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

Bo Skapski

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

Setting your price is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when selling your home.  Our first article discusses a service that estimates your home’s current market value.

There’s also some advice on how to keep your furnace in tip-top shape as well as a simple trick that’ll save you from incurring unnecessary data charges when you’re on Facebook.

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 Continues Strong Growth Trend 
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported September sales activity of all MLS® property types improved by 32 per cent compared to the same month in 2013, recording the strongest September unit sales in nine years (since 2005).

“The uptake in summer sales activity in our Board area continued through into September,” says Darcy Griffiths, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the North Okanagan.

“Reflecting the renewed consumer confidence and demand that began to unfold in the spring, the Okanagan-Shuswap housing market has maintained a strong upward year-over-year and month-over-month sales trajectory since April.”

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 Central Okanagan leads the way this month with a 36 per cent improvement in overall sales over September 2013, compared to 25 per cent in the North Okanagan and Shuswap.  The Shuswap Zone also saw a 41 per cent rise in single family residential sales, compared to 32 per cent in the Central Okanagan and 26 per cent in the North Okanagan.

“Conditions in the Central Okanagan are in sellers’ market territory with more demand than supply in some areas – especially in homes priced below $500,000 where inventory is short – and a buyers’ market in the higher price category,” Griffiths notes.  “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.“

While inventory has continued to drop during the past six months and active listings are 13 per cent lower than in September 2013, the Shuswap saw a 42 per cent decline in new listings for the month, the Central Okanagan dipped 5 per cent and the North Okanagan saw a 7 per cent increase.   As a result, the selection of entry level home choices has been significantly reduced, so buyers are viewing properties in a higher price range to find better selection.  

“Despite tightening supply, the price of single family homes is fairly stable in most areas, and mortgage rates remain at historic lows, so there are great opportunities for buyers and sellers to get into the market,” Griffiths says.  “If you are looking to buy and find the right house, make an offer now as fewer new listings are coming on.  If you are looking to sell before winter sets in, now is the time to list while prices are strong, the demand is high and inventory low.”

The distribution of high and low level sales during September appears to have reverted back to a normal pattern after a large number of high-end sales skewed the average unit price upward in August.  Despite the temporary uptick, pricing of single family homes has remained stable with relatively modest gains seen in some locations, especially at the entry level where inventory is scarce.

“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.”

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke):  Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during September improved by 31.8 per cent compared to 2013 -- to 871 units from 661.  Total residential sales for the month rose 32.9 per cent to 781 units board-wide compared to 585 last September.  Year-to-date, overall sales so far this year improved by 26.8 per cent to 6,759 units compared to 5,332 during the same period in 2013 (January through September).  The 1,238 new listings taken board-wide for the month were down 4.6 per cent compared to the 1,297 listings posted in September 2013, while inventory (active listings) declined 12.5 per cent over this time last year – to 7,273 from 8,314.       
Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country):  During September, overall sales in the Central Zone were up 36.3 per cent -- to 552 units from 405 in 2013.  Total residential sales for the month improved 38 per cent to 501 units compared to 363 last year at this time.  The sale of 246 single family homes was up 31.6 per cent over the 187 in September 2013.  The 782 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a 3.7 per cent increase compared to 754 in 2013, and total inventory was reduced by 16.5 per cent to 3,533 units from 4,229 last September.

North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby):  Overall sales for September in the North Zone improved 24.5 per cent to 188 units compared to 151 units sold last year at this time.  Total residential sales for the month were up 27.3 per cent over last year with 168 units sold compared to 132.  Single family home sales (92 units) were up 26.0 per cent compared to September 2013 (73).  While the 306 new listings taken for the month were up 7.0 per cent from the 2013 level of 286, inventory for September saw a 7.5 per cent decline to 2,151 from 2,325 last year at this time.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke):  During September, overall unit sales in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 24.8 per cent to 131 units compared to 105 in 2013.  Total residential unit sales for the month were up 24.4 per cent over last year at 112 units compared to 90, while the sale of single family homes rose 41.3 per cent over September 2013 (to 65 from 46).  The 149 new listings taken in the Zone were down considerably (42.0 per cent) compared to 257 last September.  Overall inventory dipped 9.7 per cent to 1,581 from 1,751 during the same month in 2013.

Receive an Evaluation...On the House 
Your home's a huge asset so you need to keep tabs on its value.

A comparative market analysis (CMA) is a report that estimates your home's value by comparing it to similar properties that have recently sold.
 Online home evaluations are quick and easy but they aren't very accurate as they don't take the finer details into account.  It's better to have an agent do a quick walkthrough so they can see your home firsthand.
 The CMA report, which is usually complimentary and comes with no obligation, is essential to setting a competitive asking price.  The right price is crucial to achieving a successful sale and is also helpful during negotiations as concrete facts will help justify your asking price.
In addition to homes that have recently sold in your area, your agent will research current homes on the market as well as homes that didn’t sell.  It’s important to compare homes that are similar in style, square footage, etc. and to adjust for factors such as finished basements, double car garages and overall condition.
You don’t have to necessarily be ready to sell your home to receive a CMA.  If you’re thinking about renovating your home for instance, your agent can provide you with an idea of how much value certain renovations will add to your home so that you can confidently move forward knowing the facts.

Please get in touch if you’re interested in a CMA to help give you a better idea of what your home’s currently worth. This will in turn help you get top dollar should you decide to sell as incorrectly pricing your home is a mistake that could end up costing you thousands of dollars and months of frustration.

Furnace Tune Ups Not Just a Bunch of Hot Air 
Check your furnace now to save on costly repair bills in the future!

When we're poking around in the basement, we usually pass the furnace without giving it a second thought -- until the weather changes and it’s time to fire it up!

The last thing you want is your heat failing on the coldest night of the year when service calls cost a fortune.  Here are some tips that’ll keep you warm and cozy:

  1. All Clear - Keep the area around the furnace clear of dust and obstructions and never store any kind of flammable material nearby.

  2. Go Pro - An annual check-up by a licensed technician who inspects the motor, fan, burner, heat exchanger and thermostat will help you avoid costly repairs.

  3. Second Glance - Give it a visual inspection from time to time and make sure you clean or replace filters regularly as dirty air filters block air flow causing the system to work overtime.

  4. Seal & Save - In addition to furnace maintenance, seal up air leaks with caulk or weather strips and always open your drapes on sunny days and close them at night to keep the heat in.

Regular furnace maintenance will increase efficiency, reduce energy use and prevent general wear and tear.  Having your furnace serviced on a regular basis is an investment rather than an expense as it'll help you avoid having to deal with massive, unexpected repairs down the road.

Beware of Facebook Video Autoplay 
Have you been racking up excessive data charges lately?

Facebook’s default video autoplay function could cause you to incur extra data charges when you accidently hover over videos in your newsfeed.  Here’s how to turn it off:

  1. iPhone:  Phone Settings -> Facebook -> Settings -> Video

  2. Android:  Facebook Settings -> App Settings -> Video Auto-play

  3. Computer:  Facebook Settings -> Videos -> Auto-Play Videos

Facebook is taking advantage of video’s rapid rise by selling video ads and the more they’re viewed, the more money they make.  It’s therefore important for you to always keep an eye on your settings.

PS Instant Email Notification
Searching for Kelowna BC real estate MLS listings used to involve calling on signs or newspaper ads and stumbling onto open houses. The problem with these methods is that you only see a small percentage of what's on the market. The MLS site is far more effective; however, only limited information is revealed, such as the price and number of bedrooms. As a buyer, you want to know all of the pertinent information such as the address, taxes and so on.
An Easier Way...
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