Okanagan businesses reaping benefits of hot real estate market

By Klaudia Van Emmerik Global News

The hot real estate market in the Okanagan is having quite a spin-off effect on certain industries.

“It’s all hands on deck and then some,” said Nicole Doiron with Bekins Moving and Storage.

The moving company is extremely busy, saying as real estate activity picks up, so, too, do moves.

“We generally follow the real estate market about three to six months,” said Doiron. “So when we normally would be a little bit slower and we have more availability for moves, we’re finding that we’re booked up and people are in a panic to get moving.”

“The amount of moves that we can service, we’re hitting that capacity a lot sooner than we normally would,” she said. “People are planning a lot further in advance for the move.”

According to the Association of Interior Realtors, there were 398 single-family home sales in the Central Okanagan in April. That’s an an increase of 294 per cent from the same time last year.

The active housing market has also resulted in huge demands for storage space.

“I hate turning customers away,” said Curtis Johnson Morrison.

Johnson Morrison owns the StorageBear Self-Storage facility in West Kelowna and the Packing House Self-Storage in Kelowna, where there are waiting lists for the larger storage lockers.

He’s been in the storage business for 10 years and has never seen demand for storage quite like this.

“This is, for sure, the craziest it’s been,” he told Global News.

Johnson Morrison said he attributed the storage crunch to the hot real estate market and the number of people selling their homes.

“There’s a lot of people in limbo,” he said. “They sold their place and they can’t find another place and I see the panic in their eyes when they come into the office there — a bit flustered in the sense that they need storage because they can’t find a place to transition to.”

Johnson Morrison said he’s also getting a lot of out-of-region customers who are moving to the Okanagan.

“People have the ability to work from home … and I mean we’re in the Okanagan,” Johnson Morrison said. “It’s always been a bit of a hidden gem. It’s not such a secret anymore, so given the opportunity … they’re moving here.”

The construction boom is also leading to demands for storage space, according to Johnson Morrison.

“We see the builders and developers in town. A lot of their timelines have sort of been backed up, and so they have supplies that don’t come in, order and they need to store stuff,” he said.

To meet the demand, Johnson Morrison is making plans to accommodate more people looking for storage.

“I’m frantically trying to expand,” he said. “We’ve got more phases of lockers coming this summer, so I’ll be able to deal with the demand.”

With demand high for storage space and moving companies, the advice to anyone planning a move is to get things organized as soon as possible.

“I would say the minute that you start thinking you want sell your house, or you want to move, you should be calling a moving company to get a quote. At least you’re getting that part done,” Dorion said.

“And once the sold sign goes on, then you can call the company and get it dealt with.”

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