If it seems like the Central Okanagan real estate market is heating up, you would not be mistaken.
Real estate sales statistics for June released by the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board reflect a 38 per cent increase in sales compared to the same month last year.
OMREB said that amounts to 1,263 properties being sold which were posted to the Multiple Listing Service.
“Housing demand continues to be robust in all three regions we serve. While days to sell rose slightly in June to 81 days from 77 in May, consumers looking to buy are still likely to feel pressure to respond quickly and decisively to listings”, said Anthony Bastiaanssen, OMREB president and a local area real estate agent.
Bastiaanssen noted that the average MLS residential price this past month was $475,091, slightly down from $486,636 in May and representing a 16 per cent increase over the same month last year. In all regions served by OMREB, which extends over a region from Revelstoke to Peachland, active listings dropped 21.37 per cent compared to this time last year.
“We are seeing more buyers looking to regions outside the core in order to find homes in line with their budget. Average residential pricing that is slightly down from May could be an indication of this, reflecting a higher proportion of lower-priced sales in the make-up of product sold in this time period,” said Bastiaanssen.
“Either way, we are still light on supply as compared to demand, so until this situation eases, we will see higher prices.”
Population growth is a factor impacting the current Okanagan market, with most buyers coming from the Lower Mainland, and other regions of B.C., followed by buyers from Alberta and other provinces.
However, an OMREB monthly survey of buyers shows that a significant majority of buyers are Okanagan residents at 58 per cent, followed by 17 per cent from the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island, and 12 per cent from Alberta.
“Of the 58 per cent of buyers who already live in the Okanagan, there’s a relative balance between first time buyers, and those who a per cent of the total buyer population, are a relatively small percentage.”
Bastiaanssen said that two parent families with children, at 28 per cent of buyers, make up the largest single group of buyers, followed by empty nesters or retirees at 21 per cent and couples without children at 18 per cent.
In terms of housing affordability, Bastiaanssen said OMREB would like to see a move towards more of a balanced market. “Currently, we are short of listings in many neighbourhoods and across most home types for the number of buyers who wish to buy. This drives prices up, reducing affordability. A more optimal situation is where there is more of a balance between supply and demand.”
While local builders are responding to the situation with the number of housing starts on a significant rise, Bastiaanssen added the time it takes to bring new product to market means that the current situation is likely to remain for some time.