B.C. housing market slow

The B.C. Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB) report that sales in the Bulkley Nechako region are down despite a decrease in house prices and falling interest rates.

Doug Phair

Doug Phair

The B.C. Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB) report that sales in the Bulkley Nechako region are down despite a decrease in house prices and falling interest rates.

Across the North BCNREB reports that sales are also down.

A total of 2,153 properties sold through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in the first six months of 2011, down slightly from the 2,256 sales reported in the first half of 2010.

The value of these properties was $463 million, also down from $468.5 million in 2010.

BCNREB president Victor Prystay states, “House prices are down in most areas and interest rates remain at historically low levels. Along with an excellent inventory to choose from, it’s still a great opportunity to enter the housing market.”

According to BCNREB statistics, during the first six months of 2011, 33 properties worth $3.5 million were sold through the MLS® in the Burns Lake area, compared to 49 properties worth $5.7 million in the same time period last year.

At the end of June there were 130 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Burns Lake area.

In Houston 20 properties worth $3.3 million have changed hands so far this year, compared to 16 properties worth $2.6 million in 2010. As of June 30 there were 62 properties of all types available through the MLS® in the Houston area.

In Vanderhoof sales are also down. A total of 36 sales worth $6.8 million in the first six months of the year were reported, this is compared to 70 sales worth $10.9 million to June 30 of 2010.

As of June 30 there were 179 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Vanderhoof area.

In comparison, the Smithers area has seen a growth in sales this year. Realtors in the Smithers area reported 125 sales with a value of $26.2 million in the first six months of 2011, compared to 110 sales worth $24.1 million at this time last year.

Half of the 66 single family homes sold so far this year in Smithers, sold for less than $220,000 and took, on average, 80 days to sell. Eighteen parcels of vacant land and 21 homes on acreage also changed hands since Jan. 1, 2011.

As of June 30 there were 244 properties of all types available through MLS® in the Smithers area.

Fort St. James sales are also slightly on the increase. Twenty-two properties worth $3.2 million have sold through the MLS® in the area so far this year. This is compared with 21 properties worth $2.5 million in the first six months of 2010. At the end of June there were 67 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS® in the Fort St. James area.

Doug Phair, a sales representative from Remax Wrightway in Burns Lake said that the BCNREB figures point to a 33 per cent decrease in sales volume and a 39 per cent decrease in dollar value, however he said he remains optimistic that both housing prices and sales will increase in Burns Lake.

Phair said he would say the decrease is a ‘down draft’ rather than a down market.

“We are not in a rising market and it is a great time to buy a home,” he said, adding that potential buyers should be cautious about prices they are paying.

Phair also said that while banks have great interest rates, they have tightened up lending requirements making it harder for people to obtain a mortgage.

“These BCNREB figures are historically representative of values in Burns Lake over the years. Traditionally there are no peaks and valleys. In Smithers for example they have higher property values but they also have deeper valleys [drops in sales], whereas we are stable in Burns Lake,” he added.

Phair went on to say that late spring and early fall are the busiest time for sales in the local area. “During summer people go away and enjoy the weather. We have more product [homes for sale] in town and less out of town at the moment … usually it is the other way around and buyers are looking to purchase out of town properties. He said the global economy and the structure of the U.S. economy also puts a strain on the local real estate market as buyers that are not local residents are mare cautious.

“I am totally optimistic, but I also have to be realistic. We have always had a heartbeat here in Burns Lake … it’s just slow and steady,” Phair added.