Locals bought most of 2010's real estate

Single females accounted for 16 per cent of the real estate transactions in 2010 while their male counterparts bought up 11 per cent of the overall inventory, according to an analysis of last year's sales by the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board.

The data also revealed that 70 per cent of all buyers in the market were from Greater Victoria and 25 per cent of the total were first-time buyers.

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"The majority of buyers are people moving up or down in the market to meet their changing needs," said board president Dennis Fimrite, adding he found it encouraging to see a quarter of the buyers were acquiring their first homes. "Despite concerns over affordability, we are pleased to see that many individuals and families are able to make the move to home ownership. This shows confidence in the market and a commitment to making this area their home."

A total of 6,546 single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses were sold through the Victoria board last year -- a 19 per cent decline from the 8,096 transactions in 2009. The total value of the property sold through the board's Multiple Listing Service decreased by 14 per cent in 2010 to $3.24 billion from $3.775 billion in 2009.

Prices were up. Last year, the average for a single-family house was $629,925, rising by 8.46 per cent from $580,748 in 2009.

Of the total sales last year, only eight per cent involved new homes.

The survey of last year's sales also showed 14 per cent of buyers were retired. Despite continued speculation that Albertans and Americans remain big buyers here, only 15 per cent of sales were from outside B.C. and only three per cent were from outside Canada.

More than 60 per cent of overall sales occurred in the core municipalities while 19 per cent bought on the West Shore and 11 per cent bought places on the Saanich Peninsula.

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DISCOVERY BOARD

Peter B. Lloyd has been re-elected chairman of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney. Lloyd is a former chairman of Camosun College and currently a lay bencher at the Law Society of B.C. and planning consultant. Other board members for the non-profit tourism attraction and educational aquarium include vice-chair Nancy Barbour, a senior manager at Van Isle Marina; treasurer Richard Flader, partner at Flader Hale Hughesman Accountants; and secretary Mike Waldin, a Sidney lawyer who practises marine law. Directors include Parklands Secondary teacher Patty Golumbia; engineer and construction company owner John Knappett; bookseller Clive Tanner; CMA Peter Tough; tourism and marketing specialist Dale Ryan; and Verena Tunnicliffe, a University of Victoria professor and Canada Research Chair in Deep Oceans. The Discovery Centre eclipsed the 200,000 visitor mark earlier this month.

New home for deaf

The Island Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre hopes its new downtown offices will increase awareness of hearing loss in society and the services the agency provides. The centre moved from the Jubilee area near Fort and Pandora to 100-754 Broad St. and is having an open house on Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. Call 250-592-8144.

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TENDER TIME

Saanich is replacing the Colquitz and Gorgeview Sewage Lift Stations and has issued a tender for engineering services to provide conceptual design options. Also included in the works is the replacement of sewer collection system along Gorge Road. The tender closes Feb. 3 ... A 10,000-square-foot, $7-million addition to the third floor of the Cancer Clinic, 2410 Lee Ave., is moving ahead. Stantec Architecture has completed working drawings and a tender call for general contractor is anticipated by month's end ... Work is expected to start next month on the bare lot at 3959 Shelbourne St., near McKenzie Ave., and across from University Heights Shopping Centre. Farmer Construction was low bidder as general contractor for the four-storey office building with possible restaurant and pub going on the ground floor. Praxis Architects have been leading the $6-million project. There's more information on local projects at YellowSheet.ca or call 250-480-123.

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CHARMLEY PRESIDENT

Kris Charmley, senior vice-president and branch manager of AON Reed Stenhouse, is the new president of the Boy & Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria, succeeding Ben Anderson. Mike Sidhu of Island Savings moves up to first vice-president while chartered accountant Robert N. Moysey remains as treasurer and Todd Walsh, regional district manager for Investors Group Metro, was appointed secretary. The remaining board members are Gerry Bunting, Cheryl d'Estrubé, Bob Harman, Elena Kanigan, Violaine Mitchell, Jamie Pearce, Shannon Russell, Bill Snowdon, Terry Spence and Hillary Wheeler.

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BROOKS IS SMOKEN

John E. Brooks has joined Smoken Bones Cookshack as chef. Brooks was executive sous chef at the Royal Colwood Golf Club and previously worked at Camilles and the Canoe Club. Smoken Bones owner Ken Hueston will launch an updated menu on Feb. 4 at his popular Langford restaurant that will include "flat-top burgers the way they were supposed to be" and a Big Bubba platter that will challenge diners to finish the massive sampling within an hour. Smoken Bones is at 101-721 Station Ave. Call 250-391-6328.

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JAMES JOINS GUNDY

Kerry James has been appointed associate investment adviser with Rod Mahrt's Investment Group at CIBC Wood Gundy Victoria. James spent the previous 20 years with CIBC Wood Gundy on London, Ont. She can be reached at 250-361-2207.

