Elton Ash

Home sales activity and prices are both up in Kelowna, according to Kelowna-based ReMax Western Canada vice-president Elton Ash.

Here’s more evidence that Kelowna’s housing market is hot and will only get hotter.

More homes are selling quicker at higher prices, often after multiple offers, according to the ReMax Spring Market Trends Report.

“The ripple effect on the housing markets outside of Toronto and Vancouver is quite significant,” Kelowna-based ReMax Western Canada vice-president Elton Ash said. “As a result, when you remove Toronto and Vancouver from the equation, the national average house price still rose approximately 10 per cent in the last year.”

Kelowna’s hike was slightly below that at eight per cent, based on the average home price this spring, hitting $447,308, up from $413,978 a year earlier. The figure is compiled from the average sale prices of all single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums.

The numbers are more dramatic when you look at March statistics from the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board.

The average selling price of a single-family home in the city, the number normally used as the benchmark of the market, was $556,666 in March, up 14 per cent from the $487,900 it was in March 2015. That set a new record, beating the previous high of $550,000 in mid-2008, just before the recession hit, causing price drops and seven years of recovery.

The average selling price of a townhouse in Kelowna in March was $372,405, up five per cent from $355,756 a year earlier. For condos, the March average was $282,568, up 12 per cent from $253,362.

Last month, 636 properties of all types changed hands, a 24 per cent jump from the 513 sales in the March 2015.

That’s impressive in its own right. But what’s even more remarkable is the properties sold for a combined total of $299.2 million, up 38 per cent from $217.3 million in the same month last year.

This is quite the turnaround, considering all the doom-and-gloom talk last year as the price of oil tanked and took Alberta’s economy along with it. However, the situation actually forced some Albertans’ hands, who decided to retire early or use their savings to buy a house in the Okanagan and move here.

The real estate market has become so ridiculous in Vancouver, with the average price of a single-family home topping $1 million. That’s forcing some people to look as far afield as Kelowna for a job and more affordable housing.

Of course, affordable is a relative term. Kelowna’s $557,000 average is almost half of Vancouver’s, but it’s still high nationally when there are averages like $163,000 in St. John, $211,000 in Windsor and $223,000 in Charlottetown.

Yet, with prices rising, 79 per cent of Canadians still feel owning a home they love is attainable.

Kelowna’s market, like most in the country, has also benefitted from low mortgage interest rates.

One of Kelowna’s stand-out industries, which is bumping up the population, economy and house sales, is high technology. There’s a high percentage of millennials (those aged 18 to 34) who work in high tech and are moving here from elsewhere. However, to get into a house, they sometimes have to be creative. Thirty-seven per cent of them are getting help with their down payment from their parents, a friend or a co-buyer.

Cross country round up

These first-quarter average home selling prices from ReMax, with percentage increase or decrease from last year following, are based on combining the averages for all types of housing — single-family, townhouses and condominiums.

• Vancouver: $1.1 million, up 24 per cent.

• Fraser Valley: $720,000, up 31 per cent.

• Victoria: $544,000, up 10 per cent.

• Kelowna: $447,000, up eight per cent.

• Edmonton: $364,000, down one per cent.

• Calgary: $468,000, no change.

• Regina: $312,000, up one per cent.

• Saskatoon: $347,000, down one per cent.

• Winnipeg: $300,000, up 10 per cent.

• London: $272,000, up six per cent.

• Kitchener-Waterloo: $372,000 up six per cent.

• Hamilton: $486,000, up 10 per cent.

• Toronto: $675,000, up 14 per cent.

• Ottawa: $362,000, up one per cent.

• Sudbury: $243,000, down two per cent.

• Barrie: $402,000, up 14 per cent.

• Windsor: $211,000, up 11 per cent.

• Kingston: $287,000, down three per cent.

• Saint John: $163,000 down three per cent.

• Halifax: $289,000, up four per cent.

• Charlottetown: $223,000, up six per cent.

• St. John’s: $282,000, down four per cent.

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