Okanagan Real Estate News from Bo Skapski September 2014   
  Real Estate News

Bo Skapski

Assurance Realty Ltd.
#100 - 1634 Harvey Avenue
Kelowna, BC
250-808-5508 or 1-888-301-2121

When you put your home on the market, it’s important to specify which items come with the house and which don't.  This month’s article highlights the importance of specifying fixtures so that you can avoid any potentially awkward situations.

There are also some basic negotiating tips to help you successfully navigate your way through virtually any situation, as well as a few back-to-school lunchbox ideas that’ll turn your kid’s hunger into happiness.

Thanks so much for checking out this month's newsletter.  Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles, or real estate in general -- it'd be great to hear from you!

Bo Skapski

In this issue...
Okanagan‐Shuswap Housing Market Builds Momentum Over Summer 
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported August sales activity of all MLS® property types improved by 23 per cent compared to the same month in 2013 with buyer activity building significant momentum over the summer.

“Year-over-year and month-over-month, the Okanagan-Shuswap housing market continues to strengthen and has maintained a strong upward sales trend for the past six months as we make steady strides toward recovery,” says Darcy Griffiths, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the North Okanagan.

“More buyer activity in the higher price range reflects the renewed confidence of BC consumers as our provincial economy improves and the return of Alberta buyers as they cash in on booming job opportunities and accelerated market values in their province.”

The Shuswap leads the way this month with a 34 per cent improvement in overall sales over August 2013, compared to 23 per cent in the Central Okanagan, and 15 per cent in the North Okanagan.  The Shuswap Zone also saw a 28 per cent rise in single family residential sales, compared to 19 per cent in the North Okanagan and 14 per cent in the Central Okanagan.

Conditions in the Central Okanagan are now in sellers’ market territory with more demand than supply in some areas – especially in homes priced below $400,000 where inventory is short – and a buyers’ market in the higher price category.  On the other hand, the North Okanagan remains a stable market for both buyers and sellers, while the best value for buyers is in the Shuswap where there is more supply than demand and prices remain relatively low.

New listings have fallen during five of the last six months with total inventory in the Board area down 11 per cent compared to August 2013, resulting in levels similar to those last seen in 2008 when active listings were particularly tight.

“The selection of entry level home choices has been significantly reduced with the drop in listings, so buyers are viewing properties in a higher price range to find better selection.  With strong prices, high demand and low inventory, if you are looking to sell, now is the time to do it before winter sets in,” Griffiths notes.  “However, there are still tremendous opportunities for buyers to get into the market with the price of single family homes fairly stable in most areas, and mortgage rates still at historic lows.”

While a significant increase in purchases of higher priced homes – due in part to the return of Alberta buyers, especially those who choose to live here and work in Alberta with the aid of new direct flights to the oil patch -- has skewed the average price of units sold during August and the past few months, this does not equate to a noticeable increase in the price of single family homes.  Pricing has remained stable with relatively modest gains seen in some locations, especially at the entry level where inventory is scarce.

In order to fully understand the overall picture of the current residential market in our Board area, it is important to look at prices within property types and sale price trends within different price points.  Sales activity within OMREB’s three diverse market areas tends to vary among property types zone-by-zone and month-by-month with ups and downs at different times and locations.

“The competition for buyers can still be a challenge for sellers if their properties are not priced well,” Griffiths warns.  “Being realistic about the market value of your home, setting an attractive list price right out of the gate, and being willing to negotiate for the best offer are the keys to a successful sale.  Now more than ever, it is important to consult with a professional REALTOR®. ”

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke):  Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during August improved by 22.6 per cent compared to 2013 -- to 879 units from 717.  Total residential sales for the month rose 30.9 per cent to 800 units board-wide compared to 647 last August.  The 1,360 new listings taken board-wide for the month were down marginally (0.5 per cent) compared to the 1,367 listings posted in August 2013, while inventory (active listings) declined 11.0 per cent over this time last year – to 7,795 from 8,760.

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country):  During August, overall sales in the Central Zone were up 23.4 per cent -- to 548 units from 444 in 2013.  Total residential sales for the month improved 23.8 per cent to 504 units compared to 407 last year at this time.  The sale of 238 single family homes was up 14.4 per cent over August 2013 (208).  The 825 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a 3.9 per cent drop compared to 858 in 2013, and total inventory was reduced by 15.8 per cent to 3,822 units from 4,540 last August.

