Monday, April 27th9.7°C
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Ups and Downs in the World of Housing

Real Estate update

Everything is pretty much balanced, normal and going as expected so far this year.  With the weather warming up it’s safe to say we all survived another winter and housing numbers are where most predicted.  There are currently 1,500 residential freehold homes for sale including 1,058 residential detached.  This is a reasonable number for Kelowna considering our population base but broken down it’s clear it isn’t an easy town to buy a house. 

Residential Detached Freehold

                      

PRICE RANGE # OF HOMES
   
Under $400,000 151
$400,000 to $600,000 397
$600,000 to $800,000 252
Over $800,000 258

It’s tough to buy a house here for two reasons.  The first is obvious looking at those numbers…nearly half of the available homes are over $600,000 which take a sizeable number of buyers out of the market and secondly, there’s a lot of competition for homes priced where most of us can afford. Is this good?   Whether or not you think this is good depends on if and when you bought your home and if you’re planning on up or downsizing.  Having a lot of equity in your home makes things easier but it’s certainly tough on first time buyers trying to negotiate mortgages.

There have been 710 residential sales so far this year including 266 in March.  We’re entering the busiest time of the year for real estate and as long as mortgage rates stay reasonably low it’s looking like another solid year in the Kelowna Real Estate Market.

The Kelowna condominium apartment market is chugging along nicely with 474 units for sale right now.  These come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges and condo growth over the past fifteen years can be attributed to the high cost of residential homes and affluent out of town buyer.  This market appears to be growing as we speak in part because more and more Western Canadians who chose Arizona over Kelowna are deciding that Yuma just isn’t as great as all the brochures said it was and we’re getting them back.  Of the 474 condos for sale, 130 are tenanted and another 115 are vacant.   We generated 88 condo sales in March making this segment of the market as strong as it’s been in a while.

 

For a complete list of homes and condos in Kelowna check out www.okanaganbc.com

Or, call Andrew Smith directly at 250-979-8066. Over 22 years experience helping people achieve their dream of home ownership!



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Real estate market review

With the first quarter over and done with it’s time to peek out under our blankets and see what’s going on in our real estate market.  First off, let’s look at what’s for sale.  People usually have a pretty good idea when the market is healthy or not, just by driving around town and seeing the ratio of SOLD signs compared to For Sale signs.  “How come there are so many condos for sale in this building?” is really one of the toughest questions to answer but these days things are humming along nicely.  There are 1,493 residential homes for sale in all with price ranges catering to all budgets.  Here’s a breakdown….

Price Range # of Homes for Sale
   
$250,000 to $400,000 280
$400,000 to $500,000 264
$500,000 to $600,000 226
$600,000 to $800,000 295
$800,000 to $1.2 million 187
$1.2 million and up 252

Forty-six of these homes are in foreclosure, 54 are on leasehold land, 349 have suites and 99 are on lakefront.  All in all, a pretty good reasonable number of homes in every price bracket.   I think we would all like to see more homes priced under $400,000 for people who are starting out but lifetime low mortgage rates are absorbing some of the sticker shock when people see what a $300,000 home gets you in Kelowna. 

To sum up the Kelowna real estate market in a sentence: unit sales up a lot…..prices slightly down.  With the first quarter done, there were 560 residential sales over the first three months at an average sale price of $520,000 compared to the first quarter of 2014 when there were 427 homes sold at $544,000.  Keep in mind that the early months are generally locals buying from locals so I wouldn’t read too much into either number at this point. 



Kelowna Condo 101

A few weeks after my wife and I bought our townhouse on Lequime Road my son and I were goofing around playing road hockey in our driveway with a tennis ball and makeshift net using the garage door as a backstop.  This scene is common and goes on in driveways all over Canada and has since the invention of the tennis ball.  The next day there was a note from our strata president telling me there was a complaint because the white garage doors were getting too dirty from the tennis balls and we had to stop.  I just sort of assumed that it was a Charter right of all Canadians that you could play road hockey against your garage door regardless what a strata board said.  I spend my days trying to convince others that I’m a condominium expert and I’ve read more minutes, bylaws and rules from many strata complexes but I had never been on the receiving end of one of those letters where others were able to govern my behavior.   As a new strata owner my first reaction was that we might have made a big mistake moving from a house but fast forward seven years, things have worked out well and the fourteen families in our little corner of the world get along well.  The issues we deal with are minor and usually involve parking but we always find a solution without much fuss.

The fact is that strata living has a lot of benefits but it also has pitfalls.  It isn’t for everyone.  We moved from a hundred year old heritage house on Christleton where we spent every weekend fixing something and spending more than we bargained for on almost everything.  Our heating and air conditioning bills were sky high because of older insulation and pipes sometimes froze during the winter.  We loved it, but we were always sinking money into it.  With a newer townhouse there’s nothing that really needs fixing, we have no yard work to do and the larger issues like roofs are dealt with as a group.  I think it’s better but it certainly takes getting used to.

