April 3, 2014

Okanagan-Shuswap Housing Market Bounces Back in March

Kelowna, BC –

The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) reported March sales activity of all MLS® property types was up 28% compared to the same month in 2013 – rallying after a pull-back in February.

"The Okanagan-Shuswap housing market bounced back during March from somewhat dampened results in February when sales were up 8% over 2013 compared to January’s 30% year-over-year gains," says Darcy Griffiths, OMREB President and active REALTOR® in the North Okanagan.

"During the past year, the local market has maintained a slow but steady upward trajectory and experienced a moderate recovery from the cyclically low sales levels at the start of 2013. While other BC markets have been on a downward trend for the past four months, all three OMREB zones have seen modest to strong improvement in sales for various property types. "

Griffiths adds, "It is encouraging to note that the board-wide demand for single family homes showed marked improvement during the month of March -- increasing by 40% year-over-year to 321 units from 231 in 2013 -- especially since sales of single family residences declined considerably in February compared to this time last year."

The North Okanagan saw a 73% year-over-year increase in single family home sales after a 20% decline in February, while the Shuswap reported a 48% improvement following a 13% drop, and the Central Okanagan posted a 26% gain over last year after a 5% dip the month before.

"Moving into spring, we are hopeful that activity will pick up as the weather improves and buyers are spurred by the drop in long-term mortgage rates," says Griffiths. "Considering that all aspects favour buyers, now is the time to get into the market while there is still a good selection of properties to choose from. Despite a declining inventory, prices remain stable with more balanced market conditions, and low interest rates continue to be available."

The competition for buyers can be a challenge for sellers so proper pricing remains critical, Griffiths maintains. "Market conscious and competitive home sellers are sharpening their pencils and seeing results. Being realistic about the market value of your home, setting an attractive list price right out of the gate and willing to negotiate for the best offer are the keys to a successful sale."

Sales activity tends to vary among property types zone-by-zone and month-by-month with ups and downs at different times and locations within OMREB’s three diverse market areas. It is important to look at prices within property types and sale price trends within different price points in order to fully understand the overall picture of the current residential market in our Board area.


(Peachland to Revelstoke):

Overall sales of all property types reported in OMREB’s Board area during March improved by 28.0% compared to 2013 -- to 621 units from 485. Total residential sales for the month rose 27% to 554 units board-wide compared to 436 last March -- up 79% compared to 309 last month (February 2014).

The 1,517 new listings taken board-wide for the month were down 6.8% compared to the 1,627 listings posted in March 2013, while inventory (active listings) was down 9.2% over this time last year – to 7,217 from 7,950.

Central Zone

(Peachland to Lake Country):

During March, overall sales in the Central Zone were up 22.9% to 403 units from 328 in 2013. Total residential sales for the month improved 20.8% to 360 units compared to 298 last year at this time. The sale of single family homes was up 26.0% over March 2013 (to 194 from 154), and days to sell dropped to 70 in March compared to 99 last year.

The 939 new listings taken in the Central Okanagan during the month saw a 3.7% dip compared to 975 in 2013, and total inventory was reduced by 10.5% to 3,864 units from 4,316 last March.

North Zone

(Predator Ridge to Enderby):

Overall sales for March in the North Zone improved 32.4% to 143 units compared to 108 units sold last year at this time. Total residential sales for the month were up 36.1% over last year with 132 units sold compared to 97. Single family home sales (90 units) were up 73.1% compared to March 2013 (52), and days to sell dipped to 117 days from 132 last year.

While the 363 new listings taken for the month were down 12.1% from the 2013 level of 413, inventory for March saw a 9.4% drop to 1,918 from 2,117 last year.
Shuswap Zone

(Salmon Arm to Revelstoke):

During March, overall unit sales in the Shuswap-Revelstoke Zone improved by 56.3% to 75 units compared to 48 in 2013. Total residential unit sales for the month were up 51.2% over last year at 62 units compared to 41. While the sale of single family homes jumped 48.0% over March 2013 (to 37 from 25), days to sell rose to 181 compared to 139 days last year at this time.

New listings taken in the Zone were down 9.8% compared to last March -- to 213 units from 236. Overall inventory dipped 5.4% to 1,428 from 1,510 during the same month in 2013.

