In contrast to national trends, Penticton saw a slight decrease in vacancy rates and availability this year.
The average apartment vacancy rate in Penticton is 4.2 per cent, a decrease from the year prior (4.8 per cent), according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. In the province the average vacancy rate was 2.7 per cent, up from 2.4 per cent a year ago. The data is taken from October 2011 to October 2012 on purpose-built rentals.
“Provincially it was up a bit, pushed by Vancouver and Victoria numbers so Penticton is opposite. There are lots of factors in the rental market,” said Carol Frketich, CMHC’s B.C. regional economist. “It is really not a lot of change, but it is statistically significant change.”
One-bedroom apartments, which are typically the largest category, moved from 4.7 per cent down to 3.6 per cent vacancy. Of note, the number of units went up this year and the vacancy rate came down.
“That usually means the demand side is strong,” said Frketich. “Things that can affect the rental market year-to-year is new units available or if there are units that had been taken out of the survey because they were being renovated or under maintenance and repair and they have come back in.”
This information is backed by a slight increase in the cost of rent per month and the growing amount of inventory. The average rent per month across all apartment types in Penticton increased from $693 to $709 year-over-year, roughly equaling a two per cent increase. Average rental rates in Penticton saw the biggest increase in three or more bedroom apartments. In 2011, CMHC listed those residences as $921 per month and in 2012 that raised to $969 per month.
Frketich said growth in jobs, migration patterns, the relative cost of homeownership compared to renting, and changes in supply, including additions to the secondary rental market, can influence the rental market conditions.
In private row (townhouse) vacancy rates, Penticton saw a slight increase from 9.5 per cent to 11.8 per cent, while two-bedroom vacancy rates in this type of residence dropped by half. A gain was seen in three or more bedrooms, moving from 8.3 per cent to 19.3 per cent. Rental prices on these units also rose from $950 to $978 year-over-year.
Jenny Francisco, senior property manager at Penticton Realty Executives, said their portfolio at the present time is running around a 10 per cent vacancy overall in their inventory of homes, apartments and townhouses.
“Typically in the winter in Penticton vacancy increases. With that summer service sector, I find many people move away when the summer seasonal jobs are done. Then, come February and March, the vacancy rates start to lower again,” she said.
Francisco said the economy could also play a role with vacancies, with condos available for rent because the owners couldn’t sell them.
“There is a lot of availability for potential tenants. We do get a lot of inquiries and we see people moving into town, just at this time of year it slows down a bit. Come January we see positive things of new people moving into town or getting a transfer into town and looking for a place. By March and April we get very busy,” said Francisco.
While the numbers decreased here, finding a place to call home isn’t quite as tough as in bigger centres such as Vancouver where vacancy rates are 1.8 per cent. Vernon saw apartment vacancy rates go from 7.4 per cent in 2011 to 5.8 per cent in 2012. Kelowna increased from three per cent last year to four per cent, which could be due to new stock becoming available.