Realty sales on the upswing

Kootenays is becoming more popular with the Okanagan prices rising and the lack of land availability there, said realtor Sharon Marshall.

Whether it’s the beautiful weather or an upsurge in the economy, one thing is certain: realty in the Boundary is selling.

“We are having more sales this year than we have in previous January through March time periods (first quarters),” said Cindy Anthony, realtor and managing broker at Grand Forks Realty. “I don’t know whether it’s the weather or if it’s just time for more sales to happen.”

Anthony said that real estate sales tend to run on a seven-year cycle. “It’s been at least seven years since the downturn,” she said. “We’re kind of anticipating an upswing now. But I think that better weather has definitely helped that. People are out travelling. I think it’s probably a combination of several factors.”

Anthony said that real estate prices are staying pretty low due to a two or three-year supply on the market.

“There’s a lot of competition out there so were not seeing an increase in actual in sales prices but things are selling quicker,” said Anthony.

Anthony said the market in Grand Forks is primarily retirees looking to settle into a nicer, warmer climate.

“They’re looking for a rancher or bungalow-style with few, if any, stairs and two or three bedrooms,” she said. “A lot of them do like a basement but they all want a garage.”

Anthony said they do have young families looking for their first home.

As for those who rent, Anthony said it’s much better to save up and get some equity into a home.

“If someone can get approved to buy a house I think they’re much better off than renting,” she said. “A lot of our rental market doesn’t have the variety. We have smaller homes, older homes. We don’t have the nicer homes as many and they’re hard to find.”

Anthony also warns than many rental market homes are people waiting to sell.

“So at some point those homes may go on the market and may sell,” she said. “That forces a tenant to leave. No one wants to be uprooted from their home.”

Sharon Marshall, broker/owner of Discover Border Country Realty, agrees that it is a great time to buy a house.

“It’s busier this year,” she said. “Last year was some improvement. We’ve had quite a few years of reduced activity. But this year the good news is that the buyers are moving into a higher price bracket.”

Marshall said having interest rates come down makes this the optimal time to buy.

“We’re at an all-time giveaway on interest rates,” she said. “In many cases it’s far cheaper to purchase a house than to rent. Also, there are still incentives for the first time homebuyer. People would be very smart to look at that and take advantage.”

Marshall said the prime location and weather in Grand Forks makes this place an ideal destination.

The Kootenays is becoming more popular with the Okanagan prices rising and the lack of land availability there, she added. “We’ve still got land here and it’s very attractive.”

Marshall said that most of the people moving in are retirees mainly from the Okanagan, Alberta or the Lower Mainland.  Home buyers are looking for houses that are easy to maintain, she added. “A lot of buyers are retirees so they don’t want a lot of stairs. They want a couple of bathrooms, two or three bedrooms, garage or workshop.”

Marshall also agreed that buying is a much more prudent decision than renting.

“They’re creating an investment,” she said. “It’s a proven fact that real estate over time is a good investment. It looks like things are starting to move again. Odds are good that their investment would be good even in the reasonably short term.”