Whether it's the construction of new homes or the selling of homes - the housing market in the Central Okanagan is in good shape right now.
Figures released for August show housing starts in the Kelowna Census Metropolitan area (Peachland to Oyama) are similar to those posted in July.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, housing starts in August sat at 1,213 units compared with 1,276 in July.
The trend is a six month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted rates of housing starts.
"The trend in housing starts for both single detached and multiples was relatively unchanged in August reflecting stable demand for new homes," says Sarena Teakles, CMHC Senior Market Analyst.
"This level of new home construction is consistent with Kelowna's balanced resale market and in line with CMHC's outlook for the year."
The stand alone seasonally adjusted annual rate was 973 in August, down slightly from the 1,065 units the month previous.
While new home starts are showing some strength, sales across the board are up on the Central Okanagan.
Figures released by the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board shows a 23 per cent increase in sales activity of all MLS® property types over August of 2013.
Conditions in the Central Okanagan are now in sellers’ market territory with more demand than supply in some areas – especially in homes priced below $400,000 where inventory is short – and a buyers’ market in the higher price category.
New listings have fallen during five of the last six months with total inventory in the Board area down 11% compared to August 2013, resulting in levels similar to those last seen in 2008 when active listings were particularly tight.
“The selection of entry level home choices has been significantly reduced with the drop in listings, so buyers are viewing properties in a higher price range to find better selection. With strong prices, high demand and low inventory, if you are looking to sell, now is the time to do it before winter sets in,” says OMREB President, Darcy Griffiths.
“However, there are still tremendous opportunities for buyers to get into the market with the price of single family homes fairly stable in most areas, and mortgage rates still at historic lows.”
Real estate sales activity in the Okanagan was up 30 per cent last month, making it the strongest July on record since 1980.
Just under 1,000 units of all property types changed hands from Peachland to Revelstoke, compared with 715 units in 2013.
“Month-over-month, the Okanagan-Shuswap housing market continues to remain strong as we make steady strides toward recovery,” says Darcy Griffiths, President of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board.
“Renewed consumer confidence has boosted demand as buyers return to mid and higher-end homes, and sellers who had given up are trying again with more success.”
She says the north and central regions of the Okanagan are moving into a sellers’ market, with more demand than supply in some areas – although that is not true in the Shuswap.
New listings across the board are also up almost 6 per cent compared to last July, while inventory (or active listings) was down 11 per cent.
The north led the way last month with a 56 per cent improvement in overall sales; that compared to 24 per cent in the Central Okanagan and 23 per cent in the Shuswap. The northern region saw a particularly noteworthy increase in the number of townhouse sales (95 per cent) and apartment sales (63 per cent).
“With strong prices, high demand and low inventory, there is more opportunity for sellers who wish to list and take advantage of the window of opportunity to sell before winter sets in,” says Griffiths.
“On the other hand, with the price of single family homes fairly stable in most areas, and mortgage rates remaining at historic lows, there are tremendous opportunities for buyers to get into the market before the possibility of rates rising as the economy and employment further improve going into 2015.”
Things are looking up at the Copper Sky condo development in West Kelowna.
They have a brand new pool, deck, and entranceway as part of the rebuilding of amenities following some remediation work that began in 2012.
Residents at the time were not happy, saying it did not appear that builders did a good enough job during the initial build.
The property had already gone into receivership in 2010 and the condos were eventually turned over to KPMG. The value priced homes were sold until the spring of 2012, but that’s when the big problems were discovered.
Cracks began to show up on the pool deck, and along a retaining wall, which forced a massive rebuild of some parts of the development.
Copper Sky then found itself with more negative press last year during reconstruction, when a contractor hit a gas line that leaked fumes for almost an hour and forced the evacuation of the entire property.
But according to those in the know at Copper Sky, things are flourishing once again with a brand new pool, large deck, year-round hot tub and tennis courts overlooking Okanagan Lake.
Long time resident Rod Yule says there had been a lot of dust, noise and eyesores throughout the tough times, but that is all over with now and he has no complaints.
