Housing market ‘the hottest we’ve seen in years’

When an area experiences changes like significant major industry closures or struggles – as it the case with some of Campbell River’s heavy industries these days – people don’t usually think about it being a great time to buy a home there.

“I think sometimes we all fall into that myopic view of what the economy in your own little town is doing. When the mill went down it was the same thing,” says local realtor Mark Ranniger.

“But as bad as that was – and it was bad. It put a lot of people out of work and it was terrible – it’s a bigger world now, and areas like ours are better able to weather those types of storms these days,” Ranniger says, adding the housing market in Campbell River and area right now is, for many reasons, “the hottest we’ve seen in years.”

According to President of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) Margo Hoffman, the statistics back up Ranniger’s claims. Hoffman echoes Ranniger’s sentiments when she says it has been “several years” since realtors across Vancouver Island have been as busy as they are right now.

“Our market is in definitely seller’s market territory,” Hoffman says, “and we just don’t have enough inventory.”

According to the data gathered by VIREB, March 2016 saw an increase in housing sales of 24 per cent over the same month last year Island-wide, and Brendon Ogmundson, economist with the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA), says that’s reflective of the province’s vibrant economy.

“Although we’ve been saying that the housing market can’t continue at this pace indefinitely,” Ogmundson says in a recent VIREB report, “there are no signs [yet] that point to a slowdown.”

One factor contributing to people coming to town is the cost of housing elsewhere, Ranniger says.

Real estate prices in Campbell River, Ranniger says, “are incredibly attractive right now compared to other communities.”

He says his kids – now grown – are looking at purchasing property in the Okanagan right now, “and what they’re looking for is $250,000 cheaper here in Campbell River. That’s a lot of money.

“Some people, if they’re retiring from one of those more expensive places, they can retire two, or three, or four or more years earlier (by moving to Campbell River) than they could if they stayed where they are,” which is another factor in the housing market being so strong.

This factor is backed up by VIREB numbers, as well.

In March of this year, according to the real estate board, the benchmark price – which tracks the price of a “typical” home in an area – of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $281,400, which is a 2.61 percent increase over March 2015 numbers.

Compare that to the Comox Valley, where the benchmark price in March was over $350,000 – an increase of almost 10 per cent over the past year, or the Parksville/Qualicum area, which saw its benchmark price rise by 8.66 per cent to $391,400.

And VIREB says that April continued the trend of increases, seeing 662 single-family homes sold through the MLS system in their service area – all of Vancouver Island north of the Malahat – which is a 47 per cent increase over April of last year.

That sounds to be a recipe for pricing increases here, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it bode well that things don’t seem to have topped-out in the housing market just yet?

“Well, reading a crystal ball is a hard thing to do,” Ranniger admits, “but in supply-and-demand rules, you’d expect somewhat of an increase, for sure.”