The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board says property sales here in January were up slightly when compared with sales in December, and unlike in other areas of the Okanagan, were also up when compared with same month last year.
“Last year, the housing market remained fairly stable for the Okanagan-Shuswap with a good build-up in sales in many segments for most of the year and only losing strength during the closing two months,” said OMREB President Rob Shaw. “This slowdown carried over into January, which is typically not a strong month, and can be partially attributed to the dreary winter weather that keeps people indoors.”
He said this area was not alone as most B.C. markets saw a low level of activity or a decline in sales inJanuary, replicating the last quarter of 2012 when markets were impacted by the tightening of credit and wavering consumer confidence.
“Board-wide, overall sales for the month were down five per cent compared to last year at this time. Sales of all property types dropped by 32 per cent in the North Okanagan and three per cent in the Shuswap, but the Central Okanagan showed a four per cent improvement over January 2012,” said Shaw.
“Due to the divergence in our market areas, sales tend to vary among single family, townhouse and apartment properties month by month and zone by zone,” he added.
In January, the Central Okanagan showed the greatest strength with a 16 per cent bump in townhouse sales and five per cent rise in the sale of single family residential homes. The North Okanagan took the biggest a hit last month with a 40 per cent decline in single family home sales.
Board-wide—from Peachland to Revelstoke—overall sales dipped 4.9 per cent during January to 306 units compared to 322 in 2012. But there was a 9.7 per cent improvement over the 279 units sold in December 2012, said OMREB.
While the number of sales of all property types declined compared to 2012, January’s sales volumes at $112.29 million paralleled last year’s level at $112.27 million.
The total number of residential sales for the month slipped 4.5 per cent over January 2012 (to 273 units from 286). The sale of single family residential homes was down 6.8 per cent compared to last year at this time (to 150 from 161).
While the 1,137 new listings taken through out the area for the month dropped 16.8 per cent from 1,367 last year, inventory in January was down 2.8 per cent to 7,181 from 7,387 in 2012.
The Central Okanagan, however, proved to be the bright spot. Here, during January, overall sales were up 3.8 per cent over the same month last year and sales volumes improved 17.2 per cent with 219 units valued at $87.7 million compared to 211 at $74.8 million in 2012.
Total residential sales for the month rose 4.2 per cent and sales volumes were up 13.5 per cent compared to 2012—to 197 units at $77.8 million from 189 at $68.5 million last January. Single family home sales in January were up 4.9 per cent from 2012 (to 107 units from 102), while townhouse sales improved 16.0 per cent over last year, to 29 from 25.
The 770 new listings in January was a 14.4 per cent decline however when compared to the 900 in 2012, with inventory for the month dropping 8.6 per cent to 3,866 units from 4,231 last year.
In the North Okanagan, from Predator Ridge to Enderby, overall sales last month dropped 31.5 per cent to 50 units valued at $13.4 million from 73 at $24.6 million in 2012. Total residential sales for the month were down 29.7 per cent over last year—to 45 units valued at $12.1 million versus 64 at $21.7 million. Single family home sales declined 40.5 per cent to 22 units compared to 37 in January 2012.
“While we expect sluggish sales will likely continue in February, we are cautiously optimistic that the second quarter of 2013 will see an improvement in our housing market. Signs of renewed buyer interest are already evident as open house traffic and calls for showings are on the rise,” said Shaw.
“People who need to make a move to satisfy lifestyle changes can’t afford to continue with a wait-and-see approach indefinitely and will finally get off the fence. Serious buyers could be waiting for the much anticipated transition back from the existing 12 per cent Harmonized Sales Tax to the seven per cent Provincial Sales Tax and the five per cent federal Goods and Services Tax on April 1,” he added.