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Kelowna News

WALKER: Wildfires and their impact on Kelowna real estate

Mark Walker is a real estate agent and the broker/owner of Kelowna’s Walker Real Estate.
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July 28, 2018 - 12:00 PM



The bright, hot, dry days of summer are upon us - temperatures are expected to be scorching again this weekend - and as lovely as that is, we all know that it also brings the very real risk of wildfires. We’ve already seen a number of significant fires this year, and there’s still a long time to go. We haven’t quite had the smoky skies of 2017, but we’ve certainly had the odd hazy day so far.

In Kelowna, we’re very lucky. Aside from the natural splendour of our region, we’re relatively safe from life-endangering natural disasters - the big exception being wildfires, of course.

Wildfires, and the risk of them, are part and parcel of living in the interior. In other words, they’re no surprise in a general sense, so what can you do to prepare for this eventuality from a Kelowna real estate perspective?

Some of the best advice I can give is be prepared - I know, I know… you’re thinking “thanks Captain Obvious”, but what I mean by this is don’t wait until there’s an active fire in your area before you start researching and planning.

In the event of an active wildfire, you should expect closing delays on your real estate transaction. This is because new insurance policies will not be granted if there’s an active wildfire burning within 50 km of the property.

Important! Sellers must not cancel their insurance until they receive the cash from the sale. In most cases, sellers remain responsible for a property until 12:01 am on completion date - this includes a responsibility to hold appropriate insurance. If the completion date gets pushed back, so does the responsibility to have insurance.

Make sure you’re getting the best advice possible - this is important at any time, but especially when wildfires are raging. Yes, a wildfire clause can be written into a contract, but that is not necessarily a catch-all. There are lots of things to be considered, especially if an out-of-market downstream deal is part of the equation.

In addition, many new subdivisions have wildfire covenants - stipulations from the municipality for certain restrictions and requirements for properties in potential interface fire areas. Make sure you’re getting the best real estate and legal advice, so you can make an informed decision.

Despite the fire risk in our region, destruction of property (and more importantly fatalities) due to wildfires is mercifully rare, however, you should ensure you always plan for the worst, but hope for the best. At the very least, if you’re working on a deal with an active fire in the area, you’re likely to encounter delays.

If you have any questions about the Kelowna real estate market, please reach out to me. I’m always happy to chat real estate! You can contact the Walker Real Estate office by calling 250-764-4344.

—Mark Walker is a real estate agent and the broker/owner of Kelowna’s Walker Real Estate. His company runs the website - Kelowna’s most comprehensive real estate search tool - and KelownaCondos - your source for all you need to know about condos in Kelowna.

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