Update: The amount of million-dollar homes sold requires clarification. As opposed to “million-dollar homes” it should allude to “high-end homes over $500,000 in price.” Richard Daoust clarified the mis-interpretation by adding Century 21 sells perhaps one million-dollar home every few years.
The average cost of a house in Canada is the highest it has ever been, and prices in the Lower Columbia region are expected to go up in the coming years.
The average price of a house in Trail is around $184,000 for 2014 – one of the lowest in the province. To compare, the national average price is more than double that at $405,233.
Century 21 real estate agent Richard Daoust says despite the low looking average, housing prices have actually risen slightly in the Lower Columbia area over the last five or six years.
“(Prices) went down a bit during the 2009 crisis, and they have moved up since then,” he said, adding that things have evened out. “But, over the last couple of years, in our market, which is from Rossland all the way to Fruitvale and everything in between, they have stayed about the same.”
In Rossland, a select few higher priced homes, around the $1 million mark, bring the average price up slightly above the Trail area.
“Those high end homes have brought the overall average up in Rossland,” said Coldwell Banker agent Jack McConnachie. “The average price in Rossland, if I remember correctly, is just over $220,000, but it is those few high-priced homes that have brought that higher.”
Rossland’s million-dollar homes used be more prevalent, and now, the market is down to selling only a couple per year.
“Prior to (the 2009 financial crisis), we were selling about six or seven (million-dollar homes) a year,” said Daoust. “On average, now, we sell about one or two a year, which is actually a huge upswing from when everything turned in the other direction.”
Even though prices have risen a bit over the last few years, McConnachie says now is the time to buy.
“It is definitely an opportune time for someone to buy a house,” he said.
“You have just never seen housing at as good a value as it is right now.”
But, buyers looking at listings or talking to a real estate agent shouldn’t be deceived by what could seem like a price too low to pass up.
There are currently some homes in the Trail area listed for around $50,000, but Daoust says the key is looking into how much money needs to be invested in the property after the initial sale.
“When you get a fixer-upper, the costs have gone up substantially when buying products for the house,” he said. “We have seen about a 10 to 15 per cent price increase on a lot of things from windows to furnaces. That $50,000 house could have at least $60,000 to $70,000 worth of work that you have to do.”
Whether a potential buyer can actually afford to buy a house isn’t obvious when looking at a list price. Affordability takes into consideration a buyer’s debt, income and mortgage prices. On Wednesday morning, the Bank of Canada announced they were reducing national interest rates to 0.75 per cent, which some analysts say will drop mortgage interest rates by 0.25 per cent.
“Affordability has gotten better,” said McConnachie. “Interest rates have gone down, so people will be paying less on their mortgage payments. It really has gotten better, especially for the people in this area.”
Daoust and McConnachie have a message for buyers: now is the time. Prices will only go up from here, especially considering the improvements in amenities the City of Trail has planned and expansions up at Teck. It is all about supply and demand.
“We expect, as Teck goes ahead with expansion plans over the next couple of years, it is just a matter of time before you are going to see prices spiral up again,” said McConnachie, adding that that price jump isn’t predicted over the next 12 months. “In the next year, I think we are going have a steady market. It will be steady and unexciting.”
Daoust sees things going the same way, but mentions infrastructure and improvement projects around Trail being responsible for the future rise in housing prices.
“We (at Century 21) expect to see a movement up in sales over the next year, simply because that is the direction the market is moving,” he said. “In Trail itself, there are a lot of really exciting things happening over the next year with the bridge, and the library and a number of other things. These are really positive issues to have. I would definitely say that we are going to some slight up movement.”
The least expensive municipality to purchase a house in B.C. is Granisle, near Prince George, where the average home price is just under $50,000. The most expensive is West Vancouver with an average home price of nearly $2.2 million.