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Ups and Downs in the World of Housing

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



Ask your realtor about oil prices

Would everyone who predicted interest rates would rise please stand up and identify yourselves and say sorry to everyone you meet today.  We shouldn’t fret though, we’ll be right one of these days….just not today.  The Bank of Canada’s drop in their trend setting rate to 0.75 was a surprise to many but it just goes to show how unpredictable things are out there.   

After listening to buyers and sellers about where the Kelowna market is going the talk always involves a discussion about the price of oil these days.  I don’t need to explain why with so many people here linked to Alberta’s economy but my unscientific observation is whether you’re an optimist or pessimist largely depends on how old you are.  The older people I speak with just shrug it off quickly and talk about the cyclical nature of oil prices while younger people who have never been through a downturn are nervous.  We will most certainly see a drop off of buyers buying second houses here from people who are dependent on a strong Alberta economy but will see an increase from the over 50 crowd who’ve played their financial cards right and just don’t need to endure another downturn.   And there’s lots of those people in the 50-65 year cohort who may not want to return to Northern Ontario or Manitoba.  Like so many others before them, many will choose the Okanagan to settle down and retire.  (I hope).

It is too early in the  year to dissect sales (76 residential/52 strata) so let’s look at inventory.  1,118 residential homes for sale.  Analyzing this further, there are….

  • 70 priced under $300,000
  • 320 $300,000 to $500,000
  • 390 $500,000 to $800,000
  • 340 over $800,000

Going deeper, 154 homes are vacant, 46 on leased land, 287 have suites and 78 are lakefront.  For those who always ask, there are only 33 foreclosures for sale right now. 

To summarize, the housing market continues to be balanced with a stable and predictable supply of homes for just about every price point.  Contact me for my open house schedule and drop in and say hi if you’re out and about this weekend.

 

To view Kelowna homes for sale go to http://www.OkanaganBC.com or call Andrew Smith directly at 250-979-8066.

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

Over 22 years experience helping people achieve their dream of home ownership!



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Kelowna average house price

Everyone in Kelowna has welcomed the New Year with a body blow of a snow storm. Even the Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario ex-pats living here weren’t poo-pooing our snowstorm as we all shoveled, shoveled and shoveled our way out. Kids missed school, neighbours helped neighbours and strangers helped strangers get through it and then we all watched Canada win a gold medal hockey game. Nice way to start the year.

Housing summary. If you’ve been reading, the year end numbers won’t be a surprise. We jumped from 2,400 residential sales in 2013 to 2,800 last year. The Kelowna average sale price jumped from $491,000 to $542,000 in a year. Apartment sales jumped to 1,028 solds last year from 773 in 2013 while prices jumped from $233,000 to $243,000. Not a huge jump but many were predicting a downward correction because of an oversupply of inventory so the results are eye opening.

The statistic that stands out now that the dust has settled is the 150 homes that sold last year over $1 million. I normally don’t write about that segment of the market but it’s up from 100 sold in 2013. A 50% increase! If nothing else, this skews the overall averages up and I don’t imagine that kind of momentum can sustain itself. Look for that number (150) to decrease this year as our next door neighbours to the east might be a little more hesitant investing in Kelowna’s high end housing market.

As for the rest of us, things are looking pretty good. We live in a sought after blue chip community that more and more people are learning about and we’re quite proud of. We have an ongoing demand for housing with a reasonable supply of available homes in an area where people want to relocate. If you’re looking for something to worry about, spend less time fretting over the price of oil and more time worrying about interest rate increases. People have been predicting doom and gloom for the Kelowna housing market since Western Star Trucks left town in 2002 when you could buy a reasonably nice home for $160,000.

To find out your House Value go to www.GetHouseValues.ca

 

For a FREE List of All Homes for sale click here make clickable link (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!

Twitter @smithap01

All the best in 2015 and thanks for reading.

Andy Smith



Read more Ups and Downs in the World of Housing articles




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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