Okanagan Real Estate News from Bo Skapski June 2015   
  Real Estate News

Bo Skapski

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

Buying a home can be an emotional roller coaster but when you buy your second home, there’s twice as much to consider!  This month’s first article examines the pros and cons of buying first vs. selling first so that you’ll be able to make a decision that best suits your circumstances.

There are also some BBQ safety tips as well as a few simple ideas for decorating your outdoor space to help you get into the summer spirit.

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 Steady and Driven by Local Buyers 
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported sales activity of all MLS® property types remained strong in May 2015 as confident local buyers continue to drive sales.

While up marginally (1.6 per cent) from the same month last year and rising 12 per cent over April sales, the market showed a nine per cent improvement year-to-date compared to the same five-month period in 2014.

“Despite a minor slowdown in some areas, residential sales in the Okanagan-Shuswap were steady in May and days on market continued to improve,” says Christopher Miller, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the Central Okanagan.

“Overall, spring sales activity has been brisk to date,” Miller reports.  “Well-positioned and well-presented homes are in demand and selling quickly in all markets within our Board area, and the houses sold were on market an average of 82 days during May compared to 106 last year at this time.”

Within OMREB’s three diverse markets – Central Okanagan, North Okanagan, and Shuswap-Revelstoke areas – sales activity and prices, and supply and demand tends to vary among property types at different times and locations, with ups and downs experienced zone-by-zone and month-by-month.

While Alberta home buyers and retirees seem to have been only modestly affected by the recent decline in oil prices and continue to participate in 10 per cent to 15 per cent of home sales in the region – especially in the Central Okanagan -- the North Okanagan and Shuswap markets have experienced some pullback in activity from these segments.

“Single family residential sales in the Central Okanagan remained at the same level as last May while year-to-date totals improved by 15 per cent over the same period last year,” Miller explains.  “Inventory continues to be tight for all types of housing, resulting from high buyer demand and not enough new listings to fill the need.”

In the Shuswap, single family home sales for the month improved by 50 per cent compared to May 2014 and saw a 20 per cent improvement year-to-date as local buyers continue to snap up homes and drain inventory in the high $200,000 to low $300,000 range.  Sales of high-end recreational and retirement properties have stalled with the absence of Alberta buyers.

Despite rallying in April, the North Okanagan saw an 11 per cent slip in single family residential sales during May compared to 2014, resulting in an eight per cent decline year-to-date.  The softer market may be attributed in part to oil patch workers who live in the area and work in Alberta, and are facing employment uncertainty and financial instability.

“It is more important than ever to consult with a REALTOR® in order to fully understand the current residential market, and to look at trends within property types and varying price points in different neighbourhoods,” Miller notes.

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke):  Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during May 2015 improved by 1.6 per cent compared to 2014 (to 965 units from 950) – up 11.8 per cent compared to April (from 863), and up 9.2 per cent year-to-date over 2014 (to 3,412 from 3,126).

Total residential sales for the month rose by 5.6 per cent (899 units board-wide compared to 851 in 2014), while single family home sales were up marginally (1.5 per cent) compared to May 2014 (to 480 from 473).  The average number of days to sell a single family home in May was 82 days Board-wide, compared to 106 days at this time last year.  The 1,867 new listings taken board-wide for the month were down 3.8 per cent compared to the 1,940 listings posted in May 2014, while inventory (active listings) declined 6.0 per cent to 7,452 from 7,925 last year at this time.

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country):  During May, overall sales of all property types in the Central Zone were up minimally (0.5 per cent) compared to 2014 but remained strong at 597 units (up from 594).  Year-to-date sales activity was up 12.6 per cent compared to the same period last year (January through May) -- to 2,259 units from 2,007 in 2014.

Total residential sales for the month improved by 4.6 per cent to 570 units compared to 545 in 2014.  The sale of 291 single family homes remained at the same level as last May (293), while apartment sales were up 25.8 per cent (to 122 from 97), and townhouse sales remained steady at 95 units (same as in 2014).

Average days to sell a single family home in the Central Okanagan in May was down to 56 days compared to 74 in 2014 while days to sell year-to-date averaged 65 days compared to 79 last year at this time.  The 1,104 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a 3.5 per cent dip compared to 1,144 in 2014, and total inventory was reduced by 7.3 per cent to 3,781 units from 4,078 last May.

