COVID-19 has hit Okanagan home inspectors hard but people are still buying and selling | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 has hit Okanagan home inspectors hard but people are still buying and selling

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April 14, 2020 - 8:00 AM

It’s taking some time for COVID-19 to work its way into the Okanagan real estate market as March sales increased over February, in part because many sales were already in stream.

Real estate boards did warn in monthly updates, however, that April will likely see a slowdown as the pandemic worsens.

But, if home inspectors, who are a key part of the home buying process, are any kind of early warning system, it will be much more than a slowdown.

“We’re down 75 per cent at this moment,” Andrea Klingbeil, co-owner of AmerSpec Inspection Services in Kelowna told today, April 13.

Things were going along fine until about March 15 when the drop-off began, she said.

“I don’t think it’s going to completely stop,” Klingbeil said. “There are still people moving. They’re downsizing, or upsizing. There are still people being transferred in. This is a desirable place to be.”

That 75 per cent estimate is in line with what some other home inspectors are seeing.

On the other hand, they may not be a real indicator as the number of listings and sales are not showing such a drop-off.

“We’re probably going to see about a 40 per cent drop in activity – maybe some modest effect on prices,” Michael Loewen, president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board told “We’re not expecting to see the bottom fall out of the market.”

For the first three months of 2020, there was an average of about 300 new home listings each month. By today, there were 125, which is about the same pace considering no listings were recorded on Good Friday because it was a holiday.

And there are still buyers, with 437 sales concluding in the last 30 days and 183 in the past 10 days, Loewen said.

A deal is listed as concluded when the subjects come off, which is a process that takes two or three weeks. That means many of the sales that were recently completed were actually done in late March. That was at a time when the federal government guaranteed it would back mortgages made in March. Banks are also allowing mortgage payments to be deferred for up to six months, so that’s helped stabilize the market.

“People are still moving in and out of town,” Loewen said. “People that have already made a commitment to move. People who have already sold their homes need a home to move into so they need to buy. There are people who are transitioning from their homes into retirement residences or are downsizing. If their home had sold, then they’d still have to buy.”

Loewen’s board covers the area from Peachland to Revelstoke where 551 homes were sold in March, up from 435 in February and on par with last year.

The benchmark price for a typical single family home in the Central Okanagan rose 3.6 per cent to $667,70.

Similar sales and price increases were recorded in the South Okanagan as well. See more here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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