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Houses Under BC Hydro Lines Sell Faster Than Expected

BC Hydro has managed to sell almost its entire inventory of homes on the Tsawwassen right-of-way.

As of this week, the Crown corporation has sold 102 of the 104 houses that first hit the market in September of 2009.

Marketing the properties as Tsawwassen Heights, BC Hydro anticipated it would take three years to sell all the homes, although it has taken less than two.

The Crown corporation purchased the homes in a buyout program from residents who didn’t want to live under recently upgraded higher voltage power lines.

Selling the homes through RE/MAX, listing no more than a couple of dozen at a time, BC Hydro, as of last September, was already well ahead of schedule, with 50 homes having been sold or under sales contract.

There had been an initial rush of interest when the homes first hit the market, likely from those thinking they could grab a bargain, but only a handful sold over the first few weeks. However, sales had been steadily occurring in subsequent months and the inventory had been reduced.

As to why there was a rush in recent months, Jake Moldowan, the realtor in charge of the sales, explained that while buyers had come from all over the Lower Mainland, many recently arrived from Richmond.

While the real estate market in the rest of the region has been relatively stable, Richmond and the west side of Vancouver have turned extremely hot with a large influx of motivated buyers from China.

A number of homeowners who sold in Richmond then bought in Tsawwassen Heights, attracted to the community and the prospect of a house on a large lot, said Moldowan.

“They felt they were a good, solid home. They were priced at market and some of the homes moved quite quickly while some of the homes, it took three or four or five months to sell. It depended on getting the right buyer at the right time,” said Moldowan, former president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“All of a sudden we had this influx and sold a number of homes to Richmond people who cashed out with these mainland China buyers. They came out over a really short window and bought one of our homes.”

Moldowan said those buying the Tsawwassen properties weighed the hydro right-of-way against the many benefits.

The homes were priced according to a formula that included a market analysis of other homes in the area.

“It’s no different than buying on a busy street. You’re going to make an adjustment for a busy street, you’re going to make an adjustment for a right-of-way,” he said.

Moldowan, noting only a small number of the houses were sold to investors, said another positive for the sales effort was a wide variety of homes in different styles, sizes and prices.

Some needed updating while others were fully updated.

Spokesperson Thoren Hudyma said BC Hydro is still on pace to lose an estimated $21 million on the buyout and resale program.

Hudyma said the fact the homes sold sooner than expected won’t impact the projected loss.

BC Hydro offered an energy efficient incentive program for 99 of the homes.

A number of homeowners who live next to the power lines but whose property lines end at the right-of way weren’t included in the buyout program.

Calling themselves the Forgotten 58, they lobbied to be included but, so far, haven’t been successful.

The upgraded lines, which stretch across South Delta from East Ladner to Fred Gingell Park on English Bluff Road in Tsawwassen, deliver power to Vancouver Island.

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