Okanagan-Shuswap Housing Market Dampens in February

Kelowna, BC – The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported February sales activity of all MLS® property types were up 8% compared the same month in 2013.

“For the most part, the housing market in the Okanagan-Shuswap continues to strengthen and maintain a ‘steady as she goes’ trend although February dampened somewhat compared to January’s significant year-over-year gains,” says Karen Singbeil, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the Shuswap.

“While the North Okanagan posted the most improvement in January over sales levels that were at a cyclical low at this time last year, activity slipped in February with home sales pulled back and snowy conditions deterring potential buyers – as was also reflected by most markets in the province. However, the Central Okanagan and Shuswap zones did improve marginally over 2013 with the Shuswap posting the strongest unit sales, while the sale of a number of higher end properties during the month resulted in a temporary bump up in average residential prices for the Central Okanagan.”

The lagging economy and anaemic job creation from 2013 has spilled over into the first quarter of 2014 and impacted consumer demand for housing, but employment is expected to gain momentum during the second half of the year and spur growth in BC markets. As jobs and real estate prices continue to rise in Alberta, recreation and investment property buyers could return to the Okanagan this summer and mirror the activity that has already begun on Vancouver Island.

“Heading into the Spring market, we are hopeful buying activity will pick up as the weather improves and consumer confidence is spurred by the continuation of low long-term interest rates,” Singbeil notes.

“Despite declining inventory and some sellers remaining on the sidelines, buyers still have adequate inventory with a good selection of properties to choose from in our Board area. This can be a challenge for sellers so they must be aware of the competition for buyers, set an attractive list price and be willing to negotiate for the best offer. Market conscious and competitive home sellers understand that proper pricing remains critical so they are sharpening their pencils and seeing results. “

Singbeil points out that OMREB’s three market areas are diverse so sales activity tends to vary among property types zone-by-zone and month-by-month with ups and downs at different times and locations.

“In order to fully understand the overall picture of the current residential market in our Board area, it is important to look at prices within property types and sale price trends within different price points.”

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke): Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during February improved by 7.9% compared to 2013 — to 383 units from 355. Total residential sales for the month rose 10.4% to 339 units board-wide compared to 307 last February (up 5.8% compared to 322 last month – January 2014). The 1,256 new listings taken board-wide for the month were on par with the number of listings posted in February 2013 (1,257), while inventory (active listings) was down 7.7% over this time last year – to 6,954 from 7,536. Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country): During February, overall sales in the Central Zone were up 12.6% to 267 units from 237 in 2013. Total residential sales for the month improved 16.5 % to 240 units compared to 206 last year at this time. The 839 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a 6.3% rise compared to 789 in 2013, while total inventory was reduced by 9.5% to 3,698 units from 4,088 last February.

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