Penticton real estate sales up nearly $50 million this year

Local realtor says out-of-town buyers helping fuel local boom

Property sales in the Penticton area were up by nearly half through the first six months of the year, an increase one local realtor attributes to an influx of out-of-town buyers.

Sales of properties totalled $145.8 million through the first half of 2014, up from $99 million during the same period a year earlier, according to statistics compiled by the South Okanagan Real Estate Board.

Single-family dwellings accounted for most of the sales, with 193 homes worth $75.7 million changing hands so far this year, versus 161 units valued at $55 million in the first six months of 2013.

“We’re seeing a lot of money coming in from Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver and Saskatchewan,” said realtor Steve Thompson.

He believes the visiting purchasers’ wealth is largely derived from the energy sector, but that they’re also enjoying good returns on real estate investments at home.

“The Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Saskatchewan markets are all very, very strong right now, so we’re benefiting from their strength, where they’re seeing some significant capital appreciation, which is turning into a benefit for us,” he explained.

Also working in this region’s favour, the realtor continued, are things like the planned commencement of WestJet Encore’s direct flights between Penticton and Calgary in October, construction of the new jail north of Oliver, and cyclical market forces that are all improving investor confidence.

“I think there’s a great opportunity now for people to get into the market, because the values are still very attractive and we still have record-low interest rates,” Thompson said.

Real estate sales are up all over in the South Okanagan. In Oliver, 103 properties worth $27.9 million changed hands through the first half of the year, up from 73 sales worth $18.9 million for the same period in 2013. And in Summerland, a total of 154 properties sold for $53.8 million, versus 82 sales totalling $28.6 million a year earlier. Construction has also picked up, although not to the same extent.

“The outlook has a little bit of stability — I wouldn’t say a dramatic amount of growth — but I think we have a better sense of stability for the year coming,”  said Mike Brar, president of the South Okanagan branch of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

Through the first six months of 2014, the City of Penticton issued 316 building permits valued at $28.7 million, up from 245 permits worth $19.8 million in the first half of 2013.

In the outlying areas, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen handed out 199 permits for $18.2 million worth of work through June 2014, up from 168 permits for $15.9 million during the same period a year earlier.

RDOS development services director Donna Butler said the $6.8 million worth of permits issued in June was the highest total for that month in seven years, as was also the case in May.