The housing market in the Kootenays bucked the provincial trend by improving in 2012.
While the Greater Vancouver area saw a decrease of 27.7 per cent in dollar volume between 2011 and 2012, the Kootenays saw a 5 per cent increase. Across B.C. as a whole, there was a 19.1 per cent decrease.
In the number of sales, the Kootenays has 2,009 in 2012, against 1,953 in 2011 – a 2.9 per cent increase. That is against the provincial average of an 11.8 per cent decrease in unit sales.
“It is a modest increase,” said Katherine Rutherford, “but we are still very encouraged by that because overall in B.C. it is down 11 per cent.”
A Cranbrook realtor, Rutherford is the 2013 president of the Kootenay Real Estate Board.
According to Rutherford, the East Kootenay’s proximity to Alberta has helped the market improve.
“The other major markets in Canada that we always hear about in the news are Toronto and Vancouver, and they have been contracting – they are both down. However, Calgary was the strongest real estate market in Canada last year,” she said. “As those Calgarians feel a little more flush, we notice a difference in our recreation properties, both golf and lake properties.”
Rutherford said that while the number of units sold in Cranbrook increased in 2012, the average price did not change very much.
“The reason our pricing has held steady but our volume has increased is our sellers have realized: we have to adjust our price. When the sellers got their head around that, yes, we have to adjust our price to be more competitive, we do see the sales,” she said.
Right now, there are about 90 properties for sale in Cranbrook, a little lower than normal, according to Rutherford.
“We always have lower volumes in December and January in Cranbrook, which means it is a great time for homeowners to put their homes on the market because there is less competition.”
But it is still a buyer’s market, she went on, because interest rates remain low.
Over the next 12 months, economists are expecting the Kootenays to continue to see an upswing in the housing market.
“The Kootenays are expected to have slightly higher sales activity in the next year – 1.8 per cent,” said Rutherford.
“Again, it is bucking the trend because B.C. as a whole is looking at a 10 per cent decrease. Canada as a whole is looking at approximately a 2 per cent decrease.”
However, she pointed out that the Kootenay region is the largest in B.C., so prices and trends vary considerably between communities.
“The Kootenays are such a huge area, so people really do need to speak to their local realtor to get the local value. There is a huge distinction between Invermere, Grand Forks, Nelson and Cranbrook in values and activity,” said Rutherford.
Overall, it is good news for those engaged in the housing market.
“I think it is very encouraging for the Kootenays. It’s a great place for people to come to vacation or invest,” Rutherford wrapped up.