Trail remains the least-expensive area in the entire Kootenay region to buy a home, according to Kootenay Real Estate Board figures recently released for 2011.
With the average single family home selling for $165,636 in 2011 in Trail — a drop of $21,708 from 2010 — the Silver City was only rivaled by Greenwood ($150,000), in the lowest average price category.
Nelson remained the highest priced community in the West Kootenay at $334,079, down from $355,331 in 2010, while homes were selling for $279,510 on average in Castlegar in 2010, nearly $11,000 more than in 2010.
Rossland’s average house prices also were on the rise in 2011, jumping from $254,473 on average in 2010 to $272,413 in 2011.
House prices in Warfield and Fruitvale also rose in 2011, with average hikes of $29,000 and $57,000, respectively — largely due to their small sales volumes.
It was a tough year for real estate sales in 2011, said Jim Barber, president of the Kootenay Real Estate Board (KREB), but the market and interest rates are expected to stabilize for 2012, and that prediction holds true for the Kootenays.
Barber said statistics indicate that while activity and prices were down from 2010 the market has calmed and is still tilted slightly towards buyers.
Expectations are that prices and activity may rise somewhat in 2012 across the Kootenays.
It’s a buyer’s market right now in Trail, said Century 21 Kootenay Homes Inc. owner Richard Daoust, but he was cautiously optimistic 2012 would be better market for both buyers and sellers given the economic opportunities in the Trail area.
He said the pinch of 2011 — the lowest sales average in five years — in Trail should relinquish somewhat as the city’s strong economy surges forward.
“We’re a nice little pocket that will hugely benefit with what is going on with Teck, and the Waneta (Dam) expansion … and the e-Waste program at Teck,” he said. “There are just lots of jobs right now and where else do you see that in other areas at this time in the economy?”
Across the Kootenay region the inventory has remained high at 3,075 residential units, while sales have plummeted to 1,078, the lowest total in 20 years. In Trail, 303 units were listed in 2011 while 107 were sold, the second lowest total sold in 20 years.
The real estate market in Trail has slowed, Daoust admitted, and it was a surprising move considering expectations were for it to be a bit more active in 2011 than it was, just because of what was going on in local markets with job activity increasing at Teck and with the Waneta expansion underway.
A glut of house inventory on the market also contributed to the market slowing down and prices lowering.
“It seemed to take until this year before we really saw the people saying, ‘We understand where the market is, and if we want to sell or need to sell this is where we need to go down to if we want to sell,’” he said.
Higher end homes in Trail — worth over $300,000 — did not move until the last few weeks of 2011, said Daoust.