June 6, 2014 8:02 pm

Demand for Okanagan housing growing

KELOWNA – It is the kind of demand we haven’t seen in years.  Driven by employment growth and an increasing population, demand for housing in BC is growing.

In the Okanagan, builders are ramping up efforts to keep up.

“We’re booming. We have not seen numbers like this since 2006 and 2007,” says Renee Wasylyk, CEO of Troika Group.

The construction company is currently working on three major residential subdivision projects in the Central Okanagan.

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When all three are completed, it will add upwards of 500 new homes to the housing inventory.

“Last year we did 35 units. This year we will top 90 and each of those 90 units we will be developing this year are pre-sold units. So right now we don’t have anything that is standing inventory which is remarkable for our Okanagan valley over last 6 to 8 years,” says Wasylyk.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation says there are several reasons why demand for new homes is growing.  Higher levels of employment and low interest rates are among those reasons.

Another contributing factor is the decreasing inventory of both newly constructed homes and existing ones for sale.

It’s a combination that has builders jumping into action.

Last year 1,013 homes were built in the Central Okanagan. This year that number is forecast to rise to 1,075 and expected to jump to 1,325 in 2015.

As for the median price of a single detached home–that too is on the rise.  Last year it was just over $589,000. This year it’s up slightly to $595,000. By next year it’s expected to increase to $610,000.

“It is starting to climb up especially under $600,000. There is so much pressure on that inventory that the listing price is coming up a bit,” says realtor Rick Hamer-Jackson.

Hamer-Jackson says sale prices for new homes are also rising.

“For the new home construction end of things the prices have come down and now we are starting to see that get absorbed and they are starting to move up again,” he says.

With no signs of things slowing down, construction companies like Troika Group are taking measures to ensure they can keep up with the continued demand.

“We are in a hiring mode. We are making sure we are poised and ready to capitalize on what people need right now which is housing,” says Wasylyk.

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