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

Bo Skapski

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

When having an open house, it's important to ensure your home's in perfect order.  This month’s article offers some simple yet effective tips on how to plan a successful open house.

There are also a few ideas to help you easily kick start conversations as well as a list of important items that you should always have in your first aid kit.

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...
Sales Activity Driven by Strong Consumer Confidence 
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported sales activity of all MLS® property types in August 2015 remained steady through a typically slow summer month and despite smoky conditions -- posting the strongest month for August since 2007.
While the housing market is being underpinned by rock bottom mortgage interest rates, a noticeable lift in consumer confidence in our province has propelled the market to elevated activity.  Smoky conditions due to wild fires may have had some impact on viewings but have not deterred purchases by people who are choosing to buy now.

“Bolstered by high consumer confidence as local employment and economic conditions improve, demand for homes in the Okanagan-Shuswap is strong and keeping pace with other markets in BC,” says Christopher Miller, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the Central Okanagan.

“Most sectors in our Board area saw a very active summer and we are optimistic this upward trend will continue into the fall with solid sales activity in September and October,” Miller notes.

“Now is the time to list as inventory continues to decline.  Single family homes within our Board area are selling within 88 days compared to 104 days on market year-to-date during the same eight-month period in 2014.”

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.

In the Shuswap, purchases by locals, retirees and those looking for a lifestyle change have continued on an upward climb this year after lagging sales in 2014.  Single family home sales for the month rose 19 per cent compared to August 2014 and saw a 16 per cent improvement year-to-date.

Some segments in the Central Okanagan are experiencing shortages and moving into sellers’ market conditions.  Single family residential sales improved by 12 per cent over last August while year-to-date totals improved by 11 per cent over the same time period in 2014 (January through August).

The North Okanagan reported a 19 per cent decline in single family residential sales during August and a 9 per cent decline year-to-date but on the heels of a vigorous run up of sales activity last year that outpaced the two other zones.

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

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke):  Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during August 2015 showed a nominal increase (0.6 per cent) compared to 2014 (to 882 units from 877) but was up 5.5 per cent year-to-date over 2014 (to 6,217 from 5,891).

Board-wide, total residential sales for the month were the same as last year at 798 units while single family home sales were up 4.3 per cent compared to August 2014 (to 417 from 399).

The average number of days to sell a single family home in August was at 93 days board-wide, compared to 91 days at this time last year.  Year-to-date (January through August), homes are selling within 88 days compared to 104 days during the same period in 2014.

The 1,344 new listings taken board-wide for the month were down 1.2 per cent compared to the 1,360 listings posted in August 2014, while inventory (active listings) declined 6.5 per cent to 7,287 from 7,795 last year at this time.

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country):  During August, overall sales of all property types in the Central Zone were up 8.2 per cent with 591 units compared to 546 in 2014.  However, year-to-date sales activity improved by 9.3 per cent compared to the same period last year (January through August) to 4,088 units from 3,741 in 2014.

Total residential sales for the month improved by 8.4 per cent at 545 units compared to 503 in 2014, and by 11.6 per cent year-to-date (to 3,820 from 3,424).  The sale of 267 single family homes rose 12.2 per cent over last August (238) and improved 11.0 per cent year-to-date (to 1,961 from 1,766).

Average days to sell a single family home in the Central Okanagan in August was down to 64 days compared to 66 in 2014 while days to sell year-to-date (January through August) averaged 64 days compared to 74 last year at this time.

The 831 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month rose slightly (0.7 per cent) compared to 825 in 2014, while total inventory was reduced by 7.0 per cent to 3,555 units from 3,822 last August.

North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby):  Overall property sales for August in the North Zone declined 21.2 per cent to 164 units compared to 208 last year at this time.  Sales activity year-to-date saw a 5.3 per cent dip to 1,332 units compared to 1,406 during the first eight months of 2014.

Total residential sales were down 22.1 per cent this past month to 148 units compared to 190 in 2014, and dipped by 4.4 per cent year-to-date (to 1,204 from 1,260).  Single family home sales saw a 19.1 per cent drop over last August (to 89 from 110) and slipped 8.9 per cent year-to-date (to 666 from 731).

Average days to sell a single family home in the North Okanagan in August was at 102 days compared to 100 in 2014 while homes sold in 85 days on average year-to-date compared to 103 during the first eight months last year.

