Business

Column: Real estate sales still lagging in Central Okanagan

The majority of the encouraging 2013 real estate forecasts are starting to look bleak and slightly misleading for the first quarter in the Okanagan.

For the Central Okanagan, a comparison between February 2012 and February 2013, sales were down across the board by 17.77 per cent.

Residential sales decreased from this time last year by 12.31 per cent, as only a mere 114 single family homes sold in February compared to the more optimistic number of 130 units in 2012.

Condominium sales experienced a  disappointing decrease as well, as sales were down 24.07 per cent and townhouses faced a similar scenario, a diminishing 30.61 per cent in sales for the month of February.

Inventory for the Central Okanagan is continuing to remain in the lower spectrum; listing activity was down 17.82 per cent from 2012.

For February, 357 single-family properties came onto the market, a decrease of just under six per cent from the 378 from the previous year.

There is some good news for condo sellers—only 134 condominiums came onto the market, a decline of 20.71 per cent. Although inventory for single-family homes has not met the level of product on the market from the previous year, it has increased from January—1,196 units compared to 1,320 units. “We remain concerned; I remain concerned with the housing market in Canada,” said Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Flaherty’s concern also arises from a recent announcement by the Bank of Montreal decreasing their mortgage rates to 2.99 per cent for a five-year term. His concerns are that a historic low percentage in mortgage rates may ultimately contribute to loose spending by buyers in already uncertain economy, resulting in the infamous bubble bursting if there is a spike in the mortgage rates down the line. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball for us to turn to for advice on the real estate market in Kelowna or the Central Okanagan.

Our only option is to educate ourselves on the current market conditions and trends, avoid taking on too much debt too quickly and to ask yourselves: “How long will rates and inventory continue to remain low?”

Ceinwen Morgan has worked in the Kelowna real estate industry for the past five years.

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