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Key to real estate rebound is appealing to young professionals

Saturday, February 6th, 2010 | 9:30 am

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Real estate sales are coming back.

By Kathy Michaels

Is the real estate market doing better than a year ago?

Yes.

Is it anywhere near the peaks that once made anyone who dabbled in real estate oodles of cash?

Not by a long shot, says a realty veteran and owner of a business which allows her contemporaries to park their licenses without losing them.

On the heels of the  Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board’s release of January’s sales activity, Cheryl Fraser, owner and operator of Novel Realty Solutions Ltd. explained this market has yet to rise out of the dumps, though early signs of resurrection are present.

“Vancouver is starting to heat up and there’s quite a bit of real estate turning over quickly,” she said.  “In the Okanagan, listings are coming up, but they’re not selling that quickly — that’s traditional for real estate cycles.”

Inventory is down 11 per cent from last January  as there are 4,120 units compared to 4,648. The 1,021 new listings taken rose slightly from the 884 last year but increased significantly over the 525 in December.

Sales of 252 units jumped 123 per cent last month from the 113 sold in January 2009 and eased slightly from the 241 sold in December. Residential units sold increased to 219 from 109 year over year, with single family units being the area of the most growth.

Sales of single family units were up to 122 compared to 55 the year before. Townhouse sales improved as there were 25 this January compared to 13 a year ago. Apartments sales also rose to 49 from 28.

“We are pleased to see a strong start to the New Year in the Central Okanagan as sales activity remains relatively strong, and an increase in listings provides more choice for buyers,” said Brenda Moshansky, OMREB director and realtor in the Central Zone.

“With the market looking more positive compared to this time in 2009, we look forward to more  balanced conditions in the months to come.”

She expects that low mortgage interest rates and lower home prices than before the downturn will continue to spur first-time buyers.

Hopes that the upcoming Winter Olympics could provide a golden opportunity for the Okanagan to attract the attention of potential buyers to consider investment and recreation property here instead of the Lower Mainland where prices are at an all-time high.

Okanagan affordability something that Maureen Enser, the executive director of the UDI’s Pacific Region, said the region should capitalize on if they want to succeed coming out of the recession.

“I have two children, lots of neices and nephews, and I know what lifestyle they are looking for,” she said. “The Vancouver market is too pricey for them to what they want to do and buy a home.”

With that in mind, she said that city planners need to do what they can to attract the industries that support economic heavy weights like the hospital and the universities.

If that can be accomplished and prices remain lower, Kelowna will be in good stead heading into the future.

kathy@kelowna.com

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