Okanagan residents appear to be picking up the slack in the Kelowna real estate market. While out-of-province buyers in Alberta and Manitoba recover from the recent decline in oil prices, Quincy Vrecko & Associates is reporting brisk activity in the Central Okanagan heading into summer.
According to the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) statistics for the month of June, year-to-date residential unit sales for the central region rose 13.1 per cent compared to the same period (January through June) last year.
“The market’s doing really well and we’re starting to see prices creeping up as well,” said Tracey Vrecko, a Kelowna realtor who anticipates the market will continue to strengthen as the year progresses.
“There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of it slowing down. We finally have the excitement in our industry that sales are healthy.”
Vrecko says much of the activity this year is the result of Okanagan residents who are either first-time homebuyers, or are moving up the property ladder. And while sales in the $1 million-plus category have gotten off to a slower start this year, Vrecko says a flurry of activity in the $600,000 range has helped make up for it.
“It’s been an interesting shift in where our buyers are from,” she says. “It’s been driven by residents in the Okanagan.”
However, with the annual influx of out-of-town visitors to the Okanagan underway, Vrecko anticipates more movement in the luxury market. Many vacationers use their summer holidays as an opportunity to view Kelowna real estate and gauge market conditions. With the region’s climate, abundant outdoor activities and laid-back lifestyle, she isn’t surprised to see people wanting to relocate to the area.
“People come here to the Okanagan in the summer and fall in love,” says Vrecko. “The area sells itself—we often see people return here to purchase their dream home.”
Vrecko adds that a relatively low inventory (there are 10.1 per cent fewer residential homes on the market compared to last June), coupled with high buyer demand, has greatly reduced the amount of time listings are staying on the market. In June, the average residential home took just 59 days to sell, a 9.5 per cent drop from the 65 days it took last June.
The result is potential homebuyers now have less time to decide whether they want to make an offer, as competition for housing increases.
“Homes are being bought up quite quickly and we’re starting to see multiple offers happen,” says Vrecko. “If you’re worrying about values going up, this is definitely the time to buy.”