How REALTORS® can help when buying or selling a home:

•BUYING OR SELLING – Home values vary based on type and location:

It is important to consult with a REALTOR® about how your property type is currently faring locally, and how it compares to similar listings in your particular neighbourhood.

•SELLING – Pricing is crucial when listing your home: Serious sellers recognize that their properties must be priced within the current market conditions. Homes that are priced well are the ones that are selling, as has been evident this year.

•NEGOTIATING – For a successful purchase and sale: The professional negotiation skills of a REALTOR® bring buyers and sellers together for a successful sale.


Monthly Sales statistics are based on the sales reported by real estate offices on or before the last day of the month. Sales not reported by month end and collapsed sales are reflected in the subsequent month’s statistics.


Buyer Type (Family Dynamic): 26.8% Empty Nester/Retired (up from 20.1% in August)** 25.3% Two Parent Family/Children (same as August) 19.9% Couple without Children (down from 23.4%) 14.2% Single Male (up from 11.2%)** 10.7% Single Female (down from 13.8%) 3.2% Single Parent with Children (down from 4.5%)

** In September, there were more purchases by empty nesters-retirees and single males, and by single females and single parent families, while all other categories saw decreases or stayed the same.

Moving From: 46.9% from Within OMREB Board Area  (down from 50.7% in August) 21.7% from Alberta (same as August) 12.0% from Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island  (up from 9.0%)*** 9.7% from Other Areas in BC  (down from 10.8%) 5.0% from Saskatchewan/Manitoba (up from 3.4%)*** 3.1% from Eastern Canada/Maritimes (up from 1.5%)*** 1.6% from Outside Canada  (up from 1.1%)*** 0% from NWT/Yukon (down from 1.9%)

Brought to you by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OMREB


The one thing about participating in the real estate market that confounds most consumers is the terminology and jargon that must be learned. But, as with any business, in order to be successful as a buyer or seller, it is necessary to become familiar with certain concepts and words.

The real estate business is somewhat unique in that it is not confined to one particular set of dealings. Instead, it encompasses a number of professions: financial, legal, governmental, building trades, and of course, real estate itself.

So, from A for amortization to Z for zoning regulations, here is a quick run-through of some the important real estate terminology you'll encounter:

Amortization: The number of years it will take to pay off the entire amount of a mortgage. In Ontario, most mortgages are amortized over 25 years.

Appraisal: An estimate of a property's market value. This is used by lenders to determine the amount of your mortgage.

Assessment: The value of a property set by the local municipality. The assessment is used to calculate your property tax.

Assumable Mortgage: A mortgage held on a property by a seller that can be taken over by the buyer. The buyer then assumes responsibility for making payments. An assumable mortgage can make a property more attractive to potential buyers.

Blended Mortgage Payments: Equal or regular mortgage payments consisting of both a principal and an interest component.

Broker: A real estate Professioal licensed to facilitate the sale, lease or exchange of a property for a Brokerage.

Bridge Financing: Money borrowed against a homeowner's equity in a property (usually for a short term) to help finance the purchase of another property or to make improvements to a property being sold.

Buy-down: A situation where the seller reduces the interest rate on a mortgage by paying the difference between the reduced rate and market rate directly to the lender. Or, the difference can be paid to the purchaser in one lump sum or monthly instalments. A buy-down can make a property more attractive to potential buyers.

Closed Mortgage: A mortgage that cannot be prepaid, renegotiated or refinanced during its term without significant penalties.

Conventional Mortgage: A first mortgage issued for up to 75 per cent of the property's appraised value or purchase price, whichever is lower.

Debt Service Ratio: The percentage of a borrower's gross income that can be used for housing costs (including mortgage payments and taxes). This is used to determine the amount of monthly mortgage payment the borrower can afford.

Easement: A legal right to use or cross (right of way) another person's land for limited purpose. A utility's right to run wires or lay pipe across a property is a common example.

Encroachment: An intrusion onto an adjoining property. A neighbour's fence, shed or overhanging roof line that partially or fully intrudes onto your property are examples.

First Mortgage: The first security registered on a property. Additional mortgages secured against the property are termed 'secondary'.

High-Ratio Mortgage: A mortgage for more than 75 per cent of a property's appraised value or purchase price.

Listing Agreement: The contract between the listing broker and an owner, authorizing the Realtor to facilitate the sale or lease of a property.

