Nationwide trends in real estate — demand outstripping what’s available, higher prices, sellers in “hot” markets looking to get more for their housing dollar, and buyers priced out of larger centres going further afield for houses — are being reflected in the local housing market.
Kevin Scharfenberg of eXp Realty (https://www.tnrdhomes.com/selling/) has been working as a realtor for three years, primarily in the Ashcroft/Cache Creek/Clinton area, and says that while the number of homes sold in the region has been consistent since 2018, there has been a marked increase this year.
“In 2018 there were 67 sales in Ashcroft/Cache Creek,” he says.”In 2019 there were 64, and in 2020 there were 68. So far this year we’re at 32.
“The issue seems to be that since people have realized they can work from home, more people are looking at our area.”
While house prices in the region are still reasonable, he adds that they have definitely jumped. In 2019, the average sale price of a home in Ashcroft was around $191,000; a figure which climbed to just over $315,000 in 2020. Figures also show that houses are being snapped up faster: in 2019 the average Ashcroft home for sale spent 170 days on the market, compared with 81 days in 2020.
That average selling price is well below the national average; the Canadian Real Estate Association’s market statistics show that in March 2021, the national average home price in Canada was $716,828. Scharfenberg says that a lot of the homes that sell in the region need some updates, and prices have increased, but there are definitely people capitalizing on selling their homes elsewhere for high prices and coming here.
“In Abbotsford, a single family home starts at around $700,000. People can come here and get a really nice place for $400,000. They’re not getting as a good a deal as they would have last year or the year before, but they’re still getting a good deal and coming out on top if they’re selling there and buying here.”
Scharfenberg also notes that the area is attractive to people for other reasons.
“They come here because of the weather. People cite the climate as a reason to look here. It’s better weather to retire to: they’re tired of the cold in Alberta or the wet weather in the Lower Mainland.”
Another reason people give for moving to the region is because they have family here, or living nearby. “This area is seen as being middle of the road. They lived in Prince George and have family on the coast, but they don’t want to move down there, so this is the middle.”
He acknowledges that the market in the region is still largely driven by locals. “You have the same mix of locals upsizing or downsizing or selling off investment properties, people coming here from Clinton or 100 Mile. It’s not necessarily more out of towners.”
However, he adds that people who were looking to purchase in Kamloops are beginning to expand their search out to Savona, Cache Creek, and Ashcroft because the cost of houses in Kamloops is so high. “They’ve opened up their radius to anything within an hour’s drive of Kamloops.”
This year, he says, a lot of people are looking for recreational properties and acreages. “I think it’s because people can’t travel. They want to have a place where they can go and still get outside, away from the city.”
Rancher homes are also in high demand. “People are definitely looking for one-level houses. Seniors want everything on one level, because stairs are getting harder. That’s the biggest demand I have. Another thing people are looking for are single family homes with three bedrooms on the same floor and with a garage. There aren’t a lot of older homes with garages, and a lot have two bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms downstairs. That three bedroom configuration can be hard to find.”
Another challenge with older homes is that some of them need major work.
“People don’t want to have to do a full overhaul. They’re okay putting in kitchens and flooring and doing some painting, but they don’t want to have to put on a new roof, or replace the HVAC system. If an older home has been kept up they’re okay with that, but if it hasn’t been touched in a long time it’s harder.”
The lack of rental units is also an issue in the region. “There are not enough rentals. I have a list of four or five people all the time looking for rentals. A multi-family apartment would be great with rentals, or a mixture of rent and buy. That would be more affordable for people to get into.”
Scharfenberg says that the Ashcroft/Cache Creek/Clinton area is a great one, and everyone loves small towns.
“The market is increasing, and homes that are priced correctly are selling in a short time frame, as there’s lack of inventory right now and low interest rates. The low interest rate is making it more affordable to own than it is to rent, providing you have the deposit, and your credit score is at the right spot. Homes that are trying to cash in during this great sellers’ market but are priced higher than buyers are ready and willing to pay will continue to take longer to sell.”