Traditionally strata properties were marketed to the first time buyer crowd who couldn’t afford to get into the market and the last time buyer crowd downsizing who didn’t want the responsibilities of a detached house.  This has certainly changed over the years especially in Kelowna with many out-of-towners buying  a condo as a second residence, using it as a rental or place stay when they visit. Regardless of what age you are, if you’re considering buying a condo it’s really important to know what you’re getting into.  Age, pet and rental restrictions are the first thing you need to know about.  If you have a pet, or if you think you might want a pet, it’s important to know what’s allowed and what isn’t.  Same for renting.  Same for parking.  Same for a lot of other things.  I have a client who moved to Meadowbrook apartments on Enterprise after retiring here from Whitehorse a few years ago.  He was a card player looking for a quiet lifestyle and wanted to join a good bridge club.  This is fairly typical and every realtor has come across this type of buyer….just substitute bridge player for quilter, bowler, square dancer,  etc.  This particular buyer also wanted a private deck on the top floor where he could smoke cigarettes in peace and quiet.  Again, not uncommon and let’s not judge anyone here.  Imagine his horror though, two years later, when his strata wanted to pass a bylaw prohibiting smoking everywhere.  Luckily for him the resolution failed because he would have moved out.

Most strata board people I’ve come across are run by reasonable people who know what they’re doing and are willing to volunteer their time freely answering my questions and giving forthcoming information on their little micro communities.  They understand how to read financial statements and are aware of the issues in their building.  I’ll even go further and say that most people who live in strata titled properties are generally happy home owners who like condo living.  

If you are thinking of buying into a condo you really do need to take the time to read all the minutes of the strata board and past annual general meetings to familiarize yourself to the culture.  Everyone hears about the horror stories about a crazy person in a building causing trouble for other owners but these people are few and far between.  Reading strata minutes and bylaws might take a while but I promise you will be glad you did.  If reading dry documents isn’t your cup of tea any Realtor or real estate lawyer will read and explain things to you and you will be able to make an informed decision.

For a complete list of condos and townhomes in Kelowna check out www.condosofkelowna.ca

Or call Andrew Smith directly at 250-979-8066. Over 22 years experience helping people achieve their dream of home ownership!

 



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Calgary vs Kelowna Real Estate

After a full month of Kelowna real estate data safely tucked away in the books it’s time we start to look for any emerging trends.  So far, I don’t see any change from last year but it’s still a winter market and we’re dealing mostly with locals buying from locals.  It feels like change is coming though…..but doesn’t it always?

 

Residential

Sales January 2014                   116

Sales January 2015                   101

Meaningless.  Fifteen less homes sold in any given month is a rounding error possibly explained by a snowstorm or two, one less business day in the month or even a few realtors handing paperwork in late.

 

Average residential sale price

January 2014          $474,000

January 2015          $527,000

Once again, meaningless.  Prices rose throughout 2014 and this is probably a continuation of last year’s trend.  100 sales isn’t enough of a sample size to get excited or discouraged about house values.  Let’s wait until March before celebrating or biting our nails.

 

Condominiums (apartments)

Similar story with an even smaller sample size.  Prices were $226,000 last month which is up from $210,000 January 2014.  There were four more apartments selling last month (38) compared to January 2014 (34). 

 

When we open up our newspapers there’s good news and bad.  Let’s start with the good.  The RBC posted rate for a three year closed mortgage is 3.84% and just about any mortgage broker can better that number.  Ask any old person if this is good for the housing market.  At my first office meeting on my first day in real estate there was genuine excitement in the air because the posted rate for a 5 year closed mortgage was 7.25%.

Let’s end with the bad.  It’s become pretty clear that there’s a correlation between commodity prices and Alberta’s various real estate markets.  Also pretty clear that Alberta buyers play a significant role in Kelowna’s housing market so recent numbers released from the Calgary real estate board have to give a lot of us pause after reading that listings were up 40% and unit sales down 35% in January.  Prices are steady though.  These aren’t meaningless statistics cavalierly explained away by a couple of school snow days like I did.  Certain Kelowna neighbourhoods that Albertans find attractive just might be in for a bit of a rough patch.  Chris Audette, a Royal LePage Realtor in Calgary (www.Calgary-real-estate.com) summed up Calgary’s current market.

“The market here has definitely turned to a buyers choice overall, while some pockets (like townhomes) remain relatively un-phased by the change. Buyers looking to upgrade are well advised to take advantage of the new market and capitalize on the overall home selling and buying strategy to make sense, while folks looking to sell and buy cheaper may be better off to wait and flippers may really want to examine their risk tolerance.” 

Summing up, if you’re a first time Kelowna buyer reading this and are on the fence about finally jumping into the housing market stop taking advice from anyone telling you not to and lock into a lifetime low long term rate and take the plunge.  You’ll be telling your grandchildren about the rate you negotiated and they probably won’t believe you.  If you’re a Kelowna seller in a high end, high priced home you might want to consider getting ahead of what might be coming and think about a price that’s attractive to the marketplace today, like right now, instead of waiting until the Spring market.

To view Kelowna homes for sale go to http://www.okanaganbc.com/listings-search/ or call Andrew Smith directly at 250-979-8066. Over 22 years experience helping people achieve their dream of home ownership!

Follow me on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+OkanaganbcKelownaRealEstate/posts



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About the Author

Andrew Smith has been helping people buy and sell Real Estate with Royal LePage since 1993. He moved to Kelowna from Vancouver with his wife Jo Ann and two children. He chose Kelowna for the lifestyle and to raise his family.

Andrew was was also Best Selling Author on Amazon for House Virgins- How To Buy A House The Right Way The First Time.

 

"I help growing families smoothly transition to a larger home by making the finding, buying, and selling process easy."

 

You can contact Andrew by email:  [email protected]

Visit his website here:  http://www.okanaganbc.com/

Follow Andrew on Twitter:  @smithap01

 




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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