Spring temperatures are breathing new life into the South Okanagan real estate market, which is returning to normalcy after more than a year of ups and downs.
“We are thankfully starting to see the sunshine come out. The roads are starting to clear. We're starting to see our buyer activity picking up, which is very typical for this time of year,” Association of Interior Realtors President Lyndi Cruickshank said.
“If you go back in history, and you look at sort of those seasonal, up swings, spring is when people start getting busy, whether you're looking at selling your home, or you're looking at buying a home. And that's exactly what we're seeing now.”
The decision to hold off listing properties through the winter is common, as many hunker down throughout the winter.
“When you're a home seller, we all think our home looks better when we hit spring. And honestly, it does. So often people will wait till they start to see the snow go away, to get their home on the market.”
The more balanced market will give buyers more of an opportunity to do their due diligence before purchasing.
“If you're a purchaser, you can find a home that you're looking for. It's a nicer market for a seller if they're looking at being able to make a move. As a realtor, it's a far better market for us because we now have that more balanced market to work in and it's a lot easier for us to make sure that people are making those really good decisions that they need to.”
Home inventory has increased by nearly 30 per cent in new listings.
“We've moved from a place where the number of buyers that we had so far exceeded the capacity we had and the inventory that we had available. That causes its own pressure because when there's a lack of something, there's more of a sense of urgency to move towards it,” Cruickshank said.
“What we've seen is people have more confidence right now in putting their home on the market because they'll be able to find a place to go to.”
In the South Okanagan, the benchmark price for a single-family dwelling dipped down by 9.3 per cent, to $668,500. Townhouses ($551,700) and condominiums ($417,500) increased slightly for February when compared to this same time period last year.
The Okanagan market continues to attract out-of-town buyers too.
“We are seeing the Lower Mainland purchasers back, we're seeing that whether they're coming out for the day, or they're coming back in for their number of days. And I know that there are advisors in my office that are working with out-of-town buyers, and we are actually still seeing multiple offers. So when homes are on the market, and it's the right home for the right people, they're still selling quite quickly.”
However, Cruickshank said the area has never had a significant percentage of foreign or out-of-country buyers.
“It's actually less than one per cent of our market typically. So the foreign buyer ban I don't think has really played a big role, nor do I think it will play much, much of a role in our market here.”
Advice for first-time home buyers remains the same: finding a realtor and figuring out what time to buy is best for you.
“The things that you need to be considering are what's affordable for you. When you find the right home and you can afford it and it feels right, that's when it's the right time. And it shouldn't be anything sooner than that.”