South Okanagan real estate in a balanced market

Real Estate sales in the South Okanagan are showing a slight upward trend.

Sidhu Jandu puts the finishing touches on a section of the multi-residential project under construction on Government Street by Summerland Homes.

Sidhu Jandu puts the finishing touches on a section of the multi-residential project under construction on Government Street by Summerland Homes.

Flat is the new up, at least for the real estate market in the South Okanagan, where the market is showing signs of a slight upward trend, bucking the predictions for the provincial markets.

According to figures released recently by the B.C. Real Estate Association, residential sales are forecast to edge down 2.2 per cent to 74,800 units this year, before increasing 4.9 per cent to 78,500 units in 2013.

However, in the South Okanagan, real estate sales aren’t showing any sign of giving way.

“In the South Okanagan, the number of units listed is down two per cent. Now, that actually is a good thing, because you want to see a lowering of the listings,” said Karen Amos, president of the South Okanagan Real Estate Board and a realtor with Amos Realty. “Less listings, more sales is essentially what starts happening. Reported sales are up 14 per cent across our real estate board.”

However, Amos adds, less inventory and the increase in sales doesn’t necessarily represent an increase in sale prices.

“Our average sale price has increased by two per cent. That’s better two per cent up than two per cent down,” said Amos. The average number of days it takes to sell a property has decreased slightly, from 134 days to 132 days.

Amos said the signs of a stable market is a good thing.

“I think the balance is tipping in favour of having a balanced market. The Okanagan, north and south, seem to be leading the way in a minor recovery of sales,” she said. “We don’t have the prices that Vancouver has got, but we are definitely seeing a nice levelling of the market and a nice trend to a healthier market.”

The South Okanagan may be in an upward trend, Amos continued.  “It takes three months to have an upward trend, and we are in the second month,” she said. “We have had two months of an upward trend. So if we have another month, which would be the month of June, of going up, then we would be in a really good position.”

Amos said the rise in sales numbers seems to be across the board and not limited to a particular segment of the residential market.

Even commercial sales are up, she said, as well as sales in the mobile market.

“Some of the low end properties have moved and some of the high-end and we are squeezing in the middle,” said Amos. “That is where everything really starts happening. But we are not quite there yet.”

A good gauge of the real estate market, she said, is to check the figures for the rental market.

“If there are a ton of rentals available, the market is likely slow,” she said, adding that recent figures showing a slowly dropping vacancy rate is a good sign for real estate sales.

“We are crawling. We went from not moving at all to now, we’re crawling,” said Amos. “We’re slowly getting there. We’re not there yet, but it’s definitely getting better.”