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

Bo Skapski

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

If you're applying for a mortgage, it's important that you have a healthy credit score.  This month’s article has some tips on how to keep your credit in top shape.

There are also a few essential tips on how to properly secure your smartphone as well as a really simple yet delicious barbeque recipe that’ll appeal to almost everyone!

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...
Second Strongest July on Record for Okanagan‐Shuswap Market 
The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported sales activity of all MLS® property types in July 2015 as the second strongest July on record for residential sales since 1981.

Bucking the national trend, the British Columbia economy is growing and constantly improving.  Low interest rates and ongoing job growth continue to support rising consumer confidence and home purchases in most markets in the province.

“Market conditions in the Okanagan-Shuswap remain steady,” says Christopher Miller, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the Central Okanagan.  “Strong consumer demand was robust last month and pushed home sales to near record levels for the month of July – second only to last year at this time.”

Lack of inventory for some home types is putting upward pressure on prices in some communities, Miller notes.  “The number of active listings in our Board area continues to decline -- down 6 per cent compared to last year at this time -- with some segments experiencing shortages and moving from balanced to sellers’ market conditions.”

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 the recreation markets in the Shuswap and North Okanagan are seeing little activity, demographic realities are superseding the impact of weakness in the oil and gas sector as purchases by retirees and those looking for a lifestyle change have remained on an upward trajectory board-wide.

“OMREB’s June 2015 Buyers’ Survey results show that 45 per cent of buyers were empty nesters, retirees or couples without children who are moving up or downsizing,” Miller reports.  “It is interesting to note that a consistent 18 per cent of buyers were coming from Alberta, while 55 per cent were from within our Board area, 10 per cent moved from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, and 9 per cent from other areas of the province.”

In the Shuswap, single family home sales for the month rose 11 per cent compared to July 2014 and saw a 16 per cent improvement year-to-date.  Single family residential sales in the Central Okanagan remained level with last July -- rising a nominal 1.1 per cent -- while year-to-date totals improved by 11 per cent over the same time period last year.

After a number of soft months, the North Okanagan reported a two per cent improvement in single family residential sales during July compared to last year and recorded a 7 per cent decline year-to-date.

“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 notes.

Board-wide (Peachland to Revelstoke):  Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during July 2015 dipped slightly (0.3 per cent) compared to 2014 (to 924 units from 927) but was up 6.5 per cent year-to-date over 2014 (to 5,339 from 5,014).

Board-wide, total residential sales for the month were similar to last year at 844 units compared to 846 in 2014, while single family home sales were up 2.5 per cent compared to July 2014 (to 458 from 447).

The average number of days to sell a single family home in July was at 88 days board-wide, compared to 90 days at this time last year.  Year-to-date (January through July), homes are selling within 87 days compared to 107 days during the same period in 2014.

The 1,494 new listings taken board-wide for the month were down 4.2 per cent compared to the 1,559 listings posted in July 2014, while inventory (active listings) declined 6.3 per cent to 7,471 from 7,976 last year at this time.

Central Zone (Peachland to Lake Country):  During July, overall sales of all property types in the Central Zone dipped slightly (0.9 per cent) with 577 units compared to 582 in 2014. However, year-to-date sales activity improved by 9.5 per cent compared to the same period last year (January through July) to 3,498 units from 3,195 in 2014.

Total residential sales for the month remained steady at 540 units compared to 542 in 2014, but improved by 12.2 per cent year-to-date (to 3,276 from 2,921). The sale of 282 single family homes rose 1.1 per cent over last July (279) but improved 10.9 per cent year-to-date (to 1,695 from 1,528).

Average days to sell a single family home in the Central Okanagan in June was down to 64 days compared to 73 in 2014, while days to sell year-to-date averaged 64 days compared to 75 last year at this time.

The 924 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month dipped slightly (1.6 per cent) compared to 939 in 2014, while total inventory was reduced by 6.5 per cent to 3,710 units from 3,969 last July.

North Zone (Predator Ridge to Enderby):  Overall property sales for July in the North Zone edged back 6.7 per cent to 208 units compared to 223 last year at this time.  Year-to-date, sales activity saw a 2.3 per cent decline to 1,171 units compared to 1,198 during the first seven months of 2014.

