Michael Loewen

Michael Loewen is president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board.

The Central Okanagan’s residential real estate market is in a holding pattern as cold weather descends, Christmas approaches and mortgages are harder to get.

“With the holiday season approaching, it’s not unusual for consumers to have other financial priorities on their mind, perhaps putting home purchases on the back burner until the new year,” said Michael Loewen, president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board and a real estate agent at Royal LePage.

“Typically, we see less market activity as we head into the colder months as those that are not in a rush to move prefer to do so when weather conditions are more agreeable.”

Such sentiment shows up as early as October in the board’s statistics tracking sales on the Multiple Listing Service.

In October in the Central Okanagan, 383 residential properties changed hands, a slight dip from the 406 sales in September.

In the first 10 months of the year, residential sales add up to 3,928, 5% off the pace of 4,126 over the same period in 2018.

Sales are generally slower and prices down slightly as the market has cooled amid tough new mortgage-qualifying rules, a speculation tax and well-funded Vancouverites not moving here at the pace they used to because of their own housing slowdown.

In October, the average selling price of a single-family detached home in the Central Okanagan was $681,900, a plunge from the average of $712,400 in September.

However, October’s $681,900 was up 2.2% from the October 2018 average of $667,500.

The record average of $782,400 was set in July 2018, at the tail end of the 2017-18 boom.

The average selling price of a townhouse in October was $500,400, down slightly from the October 2018 setting of $502,500.

Condominiums saw the biggest price drop, with the October average at $318,200, a slide of 9% from $347,800 in October 2018.

“It’s too early to say whether this shift in the condo category is an anomaly or the beginning of a trend,” said Loewen.

“Or it could merely be a case of construction of more compact and affordable units having caught up to consumer demand, creating competitive market conditions.”

Another indicator of whether a market is hot or not is the average number of days to sell.

It takes longer to sell right now as the market softens and potential purchasers shop around and negotiate lower prices if possible.

Of all the single-family detached homes sold in October, the number of days for sale was 69, up 18% from the 58 days of the same month a year earlier.

For townhouses, it was 72 days, up from 54.

And for condos, it was up to 74 days from 62.

The Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board represents the 1,300 agents who work at 88 real estate offices in the Southern Interior region from Peachland to Revelstoke.

With 1,300 real estate agents and residential sales of only 383 in October, that means many didn’t make a sale last month.