North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby):  Overall sales for August in the North Zone improved 14.9 per cent to 208 units compared to 181 units sold last year at this time.  Total residential sales for the month were up 15.2 per cent over last year with 190 units sold compared to 165.  Single family home sales (110 units) were up 25.0 per cent compared to August 2013 (88).  While the 339 new listings taken for the month were up 13.4 per cent from the 2013 level of 299, inventory for August saw a 7.2 per cent decline to 2,251 from 2,428 last year at this time.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke):  During August, overall unit sales in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 33.7 per cent to 123 units compared to 92 in 2013.  Total residential unit sales for the month were up 41.3 per cent over last year at 106 units compared to 75, while the sale of single family homes rose 27.5 per cent over August 2013 (to 51 from 40).  New listings taken in the Zone were down 6.3 per cent compared to last August to 195 units from 208.  Overall inventory dipped 3.8 per cent to 1,715 from 1,783 during the same month in 2013.

Taking Everything but the Kitchen Sink 
Addressing fixtures early on in the real estate process is key.

Imagine the excitement as you walk through your new home a few days before closing!  Your joy however quickly turns sour when you discover the antique chandelier you fell in love with has vanished.

Now imagine you're the sentimental seller packing up your grandmother’s chandelier when the angry buyer calls to confront its removal.  This type of scenario plays out all too often so here are a few tips to help you avoid similar situations:

  1. What’s What - A fixture is usually something that’s attached to the building such as shelving units, ceiling fans and curtain rods.

  2. That’s a Keeper - Personal items (often referred to as chattels) are items such as area rugs, hanging mirrors and curtains.

  3. List It - Real estate law isn’t always black and white in terms of what stays and what goes so make a list in advance of which items you’re including and excluding.

  4. Sentimentality - Remove fixtures with sentimental value before the showing process rather than writing them in as exclusions so the buyer won’t feel like they’re missing out.

  5. Hole in the Wall - There’s usually a bit of damage left over when a fixture’s removed so clarify if you plan on making repairs so you can put the buyer’s mind at ease.

Chattels and fixtures can oftentimes be subjective.  To avoid unnecessary confusion and expensive legal fees, ensure you proactively specify your exclusions as soon as you put your home on the market.  Whether you’re selling or buying, you’ll want a smooth transaction where both parties happily walk away with what they expected.

Negotiating Tips for Everyday Life 
Good negotiation skills will help you get what you want!

Real estate agents use their negotiation skills to help both parties move towards a common goal.  They’re however an important skill that everyone can take advantage of.

The principles are the same whether you’re negotiating a raise with your boss or a curfew with your teenager.  Here are a few techniques to consider:

  1. Cash or Charge? - If your child hates doing their homework, simply ask “Would you like to do your homework before or after dinner?”  Instead of excuses, they'll just pick an option.

  2. Silence is Golden - Don’t say anything after making an offer.  This gives the other party a chance to think but more importantly, it forces them to break the uncomfortable silence.

  3. Feel, Felt, Found - This technique allows you to recognize the other party’s objection, empathize and then offer a solution.  ie. “I know how you feel son, I felt the same way when I had to go to bed early but the next day, I found I had way more energy!"

Negotiating is a huge part of an agent’s skill set so when it comes to buying or selling a home, you’ll want to have an expert on side to help you overcome the various challenges that accompany a real estate deal.  For everyday life, honest communication and the ability to negotiate can turn virtually any circumstance into a win-win situation!

Think Outside the Lunch Box 
A little creativity goes a long way when it comes to school lunches!

It’s frustrating when the lunch you lovingly pack for your kids is either traded or comes home uneaten.  Here are a few fresh ideas that they’ll look forward to:

  1. Mix it Up - Make mini English muffin pizzas, turkey tortillas pinwheels or apple butter bagels.

  2. Keep it Healthy - Use dates or dried fruits in cookies.  Carrot cake and homemade banana bread will be a huge hit so make extra for the freezer!

  3. Make Your Own - Kids love to assemble things so put in the fixings and encourage them to build their own sandwich.

There are so many quick and easy ways to jazz up the contents of a lunch box.  A little creativity goes a long way to ensure it’s not thrown in the trash and replaced with a bag of chips and a can of pop.

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