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

Bo Skapski

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

One of the first things you’ll want to do before you start house hunting is get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This month’s main article examines how pre-approval can save you thousands of dollars and provide you with peace of mind.

The latest hi-tech kitchen gizmos are also revealed as well as a few tips that’ll help keep your online photos safe and secure.

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 Demand Remains Steady 
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported October sales activity of all MLS® property types improved by 15 per cent compared to the same month in 2013.

“While October numbers were lower than the September highs, they were still well ahead of the seasonal average as home sales in the Okanagan-Shuswap market continue to outperform last year,” says Darcy Griffiths, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the North Okanagan.

“Spurred by pent-up demand, robust consumer confidence, and a steadily improving provincial economy, the strong upward year-over-year and month-over-month trajectory in our Board area has continued for seven consecutive months.  We are cautiously optimistic that this trend will carry onward and into 2015 as confidence builds, especially with the variety of positives in the region and their multiplying effect on our market.”

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 Shuswap Zone leads the way this month with a 27 per cent improvement over October 2013, compared to 14 per cent in the Central Okanagan and 12 per cent in the North Okanagan.  The Shuswap Zone also saw a 50 per cent rise in single family residential sales compared to 22 per cent in the Central Okanagan and 6 per cent in the North Okanagan.

“The best value for buyers is still in the Shuswap where there is more supply than demand and prices remain relatively low, despite confident local buyers coming back into the market,” Griffiths notes.  “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.  On the other hand, the North Okanagan market remains stable for both buyers and sellers.”

The price of single family homes is fairly steady in most areas with modest gains seen in some locations where supply is tightening.  On the decline for the past seven months, active listings are currently 12 per cent lower than in October 2013, significantly reducing the selection of entry level homes -- particularly in the Central and North Okanagan where new listings are scarce.

“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, and more importantly, less competition for buyers than in the spring,” Griffiths says.  Griffiths warns that the competition for buyers can still be a challenge for sellers if properties are not priced attractively from the start.  “Being realistic about the market value of your home and 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 October improved by 15.4 per cent compared to 2013 -- to 706 units from 612.  Total residential sales for the month rose 15.2 per cent to 636 units board-wide compared to 552 last October.  Year-to-date, overall sales so far this year improved by 25.5 per cent to 7,466 units compared to 5,949 during the same period in 2013 (January through October).  The 1,131 new listings taken board-wide for the month were up 2.5 per cent compared to the 1,103 listings posted in October 2013 while inventory (active listings) declined 12.2 per cent over this time last year – to 6,752 from 7,689.

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country):  During October, overall sales in the Central Zone were up 14.4 per cent -- to 437 units from 382 in 2013.  Total residential sales for the month improved 13.0 per cent to 400 units compared to 354 last year at this time.  The sale of 203 single family homes was up 22.3 per cent over the 166 in October 2013.  The 759 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a 7.5 per cent increase compared to 706 in 2013, and total inventory was reduced by 15.8 per cent to 3,342 units from 3,970 last October.

North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby):  Overall sales for October in the North Zone improved 11.5 per cent to 165 units compared to 148 units sold last year at this time.  Total residential sales for the month were up 10.5 per cent over last year with 147 units sold compared to 133. Single family home sales (90 units) rose by 5.9 per cent compared to October 2013 (85).  The 234 new listings taken for the month were down 5.7 per cent from the 2013 level of 248.  Inventory for October saw a 7.9 per cent decline to 1,970 from 2,140 last year at this time last year.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke):  During October, overall unit sales in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 26.8 per cent to 104 units compared to 84 in 2013.  Total residential unit sales for the month were up 36.9 per cent over last year at 89 units compared to 65, while the sale of single family homes rose 50.00 per cent over October 2013 (to 45 from 30).  The 136 new listings taken in the Zone were down 8.7 per cent compared to 149 last October.  Overall inventory dipped 9.0 per cent to 1,430 from 1,571 during the same month in 2013.

The Importance of Mortgage Pre-approval 
Mortgage pre-approval should be your first step when house hunting.

You wouldn't shop around for a vacation without having a budget in mind and it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to buying a house.

Readjusting to homes that are less expensive is disappointing and takes all the fun out of the home buying process so it’s important to know where you stand from the outset.

Online qualifying tools only give estimations so it’s best to visit a mortgage specialist for an accurate assessment.  They’ll also lay out the differences between different types of mortgages so you can make an educated decision on which one complements your current and future financial goals.

Most lenders can place a hold on the current interest rate for a certain time period to protect you against increases.  This step can save you thousands of dollars but many buyers will foolishly leave it until the last minute and miss out.  Long-term thinking is key so seek advice and take advantage of any available home buyer programs.

A pre-approval also makes your offer much more attractive which can potentially save you thousands off the purchase price.  In a multiple offer situation, it can even be the difference between getting the home or losing it.  If you still need to make the offer conditional on financing, you can at least attach the pre-approval.

A mortgage pre-approval can save you thousands of dollars and eliminate countless hours of stress during a time when you should be having fun.  Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is easy, there’s no obligation and it doesn’t cost a cent.  If you have any questions about mortgages, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Kitchen Automation Trends 
Your kitchen’s technological gizmos are smarter than ever!

The kitchen is fast becoming one of the most connected rooms in the home.  Here’s a run-down of a few new and exciting products made especially for the heart of the home:

  1. Cool Fridges - Smart refrigerators can tell you when products are about to expire as well as recommend recipes based on its contents.

  2. Smart Walls - Homeowners are installing digital backsplashes instead of traditional tiles.  This hi-tech canvas can connect with other smart systems throughout your home.

  3. Water On Tap - Automatic faucets are becoming commonplace as they’re convenient and more importantly help prevent the spread of bacteria.

  4. Fire It Up - Your smartphone can preheat your smart oven remotely and if you pick a recipe from the recipe bank, it’ll even preheat it to the correct temperature!

  5. Do the Dishes - Smart dishwashers can assess soil levels and adjust themselves to clean in the most efficient manner. You can also switch it on right from your smartphone!

Homeowners are embracing smart home technology and it’s no surprise that the kitchen is a key part of this trend.  Staying on top of innovative home automation will help ensure your home is the smartest one on the block.

Online Photo Security Tips 
The buzz around stolen celebrity pics has everyone on high alert!

Having your photos out there in cyberspace is commonplace these days but how worried should you be?  Here are a few tips if you store photos online:

  1. Be Aware - If your social networking settings are “open” then your photos can be downloaded and stored on anyone’s device.

  2. Password Protection - Use a password that’s hard to crack.  Most sites offer extra layers of security so take the time to research and implement them.

  3. Delete 2.0 - When you delete your photos from your phone, they may still remain online so you’ll need to delete them from your cloud based service as well.

If your photos are uploaded to cloud servers such as iCloud, Dropbox or Google Drive, there’s always a risk of someone accessing them.  If you have something that you don’t wish to share, it’s best to store it on a USB stick.

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