Of Prime Interest: Watching the interest rates

With rates being so low, it has allowed more people to get into the real estate market.

The past 12 months has seen a lot of positives in both real estate sales and mortgage interest rates.

In real estate, there has been a balanced market. Sales have been higher than in 2013 and inventories showed a marked decline in single family dwellings, strata condominiums, townhomes and bare land lots.

On top of that, prices have increased in most sectors with new home construction also on an upswing.

Some stats comparing 2014 to 2013:

• Residential sales—up 7.73%

• Condo sales—up 3.20%

• Lot sales—up 4.64%

• Residential listings down by 136. Indicates inventory is being bought up

• Units sold—up 52.

The average house price as at December 2014 is $475,799.  B.C. Assessment notices are out and we have seen price increases generally from 0 to 10 per cent. Assessments reflected the value of a property as at July 1, 2014.

Mortgage interest rates remained at historical lows for the year. With rates being so low, it has allowed more people to get into the real estate market.

Also, there are opportunities to do those renovations that have been put on hold. Those looking to consolidate their vehicle loans, credit cards and lines of credit allows the reduction in monthly payments.

Looking at the year ahead, there are many variables that can affect both home values and where interest rates are headed.  We are all affected by what happens in Canada—price of the barrel of oil and how long the low prices will last; how our Canadian economy is advancing.

We are also affected by the economic performance in the United States and globally.

All indications, to date, show the year ahead to be a balanced real estate market with increases in property values.

We all look, with great anticipation, to seeing what will happen to our real estate market if there is a continuance of low oil prices.

As for interest rates, it is difficult to predict what will happen.  Whether there will be an increase or remain the same will hinge on what direction the Bank of Canada decides to go as the year unfolds. Will our economy grow? Will inflation kick in?

As it stands today, those looking to purchase or build a home, do renovations, consolidate or take equity out for larger purchases or investments have the availability to choose very low interest rates with excellent terms and conditions.

It will be an interesting year ahead.

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