North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby):  Overall property sales for May in the North Zone edged back 6.2 per cent to 229 units compared to 244 last year at this time.  However, year-to-date sales activity was the same level (742 units) as the first five months in 2014.  Total residential sales dipped 5.4 per cent this past month to 209 units compared to 221 in 2014. Single family home sales slipped 11.4 per cent over last May (to 117 from 132) while the sale of townhouses and apartments remained at the same levels as 2014 (27 townhouses and 14 apartments).

Average days to sell a single family home in the North Okanagan in May was down to 74 days compared to 91 in 2014, while homes sold in 85 days on average year-to-date compared to 111 during the first five months last year.  The 468 new listings taken for the month were up nominally (1.1 per cent) from the 2014 level of 473.  Inventory for May dipped to 2,154 from 2,224 in 2014.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke):  In May, sales activity in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 24.3 per cent compared 2014 (to 138 units from 111) while the year-to-date sales were up 8.8 per cent over the same month last year at 408 units from 375 (January through May).  Total residential unit sales for the month were up 41.2 per cent at 120 units compared to 85 in 2014, while the sale of single family homes improved 50 per cent (to 72 units from 48 in May 2014).

Buying First vs. Selling First - What Makes Sense? 
There are pros and cons to both scenarios so it really depends on your situation.
If you’re a current homeowner who’s thinking about making a move, you’ll have to decide whether to sell your existing home first or risk carrying two homes at once.

Selling first means you’ll know exactly how much you’ll be able to put towards your next home.  It also allows you to present a much stronger offer as it won't be conditional on the sale of your current home.  Finally, selling first helps eliminate the air of desperation that both buyers and agents can sense.

Once your home sells though, the clock starts ticking.  You'll only have a limited amount of time to find the perfect place.  You don't want to overpay or settle for something less than ideal so you may have to be somewhat flexible when it comes to moving dates.

If you’re looking for a very specific home that only comes up occasionally, you may have to buy first and arrange a longer closing to allow time for your current home to sell.  To avoid carrying both homes at once, make sure it’s priced competitively from the start in order to generate maximum interest.

Local market conditions are also an important factor so determine whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market and if prices are rising or falling.  In a buyer’s market where there’s lots of selection, people usually prefer to sell first so they have a bit of breathing room.  In a seller’s market where good homes are hard to find and sell quickly, you may want to buy first in order to lock down your dream home.

There’s really no right answer when it comes to buying first vs. selling first as it depends on your personal circumstances and local market conditions.  Regardless of your situation though, it's important to seek professional advice from a knowledgeable, local real estate agent as market conditions can change rapidly.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you ever need any advice!

Safety Tips for Firing Up the Que 
It’s that time of year when the kitchen starts to edge its way outside!

There’s nothing quite like the mouth-watering aroma of a backyard BBQ but safety is key.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind so that your food sizzles rather than your yard.

  1. Light Up - Always light a gas BBQ with the lid open.  If it doesn't ignite right away, turn the valves off and wait a few minutes before retrying.

  2. Pests' Nests - Insect nests are the number one cause of BBQ fires so make sure you regularly clean out the tubes to prevent blockages.

  3. Keep Back - Position the grill at least ten feet from the house, garage, trees or other combustible materials.  Keep kids and pets well away at all times.

  4. Roll Up Your Sleeves - Make sure apron strings, scarves and other clothes don’t dangle over the grill and always use long handled utensils to avoid burns and splatters.

  5. Turn It Off - Always remember to turn the gas off at both the grill and tank as soon as you’ve finished cooking.

Now that the safety stuff’s out the way, it’s time to think food!  After your steak dinner, why not tantalize your taste buds and delight guests by serving a mouth-watering melody of grilled fruit.  It’s a great way to bring out the fruits’ natural sweetness and the perfect finale to a summer backyard feast!

The Great, Stylish Outdoors 
The trend of extending the indoors outside is as popular as ever!

Extending your indoor space outside will add value, comfort and style to your home.  Here are a few inexpensive ways to transform your yard from dull to dazzling:

  • dress up furniture with bright outdoor pillows
  • hang outdoor solar string lights on tree branches
  • accessorize with candles, lanterns and ornaments
  • add charm with a piece of up-cycled furniture

It’s easy to add some style to your garden without spending a fortune -- just use your imagination!  Not only will you be able to enjoy the great outdoors but it'll also increase your home’s resale value when it comes time to sell.

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