Mortgage: A contract between a borrower and a lender where the borrower pledges a property as security to guarantee repayment of the mortgage debt.

Mortgage Term: The length of time a lender will loan mortgage funds to a borrower. Most terms run from six months to five years, after which the borrower will either pay off the balance or renegotiate the mortgage for another term. Payments are calculated using the interest rate offered for the term, the amount of the mortgage, and the amortization period.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS): A comprehensive system for relaying information to Realtors about properties for sale.

Open Mortgage: A mortgage that can be prepaid or renegotiated at any time and in any amount without penalty.

Partially Open Mortgage: A mortgage that allows the borrower to pre-pay a specific portion of the mortgage principal at certain times with or without penalty.

Realtor: A trademarked name describing real estate professionals who are members of a local real estate board and the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Transfer Taxes: Payment to the provincial government for transferring property from the seller to the buyer.

Vendor Take-Back Mortgage: A situation where sellers use their equity in a property to provide some or all of the mortgage financing in order to sell the property.

Zoning Regulations: Strict guidelines set and enforced by municipal governments regulating how a property may or may not be used.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


A home inspection prior to purchasing a home or condominium can bring peace of mind when you sign the sales contract. Knowing what to expect both inside and out will help you make an informed decision about the value of the home and the future upkeep.

A home inspection accomplishes two important goals. First, it gives you a chance to determine the condition of the house, its structural soundness, and the condition of its mechanical systems. Second, it brings any problems to the seller's attention at a time when they can be resolved before closing a sale.

If you sign a contract before inspection, consider including a clause that the sale is contingent upon a satisfactory structural inspection, and specify when the inspection is to be carried out. That way, you are protected.

A comprehensive inspection includes a visual examination of the structure from top to bottom, including the heating, air conditioning systems, the interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement and visible structure.

Following the examination, the inspector will provide a report that not only points out possible defects or areas of concerns, but also the positive aspects of the structure as well as the type of maintenance that will be necessary to keep the home in good shape.

Even the most experienced homeowners lack the knowledge and expertise of a professional inspection firm. For example, watermarks in the basement may indicate a chronic seepage problem, or simply may be a result of a single incident.

A professional assessment will provide complete information about the condition of the property you are considering and will help avoid any unpleasant surprises after the sale. In addition, a home inspector can remain totally objective, while you as a prospective homebuyer may be emotionally involved.

The inspection fee for a typical single-family house can vary depending upon the geographic area. The particular features of the home such as size, age and special structures will be taken into consideration. A decision to have a home inspected is a good investment. You might save many times the cost of inspection by being aware of defects, maintenance requirements, and upgrading requirements.

Good decorating should not sell you on a house. Remember, you're also buying structural and mechanical systems. Walk through a house twice before you hire an inspector. The first time, look at the rooms, the floor plan, and envision your own decorating ideas for the house. The second time, go back and look at the condition of the walls, doors, appliance, and plumbing. If the home still looks good after two visits and you're getting serious about the purchase, hire an inspector.

Inspectors should be licensed in building-related fields; architects, contractors, and structural engineers are good examples. When interviewing a potential home inspection firm, carefully inquire about the specifics of their work and company. Ask how long they have been in business, ask for references from previous customers. Find out what type of insurance they carry and do they guarantee inspections?

A home inspection usually lasts about three hours. Professional inspection companies will be happy to answer all your questions. Avoid firms that issue only a verbal report. The report should be in narrative form, not just a checklist of items inspected. The home inspector should also issue a written report with accurate cost estimates for any major defects discovered during the inspection. You may find it valuable to accompany the inspector as he goes through the house.

Property inspections are not limited to residential properties. Many inspectors help homeowners with analysis and solutions to specific problems such as energy conservation, wet basements or cracked foundations. Inspectors also inspect work upon completion to ensure that a contract has been properly fulfilled.

If you are considering purchasing a home, the Canadian Real Estate Association advises that you invest in an inspection by a reputable and qualified inspection firm. Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make. Know what you are buying and what your future upkeep obligations will be.

For more information regarding home inspections contact the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors BC at

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


So you've decided you want to stop paying rent and buy your first home. You're not alone. With interest rates at their lowest in decades, many people have discovered that mortgage payments can be significantly lower or at least comparable to the rent they are currently paying.

