Real estate sales in the Okanagan Valley hit an all-time high in 2020.
Despite a slowdown when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, residential sales picked up again and surpassed previous years.
“We expected the opposite, just like everybody else,” Interior Real Estate Association president Kim Heizmann said.
“We had no idea that this pandemic would create this kind of a perfect storm in real estate.”
According to the Interior Real Estate Association, the previous biggest year for the region stretching from Revelstoke to Peachland was 2016, which saw $4.7 billion in sales.
However, 2020 had reached that number by October and went on to surpass the annual record by $1.2 billion.
The final tally for 2020 was $5.9 billion in sales, Heizmann said.
“This valley is becoming a big draw. It’s a large magnet that is pulling so many people from other areas,” realtor John Deak said.
Deak believes COVID has changed people’s spending habits, helping them save for down payments.
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Low interest rates are also fueling the market, he added.
“I’m seeing first-time buyers who are local. I’m seeing people who were renting in the Lower Mainland finally able to purchase a home and able to do it here in the Okanagan,” Deak said.
“I’m seeing see Calgary retirees purchase their dream home.”
In the South Okanagan, the average sales price for single family homes surged 37 per cent, according to the real estate board’s statistics.
“Whenever we see any kind of double digit price increases, month over or year over year in any kind of stats, those are big numbers,” Heizmann said.
However, Deak noted that despite the big demand, there is still little supply.
“Inventory is frightful,” he said. “Typically, in the spring is when you see an increase in inventory, but you’ll also see an increase in buyers, so it’s a double-edged sword.”