“For a while there it was hard to stay optimistic, because we didn’t know through the receivership what was going to happen.”
He thought about selling when times were tough. But due to dropping prices and the loss of appeal following media coverage of the developments problems, he decided to ride it out.
“When I saw how well they were doing everything -- a lot more attention to detail -- and they did a lot better job this go around, so there was more room for enthusiasm,” he says.
“Its exactly what it was supposed to be in the beginning. I won’t lie, it was tough going through that; the deconstruction and the reconstruction, and we didn’t really know at that point where we were going to end up.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Helen Katnich, who also chose not to sell her unit, and instead bought another.
“Things were changed on the pool deck for the better, but it was a long haul. And I certainly would not have wanted to be one of the first owners, that’s for sure, because it has been a long haul for them,” she says.
“There were some disappointing times when we thought the pool would have been finished earlier, but all in all, I knew there was a lot of negativity, but I knew one day it would be fixed and it would be a great place.”
Things are looking so good at Copper Sky that management now says there is potential for more buildings in the development.
CENTURY 21 Assurance Realty Ltd. is pleased to announce the local managing broker, Myrna Park, has purchased both the business and its location at 251 Harvey Avenue.
Myrna began in real estate in 1983 and bought her first Century 21 franchise in Northern Alberta in 1985 and has been involved in the Real Estate business in one form or another since that time.
Myrna completed the deal over the past three weeks while she was in Edmonton donating a kidney to her brother. She commented that sometimes the timing of opportunities cannot be controlled and one must juggle things in order to get them done.
The operation was a success for both her and her brother and Myrna is now home and overseeing the office once again.
“I could never have done this if it wasn’t for the fact we have such good people on the administration, marketing and sales side," she said.
Myrna continued a unique real estate philosophy started by Ken and Grant Wiebe when they began the business. Agents find the innovative “Vision 25” program allows them to be highly productive and focus on clients, while the office supports them with leading edge marketing and technology. Her intention is to continue down that path and introduce even more cutting edge ideas into the business with more exciting news to be released very shortly.
Myrna invites anyone thinking of a career in real estate or wanting to change systems so they can be more productive, stop by and visit the collaborative Club 21 for a coffee and a chat to see if they would fit into our model.
Under Myrna’s direction, CENTURY 21 Assurance is not looking to become one of the larger firms in the area but limit the office to a manageable number of serious, friendly and productive agents.
Over the past few years despite their small size, CENTURY 21 Assurance Realty Ltd. is the third largest fund-raiser for Easter Seals in Canada, supporting Camp Winfield locally.
For more information, Myrna Park can be reached in the office at 250-869-0101 or on her cell at 250-861-9303.
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board reported June sales activity of all MLS® property types was up 28% compared to the same month in 2013 – posting the strongest unit sales for June since 2007.
“After six months of steady growth in sales, the Okanagan-Shuswap housing market is experiencing a rebound in consumer demand and has moved firmly into balanced conditions,” says Darcy Griffiths, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the North Okanagan.
“We are seeing more listings than in 2013, but not enough to keep up with the demand in some segments as sales have increased more than inventory. So if you are looking to sell, now is the time to do it. With the drop in active listings, the selection of entry level home choices has been significantly reduced, and some buyers are viewing properties in a higher price range to find better inventory.”
The Shuswap leads the way this month with a 46% improvement in overall sales over June 2013, compared to 28% in the North Okanagan, and 26% in the Central Okanagan.
The Shuswap also saw a 43% rise in single family residential sales, compared to 27% in the North Zone, and 14% in the Central Zone where there was an 81% improvement in townhouse sales and 49% in condo sales due to higher inventory and a wider selection in those property types.
“While the Shuswap has seen a significant jump in sales during the past few months compared to 2013 when activity was relatively slow, the Zone continues to remain in buyers’ market territory with more supply than demand,” Griffiths notes. “Conditions in the North and Central Okanagan are now balanced and on the margin of a seller’s market with more demand than supply in some areas.”
Despite increased purchases at the higher price ranges during May and June, the price of single family homes has remained fairly stable for several months now with relatively modest gains seen in some locations.