Making the decision to become a homeowner is the easy part since buying a home is a great investment in your future. For many people, it's no problem to keep up the monthly mortgage payments and other costs associated with home ownership. But what usually holds first time buyers back is the initial down payment required to obtain a mortgage.

How much can you afford?

The first thing you need to determine is how much house can you realistically afford? It's a good idea to talk to a Realtor for help in this area. A Realtor is skilled at helping people make their dreams of home ownership come true. He or she knows how to assist you in assessing your needs and wants and can then match them with homes in your price range. As well, he or she will help you understand property financing, taxes, insurance and the process you will go through as a first time buyer to complete a real estate transaction.

Your Realtor can also offer advice on ways to save your down payment faster. He or she will likely suggest you take advantage of government programs such as an RRSP loan or the Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plan (OHOSP). Another option your Realtor can help you explore is a high ratio mortgage. A high ratio mortgage requires a smaller down payment than a conventional mortgage because it is insured by the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation). Talk to your Realtor for details on how these programs work.

Once you know your price range and have a down payment plan in the works, your Realtor will work with you to find the "home of your dreams." For most people, their first home is more modest than the true home of their dreams, but it is a start and will be much more affordable.

When you have found the right home, your Realtor will be there to negotiate on your behalf to get the best purchase price possible. He or she will make sure your interests are covered in the purchase and sale agreement and will help with all the details required to complete the transaction.

A Realtor's knowledge, expertise and negotiating skills will ensure your first time home buying experience is a dream come true and not a nightmare.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


When buying a home, the neighbourhood you select will not only play a pivotal role in your family's life, but in the resale value of the property.

One person's ideal neighbourhood however may vary greatly from another's. But, regardless, there are some needs and wants that generally do not change. The distance from your new home to schools, churches and shopping, for example, will not only affect how you and your family settle into your new home, it will also draw or turn off a perspective buyer.

A good first step is to enlist the services of a Realtor who works in the area you are thinking of moving. Realtors are very familiar with the communities in which they work and can answer many of the questions you will develop during your search.

Check the lifestyle

A home is a part of a larger community. And some are more desirable than others. Some communities are geared more to young families, others to older adults and still others to singles or an eclectic mix of residents.

Never buy in an unfamiliar community or neighbourhood unless you have spent some time there both during the week and on weekends, day and night. Drive and walk around. Talk to store owners and people you meet on the street. Ask what they think of the neighbourhood.

If there are vacant tracts of land where you plan to buy, check with local authorities to see what the proposed land use might be. The last thing most homeowners want is the development of a mall or a high-rise office building across the road from their newly-purchased property.

Don't let particular things in a home that appeal to you override its location and potential subsequent resale value. When analyzing a potential property, ask yourself if you can imagine living -- not just in this home -- but in this neighbourhood for quite a long time.

Remember that someday you may have to sell your home to someone else and things that may not be important to you -- such as distance to schools, shopping, doctors and work -- may be important to other buyers.

Location, location

In addition to finding the right neighbourhood, consider the immediate homes around the particular property you want to buy. Are they well maintained and worth the same or more than the home you are considering?

Is the location a quiet area or a major traffic thoroughfare? What kind of privacy does the backyard provide? Does it get the morning or afternoon sun? If there is no house behind you, who owns the property and how will it be developed?

Homes located further away from the centre of an urban area are generally cheaper. Are you prepared to invest the time and money it takes to commute and how long of a commute are you prepared to commit to? Is there public transit and good access to major highways nearby?

If you have kids in school, what kinds of schools and services are available? Will your kids have to be bused to their school? If a school is close by, will they have to cross any major intersections?

Being close to a school, on the other hand, may have some drawbacks -- few owners want the noise and disturbance of being located right next door.

Finding malls, grocery and specialty stores in urban, residential areas is rarely a problem. But in neighbourhoods further away from urban areas, you may need to drive to the nearest convenience store. And getting to the local grocery store, pharmacy and other support services may require an even longer trek.

It's great to be located near parks and recreational facilities, but few homeowners appreciate the high cast of tennis court lights beaming into their back yard. If the home you are considering backs onto such property, drive around the area and see how often the baseball diamonds, soccer fields, swimming pools and skating rinks are being used and when.

