops and cafes. Popular annual events include the Abbotsford Tulip Festival and the Abbotsford International Air Show.
The Abbotsford housing market had the following benchmark home prices for February 2022:
- Detached house: $1,503,700
- Townhouse: $684,300
- Apartment: $494,500
Mission is the 6th largest district in B.C., spanning over 170 square kilometers east of Vancouver. With a population of 41,519 as of 2021, Mission is known for historic sites such as Westminster Abbey, a Benedictine monastery, and its traditional downtown core, which dates back to the 19th century. The district has many lakes, forests, floodplains, and mountains that lend themselves well to fishing, boating, hiking, and mountain biking.
Benchmark home prices for the Mission housing market in February 2022 are as follows:
- Detached house: $1,253,900
- Townhouse: $655,300
- Apartment: $482,300
Langley is known as “The Two Langleys”, namely Langley Township and Langley City. The Township of Langley encompasses 316 square kilometers south of the Fraser River and west of Abbotsford. The City of Langley spans 10 square kilometers in the central-west area of the Township with Surrey on the western border. Collectively, Langley has a modern and industrial vibe with robust manufacturing and retail sectors.
The housing market had the the following benchmark prices in February 2022:
- Detached house: $1,723,100
- Townhouse: $831,200
- Apartment: $580,600
Surrey is among the fastest-growing communities in B.C., having recorded over 588,000 residents in 2021 and is the third-largest in the province in terms of physical size at 316.4 square kilometers. The city has invested heavily in infrastructure to accommodate its growing population, from its downtown core of City Centre to the sprawling campus of Simon Fraser University.
Despite rapid development, the city has stayed true to its agricultural past, offering an excellent selection of farmland in Cloverdale. It is also home to outdoor attractions like Crescent Beach, Surrey Bend Regional Park, and the Cloverdale Rodeo & County Fair.
January 2022 benchmark prices include:
- Detached house: $1,674,100
- Townhouse: $836,600
- Apartment: $522,100
White Rock gets its name from the fishing pier that serves as the town’s landmark. Known for fresh seafood and some of the best fish and chips in B.C., White Rock is a coastal town spanning five square kilometers on the outskirts of Metro Vancouver. Over the last few years, this quiet seaside village has transformed into a vibrant suburban town with shopping malls and condo towers.
White Rock’s benchmark prices for February 2022 are:
- Detached house: $2,040,100
- Townhouse: $1,044,000
- Apartment: $665,600
What it’s like to live in Fraser Valley, B.C.
Living in British Columbia gives buyers access to the many attractions and activities in the Fraser Valley.
Things to do
- Wilderness fishing at the Fraser River —The Fraser River is the longest river in B.C. and is teeming with sockeye salmon, trout, and prehistoric sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish in North America.
- Animal watching at the Fraser River Safari —Catch a glimpse of bald eagles and other animals that call the Fraser Valley home while going on a jet boat tour of the Fraser River.
- Stargazing at McDonald Park — Also called Dark Sky Park, this dark sky preserve near Abbotsford is pitch black at night and is ideal for those who want to get a glimpse of the Milky Way in the evening sky.
- Getting pampered at Harrison Hot Springs Resort —The resort provides access to five mineral hot springs, a marina, and modern amenities to give guests the ultimate resort experience.
Fraser Valley public schools served over 64,000 students in the 2020/21 school year. There are five public school districts within Fraser Valley, namely:
- Abbotsford School District
- Chilliwack School District
- Fraser Cascade School District
- Langley School District
- Mission School District
There are also nine independent schools that operate in Fraser Valley:
- Highroad Academy
- Southpointe Academy
- MEI Schools
- Catholic Independent Schools of Vancouver Archdiocese
- Global Montessori School
- Langley Christian School
- Meadowridge School
- Unity Christian School
- Traditional Learning Academy Online
How to buy a house in British Columbia if you’re a non-resident
There are no restrictions on property ownership for non-residents in B.C., which is what makes it such an attractive prospect for international buyers. Under Canadian law, non-residents are individuals who only stay in Canada for six months or less each year.
- Non-resident buyers must have a bank account in Canada. They will be required to deposit funds into a Canadian bank account through which they can set up monthly payments on strata fees or settle their annual tax bills.
- They must stipulate in writing that their real estate transactions are clear and expressly mentioned in the appropriate books of records.
- They must shoulder the Foreign Buyers Property Transfer Tax, which amounts to 20% of the purchase price of the home.
- Non-residents who plan to rent out their property must pay rental income tax.
When securing financing for a home, non-residents must present the following documents to a Canadian lender:
When securing financing for a home, non-residents must present the following documents to a Canadian lender:
- Completed application form
- Canadian bank account information
- Banker’s reference from a financial agency
- ID photos (2 copies)
- Real estate appraisal
- Individual net worth statement
- Confirmation via the brokerage’s three-month history, or
- Bank statements amounting to 35% of the down payment from a non-borrowed source
Moving to B.C.
Non-resident buyers can contact a settling agency in B.C. ahead of their arrival. A settling agency can offer resources for support services in various languages. If they are moving with a pet, or several pets, to B.C., they must present a Rabies Certificate written in either English or French. The certificate must be issued by a licensed veterinarian, specify the breed, weight, and color of the animal, and indicate how long its immunity will last.
Work with a Fraser Valley real estate expert today
If you want to experience living in British Columbia, let me, Don Munro, help you find the perfect property in the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver. Contact me at 604.817.7338 or send an email to BotSoldMunro(at)gmail(dotted)com604.817.7338 to get started. I’ve been selling real estate for more than 35 years. Get value for your money and get a good return on your investment when you work with me today.