Slow Start to New Year for Okanagan Housing Market

Kelowna, BC – The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported January 2015 sales activity of all MLS® property types declined 15% compared to the same month in 2014 – a slow start to the new year for the Okanagan Housing Market.

“While demand typically slows in January, Okanagan-Shuswap home sales declined more than expected after the steady upward trend and solid end to 2014,” says Darcy Griffiths, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the North Okanagan. “The additional slowdown can be attributed to the record snow falls blanketing our Board area as the new year began, and the downturn in the Alberta oil patch negatively impacting consumer confidence.”

Albertans may be pulling back from second home purchases for investment, recreation and retirement, and local households relying on work in the oil industry are waiting to see what happens next, Griffiths notes. “However, we remain cautiously optimistic and are hopeful the lower lending rates will provide some incentive and boost buyer activity as 2015 unfolds.”

Market conditions in the OMREB area have deteriorated to the margin between a buyer’s (more supply than demand) and balanced (stable for both buyers and sellers) market in January from the cusp between a balanced and seller’s (more demand than supply) market at year end, depending on the Zone and property type.

“The Central Okanagan took the softest hit in January with total residential sales dipping 5% and single residential declining 16%, while apartment sales improved by 12% compared to 2014,” Griffiths reports. “The North Okanagan saw a 12% drop in total residential sales and single family residential sales were down 18% compared to this time last year. In the Shuswap, total residential sales dropped 15% while single family residential sales declined by 42% compared to January 2014.”

Experiencing ups and downs at different times and locations, sales activity and prices within OMREB’s three diverse market areas tends to vary among property types zone-by-zone and month-by-month, Griffiths explains. The price of single family homes is steady and strong in most areas with modest gains seen in some locations where supply has tightened.

The selection of single family homes has been reduced with an ongoing decline in inventory and new listings, especially for those priced below $500,000. The shortage of entry level homes has pushed buyers into purchases in the next level up, or into the condo and townhouse market where there is more value in their price range.

“In order to fully understand the overall picture of the current residential market, it is important to consult with a professional REALTOR® to look at prices within property types and sale price trends within different price points,” Griffiths says.

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke): Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during January 2015 dropped by 15.2% compared to 2014 (to 334 units from 394) -- down by 21% compared to December 2014 (from 423).

Total residential sales for the month dipped by 7.8% (296 units board-wide compared to 321 in 2014), while single family home sales were down 19.6% compared to January 2014 (to 135 from 168).

The 1,067 new listings taken board-wide for the month were down 11.2% compared to the 1,201 listings posted in January 2014, while inventory (active listings) declined 12.7% to 5,706 from 6,533.

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country): During January, overall sales in the Central Zone were down 7.3% -- to 215 units from 232 in 2014. Total residential sales for the month dipped by 4.9% to 194 units compared to 204 in 2014. The sale of 88 single family homes saw a 16.2 % drop from the 105 in January 2014, while apartment sales improved by 11.8% (to 38 from 34).

The 720 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a nominal decrease (5.5%) compared to 762 in 2014, and total inventory was reduced by 14.7% to 2,919 units from 3,422.

North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby): Overall sales for January in the North Zone declined 28.8% to 84 units compared to 118 units sold the previous year at this time. Total residential sales for the month were down 11.8% from last year with 75 units sold compared to 85. Single family home sales (36 units) dropped by 18.2% compared to January 2014 (44).

The 235 new listings taken for the month were down by 20.3% from the 2014 level of 295. Inventory for January saw a 6.2% dip to 1,653 from 1,763 in January of 2014.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke): During January, overall unit sales in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone declined by 22.7% over 2014 at 34 units compared to 44. Total residential unit sales for the month were down 15.6% at 27 units compared to 32 in 2014, while the sale of single family homes dropped 42.1% (to 11 units from 19).

The 111 new listings taken in the Zone were down 22.9% compared to 144 in January 2014. Overall inventory dipped 15.9% to 1,130 from 1,344 during the first month of 2014.

”The competition for buyers can still be a challenge for sellers if properties are not priced attractively from the start,” Griffiths warns. “The key to a successful sale is being realistic about the market value of your home and willing to negotiate for the best offer.

Whether you are selling or buying a home, a professional REALTOR® who is familiar with the area and your particular neighbourhood can assist with searching, listing, negotiating and closing.

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