“The competition for buyers can still be a challenge for sellers if their properties are not priced well in a balanced market,” Griffiths warns. “For a successful sale, you must be realistic about the market value of your home, set an attractive list price right out of the gate, and be willing to negotiate for the best offer. Market conscious and competitive home sellers are sharpening their pencils and seeing results.”
Sales activity within OMREB’s three diverse market areas tends to vary among property types zone-by-zone and month-by-month with ups and downs at different times and locations.
In order to fully understand the overall picture of the current residential market in our Board area, it is important to look at prices within property types and sale price trends within different price points.
Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke): Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during June improved by 28.2% compared to 2013 -- to 963 units from 751.
Total residential sales for the month rose 29.9% to 878 units board-wide compared to 676 last June.
The 1,648 new listings taken board-wide for the month were up 10.7% compared to the 1,489 listings posted in June 2013, while inventory (active listings) was down 10.6% over this time last year – to 7,935 from 8,876.
Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country): During June, overall sales in the Central Zone were up 25.5% -- to 606 units from 483 in 2013. Total residential sales for the month improved 29.3% to 556 units compared to 430 last year at this time. The sale of single family homes was up 13.8% over June 2013 (to 289 from 254).
The 980 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw an 11.2% rise compared to 881 in 2013, and total inventory was reduced by 13.6% to 4,002 units from 4,629 last June.
North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby): Overall sales for June in the North Zone improved 28.3% to 236 units compared to 184 units sold last year at this time. Total residential sales for the month were up 24.1% over last year with 216 units sold compared to 174. Single family home sales (122 units) were up 27.1% compared to June 2013 (96).
While the 401 new listings taken for the month were up 19.4% from the 2013 level of 336, inventory for June saw a 7.8% dip to 2,233 from 2,422 last year.
Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke): During June, overall unit sales in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 45.8% to 121 units compared to 83 in 2013. Total residential unit sales for the month were up 47.2% over last year at 106 units compared to 72, while the sale of single family homes rose 42.5% over June 2013 (to 57 from 40).
New listings taken in the Zone were down marginally (1.1%) compared to last June to 266 units from 269. Overall inventory dipped 6.8% to 1,692 from 1,816 during the same month in 2013.
For the most comprehensive source of all real estate listings, home buying and selling information, visit our national websites at: www.realtor.ca and www.icx.ca. To find out about the advantages of using a REALTOR®, check out www.howrealtorshelp.ca.
Canada’s recreational property market is going strong and the Okanagan is one of the most popular places to buy. If you can afford it.
RE/MAX released its annual Recreational Property Report, showing healthy activity across much of the country and forecasting modest increases in sales and prices through the rest of the year.
Although central and eastern Canada has seen a slow start to the season, Western Canada is “experiencing healthy activity heading into summer.”
The report states that consumer confidence in Western Canada is high and motivated buyers are seeking out their dream vacation homes, with some markets reporting the most activity they have seen since the 2008 recession.
It is also believed that the weaker Canadian dollar has prompted buyers to remain in Canada rather than buying south of the border.
“We see momentum in recreational property sales, especially near urban centres where local residents have experienced several years of economic growth,” said Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “This year we are seeing the effects of buyer confidence in some regions thanks to built-up equity gains and strong job markets across the West.”
Recreational property markets in British Columbia are therefore back up in value after price depreciation was felt following the 2010 Olympics.
British Columbia’s mild climate, culture and active lifestyle activities continue to be a significant draw for potential buyers. Especially in the Okanagan Valley which is seeing an increase of buyers from Alberta with new direct flights from Fort McMurray.
Here is the breakdown of regions in the Okanagan:
“Kelowna has a wide selection of properties for recreational buyers, from waterfront condos to homes in wooded areas with stunning mountain views and access.”
Demand in Kelowna is being driven mostly by a growing number of baby boomers moving to the area to retire, as well as young professionals seeking a milder climate to raise their families. Total year to date residential unit sales in Kelowna are up 20 per cent year-over-year.
