While February goes down as a record-shattering month for home sales in B.C., the results aren’t reflective of this corner of the province, a local realtor advises.
The B.C. Real Estate Association noted a 44.7 per cent hike in home sales last month, in comparison to the same time last year. The association counts 9,637 residential units changed hands across the province in February, beating out the 1992 monthly sales record by 1,480.
In a related report, the Canadian Real Estate Association is noting the same trend in the Kootenay region, which came well above MLS levels recorded a year ago in the month of February. Home sales in the Kootenays climbed 28.1 per cent (173 units sold) from last year while all property types increased by 25.7 per cent. An average home in the Kootenays is $252,360, according to the association.
“But that is an average for the entire geographic area of the Kootenay Real Estate Board – which includes East and West Kootenay and the Boundary area. It may not reflect the reality of a specific area,” explained Marianne Bond, Executive Director of the Kootenay Real Estate Board.
“There are significant variations within each community in the Kootenay area. It is important to call your realtor to get data specific to the area you are interested in.”
Fair Reality’s Ron Allibone said market trends in other areas of the region or province are not always felt locally.
The Kootenay Real Estate Board counts 10 homes sold in Trail in February this year, which is in line with what was sold the same time last year. Figures for surrounding areas looked much the same.
“The market is not super highly productive, but there are people around shopping for homes,” admits Allibone. “It’s just that we’re not growing, and that’s the key to a healthy economy is growth, and we’re not doing that because we don’t have any new jobs to offer.”
Prices in the Trail area are the lowest they’ve been in a “long time,” said Allibone, comparing today’s sales with deals made in 2004.
Downward pressure is evident in neighbourhoods like Glenmerry where some houses are going for as low as $150,000. The few new homes that are on the market, he adds, are also priced to sell for just over $300,000 and put further pressure on resale homes.
“Our market is by no means dead, we do have an active market,” Allibone clarified.
He has sold some homes to Albertans settling into the area, but just as a new person enters, another leaves. Middlers are following their adult children to be closer to their grandchildren and seniors are moving into care facilities or passing away.
He said the area needs new opportunity to not only attract more residents but to in turn make a case to developers to take a risk and build.
The number of building permits issued by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) in 2015 was somewhat greater than 2014 (427 versus 400), and the value of construction was significantly higher in 2015 ($57,622,845, compared to $17,190,864), according to Mark Andison, RDKB general manager of operations.
“This was largely due to major industrial construction projects at Teck, as well as some other larger projects such as a new day lodge at Big White,” he explained.
Allibone said the surge in the Lower Mainland is related to out-of-country investors playing the “speculation” market.
He said investors are reselling the title on a property before they even take possession by assigning the contract to another party. Demand has driven housing prices up, and deep pocket buyers are playing real estate “like it’s the stock market.”