A closer look at the current state of Kelowna’s rental and real estate markets

By Jules Knox -Global News

As Kelowna’s skyline inches higher and higher, the average price for a home is creeping up too.

Compared to this time last year, single family residences are up by three per cent and condominiums are up by 11 per cent, according to the latest numbers from the Okanagan Mainland Real Estate Board.

However, homes are taking a bit longer to sell than they did a year ago, said Michael Loewen, president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board.

“The market has cooled a little bit from last year, and so sellers need to be a little more patient. Buyers are finding that they can take their time now because there isn’t a lineup of buyers for every home that comes on the market,” he added.

Loewen believes the market could also be suffering from uncertainty around the election.

“People are wondering what the political landscape is going to be like in November,” he said.

However, Loewen believes there could be a surge on the way because there’s been a recent bump in sales in the Lower Mainland.

“A significant portion of our buyers come from the Lower Mainland, 15 to 20 per cent typically, so we’re bound to see some of those Lower Mainland sellers find their way into the Okanagan,” he said.

Loewen said this year has seen a significant increase in the number of purpose-built rentals.

“It’s been huge. It’s the largest increase in a year by far that we have ever seen,” he said, adding that some landlords are introducing incentives to get tenants to move in, such as the free month’s rent offered at the new Park East building in Central Green.

“I think most people were surprised to see it because as has been noted, it’s not typical in the Central Okanagan that we see landlords having to provide incentives in order to attract renters,” Loewen said, adding that the city typically has a low vacancy rate.

Stober Group leasing agent Dallas Gray believes it’s one of the first, if not the very first time in Kelowna a landlord has offered free rent to move in.

“The reason for that incentive is we recognize there’s still some finishing work on the building and on the site, so we’ve just wanted to make it really easy for people to make a decision to come live here,” Gray said.

Gray believes the incentive is paying off. Park East is already 60 per cent leased, renting out faster than its counterpart Park West did last year, he said.

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