More serious concerns are having such things as gas stations, airports, railway tracks, commercial developments, major highways and cemeteries very close by.

Finally, if your heart is set on finding that one-of-a-kind 150-year old Georgian home, you're not going to find it in a newer development. If you want large bedrooms and bathrooms, narrowing your search to an older part of town where homes are generally smaller, may prove disappointing.

Before making any decisions, think of your lifestyle and how a particular location would enhance or detract from it.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA


New homeowners often find there's more to keeping up a house than cutting the grass and clearing snow from the driveway.


To start with, a new homeowner needs to have on hand a 'basic tool kit'. A number of basic tools are a must C a metal hammer, screwdrivers with a variety of heads, a small saw, electric drill, adjustable wrench, pliers and measuring stick. Sandpaper and an assortment of screws and nails are also very handy. These tools will help with simple repairs such as securing loose tiles, adjusting a door, installing a lock, etc.


Once you're equipped to perform the most basic repairs, take a look around. Do you know where your gas/electricity and water meter are located? Usually these are found outside the home by a side or back wall. This makes it easy for the meter reader who can take the readings without bothering you. Sometimes these meters, especially the water meters in older homes, are located indoors -- usually in the basement.

As new homeowners, it's a good idea to check your meters on a weekly or monthly basis. This will help you gain an understanding of seasonal increases and decreases in consumption and enable you to take measures to become more energy/water efficient.


Another area where a little knowledge can go a long way is in the plumbing system. House plumbing is divided into two separate parts. One is the fresh-water system that provides cold and hot water from the various fixtures throughout the house; the other is the drainage system that carries waste out of the house.

The fresh-water system can be completely shut down by closing the main valve, which is usually located in the basement near where the underground water line enters the house. Most lines that branch out from the main line also have individual shut-off valves so water can be turned off to one area without disturbing the flow in another. Most plumbing jobs require at least the partial shut-off of your home's water supply.

Meanwhile, the drainage system connects all the plumbing fixtures to a main sewer line that carries waste out of the house to a sewer or septic tank. The main sewer line extends above the roof of the house to allow gases to escape. The opening of this pipe, above the roof, is called a vent and must never be covered or allowed to become clogged with debris.


Knowledge of your home's electrical system is also valuable in case you have to turn off all power in case of an emergency, such as a fire. You should know the location of the main electric switch in the house and how to use it. You should also know the location of the fuse box or circuit breaker and how to reset a breaker or replace a fuse in case one blows.

The main switch, along with the circuit breaker panel or fuse box, are located near the electric meter at a point close to where the power lines come into the house. They may be in the basement, utility room, or even the kitchen. The older the home, the more likely it will have a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker panel. Always replace fuses with ones of the same capacity.


Another important aspect of your new home is its heating system. The more familiar you are with it, the less likely you might find yourself cold on a winter's day. Heating systems are usually fueled by oil, gas, electricity or wood.

Gas-fired and oil-fired heating systems have burners and should be inspected regularly, usually once a year before the start of the heating season. Gas burners have pilot lights. You should learn to re-light the pilot light on your gas burner in case it ever goes out. You should also know the location of the gas shut-off valve so you can turn off the gas in case the burner doesn't light or you smell gas escaping.

Heating systems operate in a variety of ways. The better you understand your system, the safer and more efficient you can make it.


Fire in a home is a major hazard that all new homeowners should be aware of. Early detection is the key to protecting your family and keeping damage to a minimum. Ensure your home has smoke detectors installed in hallways and bedroom areas. Smoke detectors sound an alarm when smoke is in nearby air, even if there is no intense heat. Ideally, you should have a smoke alarm in each bedroom.

If you have a gas-fired heating system or a fireplace in your home, it's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors in the bedroom areas. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas that, at high levels, can cause flu-like symptoms and even death.

While carbon monoxide detectors are not a substitute for proper care and maintenance of your home, they provide a good second line of defense by sounding an alarm when carbon monoxide reaches an unsafe level.

When we purchase a home, most of us want to turn it into a safe and secure haven for our families. The more we know about the home we have purchased, the more efficient and effective we can be.

Article Provided by: David Pusey Personal Real Estate Corporation

Source: OREA

The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are member’s of CREA. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by CREA and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.