Real estate figures released Monday offered long-awaited reassurance that there is substance behind the economic rebound, even if results for Kamloops are mixed.
“It’s been fairly active, more than last year for sure,” said Ingrid Pfeiffer, vice-president of Kamloops and District Real Estate Association. “The market has been quite brisk with sales activity.”
A total of 246 city houses were sold in August compared with 206 in the same month of 2012. That represents an increase of more than 19 per cent. The total dollar value of homes sold rose to more than $80 million, or 21.3 per cent.
On the other hand, the number of new listings, another indicator of market activity, was down marginally to 545 from 559 a year ago. In the Kamloops region as a whole, the number of listings dropped to 2,185 from 2,329 in August 2012, a six-per-cent decline.
“When interest rates went up in July, a lot of people who were sitting on the fence probably jumped in,” Pfeiffer said in partial explanation of the upswing.
The average Kamloops house price remained virtually unchanged at $315,901.
Pfeiffer said there has been a perception that prices have risen, but that’s clearly not the case.
“It’s still a buyer’s market, it’s just that there’s more activity.”
Aberdeen remains the top-selling neighbourhood, though the neighbourhood’s size tends to skew the results. Sahali comes second in terms of sales overall.
Many prospective buyers held off in 2012, but they were out in force this summer, said Cameron Muir, chief economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association. The trend suggests they had a change of heart over speculation that historically low interest rates were set to rise.
“Fear of a housing market hard landing has given way to a sense of urgency to lock in a mortgage at a low interest rate,” Muir said.
Sales have risen consistently over the past seven consecutive months, a clear end to the slump triggered by the 2008 recession. It’s no mystery why prices should remain steady in Kamloops, Muir said.
“That’s because the supply in Kamloops has been adequate to meet the demand in the marketplace.”
Muir believes 2013 will go down as a transition year en route to stronger economic conditions. He said the trend should continue, even with anticipated interest rate hikes eroding affordability.
The Canadian Real Estate Association reported Monday that sales across the country had improved faster than forecast.
The association said sales have improved more quickly than expected, likely due to “the transient influence” of buyers with pre-approved financing buying before their lower pre-approved rates expire.
Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said the gain for August also benefited from a weak month a year ago.
“Still, suffice it to say that next to no one predicted a big mid-year bounce in home sales at the start of 2013, when calls for Canadian housing market calamity were all the rage,” Porter wrote in a report.
“Contrary to the Greek chorus of woe, sales are now above their 10-year average in seasonally adjusted terms. And, the year-ago comparisons will remain quite easy for the next eight months, so settle in for a spell of potentially solid year-over-year figures even if sales do simmer down notably in coming months.”