The average year to date residential sale price in Kelowna (not-waterfront) in May was $425,856, up from $383,395 the previous year. However, the report notes that Kelowna saw a number of high-end sales early this year so the median price tells a better story. The median residential sale price in Kelowna was $380,000 in May, up 7 per cent year over year.
Just over 20 per cent of buyers in Kelowna are now from Alberta, but buyers from across B.C. remain the largest demographic accounting for over 70 per cent of sales.
“Summer residents and visitors participate in a wide-range of outdoor activities such as golf, swimming, water skiing and mountain biking in the summer and snowmobiling and skiing in the winter.”
The South Okanagan is attracting buyers who want waterfront property and they are paying big. With Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake attracting buyers, property prices start at about $900,000.
Sales activity in the area is picking up this year due to the strengthening economy in Western Canada.
Buyers in the South Okanagan tend to come from the Lower Mainland and other parts of B.C., as well as Alberta.
The majority of buyers are baby boomers that are close to retirement age and are looking either to retire in the area, or for a vacation home.
“Properties in and around the North Okanagan area start at about $650,000 and increase to just under $6 million, depending on location, size and amenities.”
The North Okanagan is starting to get the attention of the central and southern area thanks to growing confidence in the economy and the real estate market in particular says RE/MAX.
Buyers in the North Okanagan, like the South Okanagan, are looking for high-end homes, preferably waterfront, either as weekend getaways or to live in during their retirement years.
Most buyers are between ages 35 to 55 and come from the Lower Mainland, parts of Alberta, and the U.S.
“The annual Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, held each August, is a big draw for residents and tourists, attracting over 30,000 people ever year."
This northern part of the Okanagan is increasing in popularity and price, while remaining more affordable then the rest, for now.
Recreational property in this region in B.C.’s interior starts at about $427,000 for boat access properties and about $450,000 for homes with road access.
There are also some condos in low-rise buildings in places such as Sicamous and Sorrento that are priced in the low-to-mid $200,000 range.
RE/MAX notes that sales across in the Shuswap were significantly depressed in the recession, which created a true buyers market.
The average waterfront home in 2007 in the area was $900,000, in 2014 it sits at only $590,000.
While each real estate market and province has its own identifying trends and attractions RE/MAX discovered some national findings in their report.
First of all is who is buying these recreational secondary homes. They found that two groups are buying the majority of properties.
“The first is made up of families with younger children, who have built up equity in their primary residence and are using that money to purchase a vacation property. The second group is made up of near or recent retirees who have purchased a recreational property with a plan to use it as a primary summer residence and launching pad for winter travel.”
The report also found that there has been a large increase in people buying close to city centers as the value of their own home in the city has increased enough to give them the equity to purchase a recreation home.
One other significant report finding was a change in why people were buying these vacation homes.
“While in the past, properties were largely used for weekend getaways and a week or two of summer vacationing, today many are purchasing a property from which they can work throughout the summer. Furthermore, a majority now see their recreational property as a four-season vacation option, rather than just a summer retreat.”
A massive new development is already underway in Lake Country, and local officials held an official groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning.
The Lakestone waterfront community will be located on a 550-acre parcel of land in Okanagan Landing. Once completed, it will include 1,365 homes and also 300 acres of preserved open space featuring walking trials from the lakefront to Summit Park.
“This is a great development for Lake Country and the largest single development I think, with the total build out,” says Lake Country Mayor James Baker.
Construction on the development has already begun; Friday’s official ceremony was to ‘break ground’ on the $3.5-million Lake Club, which will include a pool, hot tubs fitness centre and space to store water toys.
The private club will only be available to property owners at Lakestone, but will also have a public beach for Lake Country residents and anyone else.
Owner and President Robert Macdonald of Macdonald Development – the company in charge of Lakestone – says the project is coming together on a great piece of land.
“We felt ourselves extremely fortunate, because this location on Lake Okanagan is very special in world terms. And most of us have travelled around the world. And there are very few places on the entire planet as special as this.”
Phase 1 has already sold out near the water’s edge with lot prices going for $195,000.