Total residential sales slipped 4.0 per cent this past month to 191 units compared to 199 in 2014, and dipped by 1.1 per cent year-to-date (to 1,058 from 1,070).  Single family home sales saw a 1.8 per cent uptick over last July (to 115 from 113), but declined 6.7 per cent year-to-date (to 579 from 621).

Average days to sell a single family home in the North Okanagan in July was down to 86 days compared to 95 in 2014, while homes sold in 82 days on average year-to-date compared to 103 during the first seven months last year.

The 348 new listings taken for the month saw a 5.7 per cent decline over the 2014 level of 369.  Inventory for July dipped 3.6 per cent to 2,178 from 2,260 in 2014.

Shuswap Zone (Salmon Arm to Revelstoke):  In July, sales activity in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 11.5 per cent over 2014 (at 136 units compared to 122), while the year-to-date sales were up 7.4 per cent over the same period last year at 664 units from 618 (January through July).

Total residential unit sales for the month were up 7.6 per cent over July 2014 (to 113 units from 105) and 11.4 per cent year-to-date (to 565 from 507).  The sale of single family homes improved 10.9 per cent (to 61 units from 55 last year) for the month and by 15.6 per cent year-to-date (to 318 from 275) compared to 2014.

The average of 114 days to sell a single family home in the Shuswap was up in July compared to 103 in 2014, while homes have sold in 116 days on average year-to-date compared to 143 during the first seven months of 2014.

The 221 new listings taken in the Zone were down 12.0 per cent compared to 251 in July 2014.  Overall inventory dipped 9.2 per cent to 1,579 from 1,739 last year at this time.

Give Yourself Some Credit 
It’s essential to know your credit score before you start house hunting.

The home of your dreams has finally hit the market!  You anticipate it’ll be easy to get a mortgage but if your credit's not in great shape, your dream home may remain just a dream.

It's important to have a clear understanding of your credit score ahead of time as it'll make you more attractive to financial institutions which means you'll enjoy better rates and terms that over time can save you thousands!  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Clean It Up - If there's a blemish or two on your report, try to clean it up ahead of time.

  2. Credit Balance - It’s important to show you’re responsible so don't continuously max out your cards.

  3. Consistency - Lenders look for a long track record of consistent payments.  Time is all that will help so get started today!

  4. Payment History - It may not be a big deal if you’ve missed the odd payment but if you’re consistently late, it’ll raise a red flag.

  5. Number of Applications - The number of times you’ve applied for credit can affect your rating so don't apply for credit unless you plan on using it.

  6. How Much You Owe - Lenders don’t want to lend to someone with a whack of financial obligations so try to pay off smaller debts and avoid any big credit charges such as a car purchase before buying a home.

Knowledge is power so find out where you stand ahead of time, even if you don’t think there’s an issue.  If you know your credit’s in need of repair, start fixing it right away as a good credit rating will entitle you to preferred rates which can amount to thousands in interest savings.  Please don't hesitate to get in touch for more information on how to perfect your credit rating.

Smart Security for Smartphones 
Mobile devices are major targets for today’s savvy cybercriminals.

Smartphones contain huge amounts of sensitive data yet many of us don’t protect them in the same way we do our computers.  From locking your phone to installing security apps here’s what you need to know:

  1. Screen Lock - Always protect your phone with a password.

  2. Back Up - Regularly back up your data including contacts, music, photos and important documents.

  3. Stay Updated - Download software updates as they often contain important security patches.

  4. Cyber Attacks - Exercise caution when opening links and make sure to download an anti-virus app.

  5. Don’t Be Too Appy - Only download apps from reliable sources and take the time to read the permissions.

  6. Toothache - Bluetooth can expose your phone to attacks so turn it off when you’re not using it.

  7. Delete It - Always delete personal information before recycling your old phone.

Threats such as loss, theft and cyber-attacks are common issues associated with smartphones so it’s important to regularly take steps to proactively protect them.  If you do, your smartphone will truly be smart instead of naive.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese 
Are you looking for something new to throw on the grill?

If so, we’ve got just the thing – portobello mushrooms with savory goat cheese!  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 large portobello mushrooms
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • fresh chives, chopped

  1. Remove the stems and gills before drizzling olive oil over both sides of the mushrooms.
  2. Grill top side down on medium for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the goat cheese, basil and garlic and spoon the mixture into each mushroom.
  4. Grill cheese side up for another 5 minutes.  Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Portobello mushrooms are considered to be the steaks of the mushroom family so this is a great dish for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.  Enjoy!

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