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Kelowna Housing Market Heats Up

Monday Apr 18 2016

Sold house sign in Midwest suburban setting. Focus on sign.

Sure, there are fables of homes in Kelowna listed for sale for $500,000 that attract 26 showings over a single weekend and myriad offers resulting in them changing hands for $560,000.

“But that is still very much the exception, not the rule,” said Francis Braam, managing broker at Royal LePage Kelowna.

“We definitely have a sellers’ market in Kelowna. There’s less supply and more demand, and pricing is back to the peak it was at in 2008. But, it’s more likely a home will sell in 41 days for 98 per cent of the asking price after two or three offers come in.”

After a long, slow rise succeeding the 2009 recession, Kelowna’s real estate market has been on a bit of a tear lately.

But the hottest city in B.C. is Vancouver, where an average two-storey home is currently selling for $2.4 million, up 30 per cent from the $2.1 million of a year ago.

It’s also the setting for the true story of a bungalow being listed for $1.5 million and then selling just a couple of days later for $2 million after 110 showings and a bidding war among frenzied potential buyers.

“There’s insanity in Vancouver. Nobody knows what a house is worth there now, including the listing realtor,” said Braam.

“Kelowna is nowhere near that.”

Yet, Kelowna does have a market like it hasn’t seen in seven years.

“There’s some pent-up demand,” said Braam.

“The condo glut is over and sellers are likely to get multiple offers, possibly for a little above the asking price, for all kinds of homes if it’s nice and clean.”

After languishing in a buyers’ market from 2009 to 2013, the market became balanced with families confident enough to start looking for homes in the $400,000-to-$450,000 range.

The market tipped in the sellers’ favour when more people started to search for properties up to $800,000 and the condo glut dissipated.

This discussion comes about as Royal LePage released its house-price survey covering the first three months of the year.

It showed the selling price of an average two-storey home in Kelowna in the first quarter was $631,200, up 13 per cent from the $558,300 it was a year earlier.

Bungalows, usually considered a bi-level in Kelowna, are currently changing hands at an average $472,500, up 2.4 per cent from $461,500 a year ago.

And condos edged up 1.6 per cent to $306,000 from $301,200.

The Kelowna market is primarily driven by local people having the confidence to transition from a rental to a purchased home, moving up to a bigger and better house or empty nesters and retirees downsizing to a still-pricey home.

However, the absurdity in Vancouver has driven some Lower Mainland buyers to the Okanagan in search of affordable home prices.

Ironically, the tanking of oil prices has also benefited Kelowna.

Working Albertans who have wanted to relocate to Kelowna and retirees took the cue of tough times in their province to actually make the move.

The Royal LePage survey tracked prices in 53 Canadian cities.

Kelowna’s price jump of 13 per cent is somewhere in the middle, similar to increases in Victoria, Surrey, Belleville-Trenton, Ont., and Ottawa.

The most monumental hike was in Vancouver, but other Lower Mainland markets had impressive lifts, with Burnaby coming in at 22 per cent, Coquitlam at 20 and West Vancouver at 19.5.

Despite the doom and gloom in Calgary, the average selling price of a two-storey home there is only off one per cent to $518,500.

Cities that lost ground include Fredericton, down 10 per cent, Kingston, off eight per cent, Charlottetown, dipping four per cent, and St. John, N.L., at three per cent less.

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