The 322 new listings taken for the month saw a 5.3 per cent decline over the 2014 level of 340.  Inventory for August dipped 2.9 per cent to 2,185 from 2,251 in 2014.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke):  In August, sales activity for all property types in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 3.3 per cent over 2014 (at 127 units compared to 123), while the year-to-date sales were up 6.8 per cent over the same period last year at 791 units from 741 (January through August).  Total residential unit sales for the month were the same as August 2014 at 105 units, and up 9.3 per cent year-to-date (to 670 from 613).  The sale of single family homes improved 19.6 per cent (to 61 units from 51 last year) and by 16.3 per cent year-to-date (to 379 from 326) compared to August 2014.

The average of 113 days to sell a single family home in the Shuswap was up compared to 107 in 2014 while homes have sold in 116 days on average year-to-date compared to 137 during the same time period last year.

The 191 new listings taken in the Zone dipped marginally (1.6 per cent) compared to 194 in August 2014.  Overall inventory was down 10.0 per cent to 1,543 from 1,715 last year at this time.

How to Plan a Successful Open House 
It’s critical that your home has the WOW factor during your open house!

Despite the popularity of online virtual tours, open houses are still important as buyers like to get a “feel” for the home in person.  Here are a few open house tips that are essential for success:

  1. De-Clutter - Remove personal items like photos and souvenirs and put away small kitchen appliances to increase counter space.

  2. Deep Clean - Thoroughly clean your home from top to bottom.  Serious buyers will look everywhere including under the kitchen sink and inside closets so make sure everything's in order.

  3. Lighten Up - Wash the windows and open up the blinds to let in as much natural light as possible.  Flowers also help brighten things up and they’re a great way to draw attention to a feature such as a bay window.

  4. Hype Up the Curb Appeal - Buyers are looking for a tranquil outdoor setting to relax in so cut the grass and pick up the kid's toys.  A few planters on the porch will also boost your home’s curb appeal.

  5. The Nose Knows - Baking just before an open house will leave a pleasant aroma that'll remind people they’re in a home rather than just a house.  You can even leave some out for your visitors!

  6. Hide Pet Clutter - Pets and their associated smells will be off-putting to many buyers.  Put away pet dishes, toys, beds, etc. before your open house and if possible, remove Fido and Fluffy.

  7. Seasonal Pics - If your open house occurs during the winter, make sure to showcase your garden by displaying some photos during the summer when your home’s at its best.

The day of your open house should find your home sparkling clean and completely de-cluttered.  It’s always best if the homeowners aren’t present during the open house as potential buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home and be able to voice concerns openly.

The Gift of the Gab 
Starting conversations with complete strangers can sometimes be difficult.

Making conversation is easier than you probably think but it can be daunting if you can't think of anything to say or you fear awkward silences.  Here are a few helpful tips that'll have you chatting up a storm in no time:

  1. Listen Actively - Rather than worrying about how to respond, listen to what others are saying so you’ll be able to respond naturally.

  2. Weather the Storm - We may think it’s boring to start a conversation with small talk such as the weather but it can relax you enough to trigger a more meaningful conversation.

  3. Find Commonalities - Try and find similarities so that you can build upon them.  It might be as simple as the fact you’re at the same party or live in the same area.

  4. Be Open Ended - Ask questions as people love to talk about themselves but try to always make sure that they’re open ended questions.

  5. You Name It - When you’re introduced to someone, use their name right away as people love to hear their name and by saying it out loud, you’re more likely to remember it.

  6. Smile and Be Positive - Most individuals are drawn to positive people so watch your body language, smile and keep your conversation upbeat.  Don’t fill them in on your woes and worries!

Making conversation is actually really easy -- you just need the confidence to pull it off.  Instead of awkwardly fidgeting when you’re introduced to someone, just remember to relax, listen carefully so you can try to find something in common with them and above all, be yourself!

Medical Must-Haves 
A well-stocked first aid kit shouldn’t be an afterthought.

If you’re faced with an emergency, you need to be confident that your first aid kit has everything you need.  Here are some of the most important items your first aid kit should include:

  • a first aid manual
  • an assortment of bandages & sterile gauze pads
  • cleansing agent/soap/antiseptic
  • adhesive tape
  • instant ice packs
  • safety pins, scissors and tweezers
  • an epi-pen

Store your first aid kit in a dry place and always replace used or outdated items straight away.  It’s also important to review the first aid manual so you’ll know how to use the contents should the need ever arise.

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