Housing isn’t being built fast enough to quell Salmon Arm’s current hot real estate market according to local realtors. (File photo)

Pandemic contributing to challenging time for home buyers throughout Okanagan, Shuswap

Realtors association says increased demand created 'huge shock' on supply

From Kelowna to Revelstoke, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, realtors are seeing high demand for housing and struggles for prospective buyers.

According to a March report by the Association of Interior Realtors (AOIR), the inventory of available single detached homes in the regions it serves isn’t enough to satisfy current demand. Meanwhile, housing prices have been rising in the Central and North Okanagan, as well as in the Shuswap and Revelstoke, by an average of 20 per cent.

The strong demand was accompanied by a reduction in the number of days homes were on the market, except in Revelstoke and the Shuswap. However, realtors in Salmon Arm have noted a quick turnaround on home sales, which can involve multiple offers.

The situation is largely the same for condos and apartments.

According to the association, residential sales were up 146 per cent this March, with 1,763 units sold, compared to the 708 sold in March 2020. The highest increase in sales were in the South Peace River, up 224 per cent compared to the same time last year, and in the Shuswap/Revelstoke regions, up 223 per cent.

Read more: Salmon Arm experiencing ‘unprecedented’ sellers’ housing market

Read more: Okanagan-Shuswap real estate market continues hot start to 2021

The association’s president, Kim Heizmann, said the pandemic has contributed to increased demand for housing, creating a “huge shock” on supply. She said it will take a long time before that supply returns to a healthy level.

Salmon Arm realtor Linda Rholfs said in March that local demand has, in part, been coming from people from larger urban centres, including Kelowna and the Lower Mainland, who are wanting to relocate.

“They’re trying to move away – especially if they can work from out of their homes – and into smaller communities,” said Rholfs, adding the pandemic has prompted some people to relocate to less congested areas. “Many are looking for a house or acreage right now… (they) have become desirable because of COVID-19 I think.”

The resulting low inventory and high demand has created a seller’s market which, Heizmann pointed out, is making for a difficult time for buyers.

“Buyers are struggling to find homes and the lack of supply is putting upward pressure on pricing,” commented Heizmann.


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