The South Cariboo has slim pickings left in terms of real estate.
Realtors say the market has been hot this summer, with people snapping up homes from Lac La Hache to Clinton. Blake Bolster, of Royal LePage Kamloops, said there’s limited inventory available in his region, which includes Clinton and 70 Mile House. Only seven properties remain on the market in Clinton, he said, which he attributes to mostly retirees moving to the town from bigger centres.
He estimates about 70 percent of buyers are retirees – or those 50-plus – while 30 percent were young families moving into the area.
“A lot of the demand is coming from the Lower Mainland still. People moving up, cashing in and wanting to slow down,” Bolster said. “There’s a lot of retired people and people who are now able to work more remotely. Especially since COVID, it’s really opened people up to being able to work remotely from home so they’re selling and moving into smaller communities.”
Clinton has recorded 14 sales of single-family homes this year, with the most active market for homes under $250,000. About 10 of this year’s sales fell in that category.
A similar trend is being seen in 100 Mile House, where realtors have been busier this summer than expected. The average selling price of a property in 100 Mile House in September was $343,388, compared to $322,537 in September 2019, according to the BC Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB).
The BCNREB said low mortgage rates combined with COVID-19 restrictions led to the second-highest property sales on record in the third quarter for the Northern B.C. region since data was first collected in 1980. As of Sept. 30, there were 344 properties of all types available for purchase in the 100 Mile House area.
David Jurek, owner of RE/MAX 100 Mile House, confirmed overall sales were up from last year, with most coming in over the last three months. Although inventory remained low all year, sales increased so they sold more than the year before. Prices also went up, according to average, around five to six percent. Jurek said he noticed that a lot of his clients were buying second homes – mostly with recreational access – this year. As COVID-19 has made vacationing abroad hard, he added, it seems to have translated into people spending their money in the province more than they have in the past.
Ron Kelly, manager of 100 Mile House’s Royal LePage office agreed, saying this is the busiest and consequently the best year he can remember. He notes people can sell a house in the Lower Mainland for close to a million dollars, buy another one in the South Cariboo for around $300,000 and retire with a nice nest egg in the bank.
“It’s just unbelievable. Here we are in the middle of October and it should be slowing down but it just keeps chugging along,” Kelly said. “I think people are doing well in Williams Lake too but not as well as (100 Mile) is.”
Looking at the BCNREB report, Kelly said that this year the value of the land they sold doubled from $8-million to $16-million and house and acreage sales were also up from $37-million to $46-million. All of this is especially impressive he said when you bear in mind that last year was already a pretty good year.
Despite limited inventory, the realtors expect to see another boost in the market next spring. Bolster said he expects some people are holding off selling their properties as they observe how COVID-19 impacts the market. Although inventory, in general, isn’t plentiful in Clinton due to its size, Bolster said even by that standard there’s not a lot available this year. Last year there were 17 property sales in Clinton, while sales usually range between 12 and 20.
“I think we could probably have more sales, if we get more listings, especially in that under $250,000 range,” Bolster said. “It’s a steady market we see prices going up, year over year, for the last four or five years.”
Jurek anticipates the trend will continue as more people leave larger urban centres in favour of rural communities like 100 Mile. This year properties that usually wouldn’t get that much attention – rural and remote properties in particular – were selling fast. He maintains it’s still a seller’s market out there.
“Seasonally we start to slow down this time of year but we still have buyers wanting to come, so it’s a great time to sell still,” he said. “If you’re looking to buy obviously inventory is a little lower than it usually would be so there’s not as much to choose from. In the spring we do see a listing rush but anybody thinking of selling, now is a good time but winter is at the doorstep.”