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ELKINGTON LISTS

Two Victoria real estate agents and another from Duncan are combining to sell the initial phases of the Elkington Forest Project, a green housing development on 400 hectares, located 12 kilometres south of Shawnigan Lake. Linda Geddes, managing broker of Macdonald's Realty in Victoria, and Scott Garman will join Cathie Jeffrey of Duncan's Re/Max office in marketing the first phase of 18 homes. Elkington is being developed by Doug Makaroff. About half of the land base will be left as forest with residential clusters.

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NEW DRAGONS

Mark Grey-Dreaper, president of Victoria-based XPS Group, has taken over as chairman of the Victoria Dragonboat Festival. He has been on the board for four years, most recently as treasurer, and succeeds Daniela Cubelic, owner of Silk Road Tea, in the top post for the 17th annual event in the Inner Harbour this August. Joining him on the board are local Realtor Tony Joe, as vice-chair; treasurer Reann Sousa, a CA with Norgaard Neale Camden Ltd.; and secretary Mark Mawhinney, a longtime Victoria businessman and consultant. Cubelic remains as past vice-chair.

UVic Prof honoured

Hamar Foster, a professor of law at the University of Victoria since 1978, has been appointed Queen's Counsel, a honour presented to members of the legal profession for exceptional contributions to law. Foster has taught courses ranging from property law to the historical foundations of aboriginal title and government and has authored more than 50 scholarly articles on the legal history of B.C. and Canada, according to UVic's Ring newspaper ... In other news, UVic's five academic departments have new acting chairs, each serving until June 30 -- Frank Van Vegel, chemistry; Fayez Gebali, electrical and computer engineering; Henning Struchtrup, mechanical engineering; Michael Masson, psychology; and Christine St. Peter, women's studies. Reeta Tremblay took over as vice-president academic and provost on Jan. 1.

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STUDENTS SIZZLE

Investment companies should take note of these future hires. A team from Mount Douglas Secondary calling themselves the Bank Boys emerged overall winners of the Junior Achievement Online Stock Challenge, where more than 600 teams from across Western Canada picked and tracked stocks over six weeks during November and December. The portfolio of Sina Bank, Sun-Chan Kim and Jun Hwan Choi was rated the most valuable at the close of trading Dec. 16. Their most successful stock was biopharma Orex. The stock trades on the Nasdaq and doubled from $5 to more than $10. The Bank Boys earned the top prize of $300 -- and a great addition to their resumés ... Meanwhile, a team from Lambrick Park Secondary finished first overall in Junior Achievement's Titan Marketplace competition. Michael Chambers, Jason Basi, Terry Lee, Akshay Rai, Brendan Somers and Lucas Delabough topped 20 other teams from around the province in the face-paced race that had the students play the roles of high-tech executives bringing a product to market. Teams worked through 18 quarters of business, determining pricing, production levels and dollars spent on R&D, capital investment and marketing. The Mount Doug team of Paul Roth, Sharon Lam, Leira Lowlind and Hugo Wong finished third.

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MAGNOLIA MAGIC

The Magnolia Hotel and Spa in downtown Victoria made the top 10 list of Best Luxury Hotels in Canada by TripAdvisor's 2011 Traveler's Choice Awards. In fact, it was a B.C. wash with eight of the 10 choices from this province. Sonora Resort was the No. 1 pick, followed by the L'Hermitage Hotel, Shangri-La, Wedgewood Hotel, Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, Fairmont Pacific Rim and Nita Lake Lodge ... The Fairmont Empress Hotel has been voted one of the best places to stay in the world by readers of Condé Naste Traveler. It is the seventh consecutive year the Empress has been included on the magazine's prestigious Gold List.

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NASH INKS NEW DEAL

NBA star Steve Nash added to his health-conscious business empire last week by signing on as equity partner with Montreal-based Liquid Nutrition Group Inc. The company produces smoothies, health foods and vitamins for a string of branded stores in Montreal and has plans to expand retail outlets into 35 cities in Canada and the U.S. over the next three years. No financials were released. Last year, the Victoria-raised Nash -- playing in the twilight of a hall-of-fame career -- acquired the Fitness World chain and in 2008 was part of a partnership that brought Major League Soccer to Vancouver. Nash signed a two-year extension with the Phoenix Suns last year for $22 million. In 2008, Forbes estimated Nash's endorsement earnings at $3 million a year, although that has risen with his latest deal with Chinese shoe giant Luyou.

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PUMPING IRON

Prairie Coast Equipment in Duncan, the Island's largest John Deere green-line dealer for tractors and lawn and garden equipment, has added fitness equipment to its retail mix. The dealership has partnered with Flaman Fitness Sales, part of the Flaman Group of Companies founded in Saskatchewan that manufactures everything from grain bins and farm implements to security systems and cottage docks. Flaman's fitness lines include brands like Bowflex, Nautilus, Progression and FreeMotion.

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SWEET FUNDRAISER

That sheet-of-plywood-sized Nanaimo Bar unveiled by Thrifty Foods during the opening of its Brooks Landing location in December helpd to raise $10,000 for the Coast Salish Gathering Place at Vancouver Island University campus. Thrifty sold bars at its three stores over a two-week period.

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