They are currently preselling lots of phase 3 for $225,000.
Wilden is celebrating spring in a big way. The opening of the newest Showhome in Kelowna’s nature-inspired community will be a grand event that includes an art exhibit by graduating UBC students, music by a world-renowned harpist, and a very special gift for all mothers.
The Grand Opening Event will be held in Wilden’s Hidden Lake Lane townhome neighbourhood on Mother’s Day, May 11th from 1 pm to 5 pm. Just follow Union Road to the end, then turn right on Begbie Road.
While touring the impressive townhome, be sure to take in the very special art exhibit. The work of three budding artists, all graduating students in the UBC Fine Arts program, will be on display. Their work is part of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies’ exhibition, entitled Ellipsis, which showcases the work of 27 recent graduates.
Throughout the afternoon, world-performing harpist Caroline Mackay will enhance the ambiance with a diverse repertoire of Celtic ballads, Latin rhythms, and classical arrangements.
To celebrate Mother’s Day and the arrival of spring, all mothers who attend the Grand Opening Event will receive a beautiful gift: Chrysanthemums in a flowerpot-shaped mug, appropriately called “Mums in a Mug”. Find more information at www.wildeninspring.ca.
Hidden Lake Lane townhomes are renowned for being exceptionally large, pet friendly, and energy efficient – and for having a naturally preserved lake in the backyard. The townhomes are conveniently located just 5 minutes from the Glenmore shops and 10-15 minutes from downtown Kelowna, the UBC campus, and airport. Read more about the Wilden Townhomes at www.wildentownhomes.ca
Wilden is the largest master-planned community between Vancouver and Calgary, situated 10 minutes from downtown Kelowna in a beautiful hillside setting that offers stunning views of Okanagan Lake. Over half of the 2000-acre development is dedicated to parks, nature trails and wildlife reserves. Wilden offers a variety of neighbourhoods, customizable pre-priced homes and lot/home packages to suit all lifestyles and budgets. When complete, Wilden will comprise over 2,800 homes.
The Okanagan-Shuswap housing market saw another increase in activity last month over the same time period in 2013, but sales slowed in February compared to January of this year.
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported February sales activity were up eight per cent (average) compared with the same month in 2013.
“For the most part, the housing market in the Okanagan-Shuswap continues to strengthen and maintain a ‘steady as she goes’ trend although February dampened somewhat compared to January’s significant year-over-year gains,” explained Karen Singbeil, OMREB President.
Of the three market areas in the region (North, Central and Shuswap) the North Okanagan saw the biggest decrease in activity last month. After a very strong January, overall sales were down 6.3 per cent year-over-year in February, with snowy conditions being blamed for deterring buyers.
Things looked better in the Shuswap zone where overall sales were up 10.8 per cent, but that was still well below January's increase of 22 per cent.
The Central Zone saw the biggest overall sales increase. They rose 12.6 per cent over 2013, and also surpassed the increase of 5.9 per cent recorded in January.
Following that trend of growth, housing starts in the Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area were also up last month, trending at 1,340 units in February compared to 1,219 units in January, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
“Higher levels of new home construction in 2014 are supported by lower inventories of new, completed and unabsorbed homes. Rising sales of existing homes coupled with fewer active listings have also contributed to increased demand for new homes,” explained CMHC Market Analyst Paul Fabri.
As we head into Spring, the expectation is that the real estate market will continue to improve, and there is optimism that recreation and investment property owners will return to the Okanagan this summer mirroring activity that has already begun on Vancouver Island.
Blenk Developments had a successful year in 2013.
Lot sales in Wilden were up 50% over 2012, and construction starts have been nearing pre-downturn volumes and are likely to continue into 2014.
Alberta residents are coming out in record numbers and showing great interest in living in the City of Kelowna. Wilden townhomes at Hidden Lake Lane have also beat sales expectations.
"We are anticipating a strong increase in sales for the New Year and are looking forward to a busy and prosperous year ahead with a steady increase in sales activity for 2014", says Vice President Brent Couves.
There are currently five new showhomes on Skyland Drive.
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