South Okanagan real estate sales hit a lull

While January real estate sales showed a significant drop in some South Okanagan communities, those losses were balanced by gains in Oliver, Penticton and Kaleden.

Fifty properties were sold in South Okanagan communities last month, compared to 51 in December. But both months are down about 40 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Stable is good. I have noticed that listings are down a little bit, which is good. So we are heading to more of a balanced market,” said Judy Klassen, president of the South Okanagan Real Estate Board.

Prices for homes have also flattened out, which she hopes will encourage consumers to start buying.

“By the time March comes around, I think we will see things start to pick up a bit,” said Klassen, noting this is a slow time of year for sales regardless. “We start to pick up when the snow starts to melt.”

Building permits issued by the City of Penticton show a similar trend. Last year started off with a boom for the city, with building permits issued for nearly $7 million worth of construction, mostly due to two projects, one residential and one industrial

This year, construction is happening at a lower level, with building permits issued for just over $ 1 million worth of projects. Anthony Haddad, director of operations, expects activity to pick up in the spring. Both the Southwind Retirement Village and the Sendaro Canyon single-family development are expected to begin construction this spring.

“Typically we see the statistics increase around springtime, especially for the smaller home renovation projects, which people tend to get underway in the spring,” said Haddad, adding that he hopes the economic investment zones will help drive commercial developments in the industrial area, downtown and hotel/motel tourism areas of the city as they did in 2012.

“It will be an interesting year to see what happens in terms of construction activity in the city,” said Haddad, who suggests the slow start to the year may be due to the change from the HST  back to provincial sales tax, which takes effect on April 1. Developers, he thinks, may be holding their projects for a more favourable tax climate.

“We hear a few people are waiting for that change to take place before applying for building permits in the renovations in the residential in particular,” said Haddad.

Klassen wonders if the same thing is happening in the real estate market.

“That’s one of the possibilities I was considering. That was something we were discussing, that we might see a pick up come April 1 on new homes,” said Klassen. “It appears that way, but I can’t say for certain. I guess we’ll find out in April.”


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