The South Okanagan Real Estate Board is not worried about the market heading into the fall as prices in the Okanagan are forecasted to stay flat. Submitted photo

Flat prices may suggest strong fall for South Okanagan real estate market

Despite decrease in sales last month compared to last year, buyers are still out there

While the province of B.C. saw a decrease in residential unit sales for the month of August as compared to 2017, the South Okanagan Real Estate Board is not worried about the market heading into the fall.

“We didn’t see a decrease as much as Vancouver did, they really went down there and noticed a huge drop. The South Okanagan had about a 90-sale difference for the month of August compared to last year,” said Pamela Hanson, past president of the South Okanagan Real Estate Board.

While the new mortgage rules implemented by the federal government as of Jan. 1 of this year likely played a part in this decrease, Hanson believes there were other factors.

Related: Is Penticton real estate finally stabilizing after years of record heat?

“I think the smoke had something to do with it as well,” said Hanson. “I talked with Cameron Muir, the chief economist with the British Columbia Real Estate Association, and he thinks that prices in the Okanagan will stay flat (rather than decrease in the fall).”

She said this is likely because many people are relocating to the area from Vancouver as well as Alberta. Many seniors also choose to move here for retirement and are not impacted by things like oil prices or mortgage rates.

“(Muir) said that going into the fall, it won’t really be a seller’s market anymore,” said Hanson. “I believe that some of the high prices that we saw over the summer and the corrections on those is because people were trying to get extra (profit) out of their house … so in order to sell their house they had to reduce. So it’s not that prices are coming down, it’s that they should have never been at that level in the first place.”

Hanson said this shouldn’t discourage anyone looking to sell their house as there are still “lots of buyers out there” and listings “receiving multiple offers” and lots of visitors and tourists in the area during the fall.

“Prices didn’t go up in the spring so we’re at a flat market now, so people just have to be competitive about their prices. They have to think about the mortgage rates and the fact that the stress-test (from January) left some buyers disqualified even in August,” said Hanson.

“Cameron (Muir) believes that now everyone is kind of adjusting to the new (mortgage) rules and finding some ways around it, so that might be the sign of a strong fall market,” said Hanson.

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