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Current state of Kelowna’s rental and real estate markets

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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.

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“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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International students have powerful influence on B.C. real estate

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International students represent a powerful economic influence in Canada, according to data from the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), not the least of which is seen in the real estate sector.

In 2017, the latest numbers available, there were 494,525 international students in Canada, a 119 per cent increase compared to 2010 and a 20 per cent increase from a year earlier.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Canada the No. 1 country for education in the world in 2017, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and the United States.

The three top reasons why international students choose Canada, according to the CBIE, are the quality of the secondary education system, Canada’s reputation as a tolerant and non-discriminatory society and its reputation as a safe country.

It is estimated that foreign students spend $8 billion annually in Canada, including tuition costs, housing costs and other living expenses.

This translates into the creation of more than 81,000 jobs and a more than $445 million contribution to government revenue.

Surveys have shown that 95 per cent of international students recommend Canada as a study destination to their peers.

Source: Canadian Bureau for International Education

While the majority of international students arrive from China, at 28 per cent of the total, and India, representing 25 per cent of enrolments, the foreign students came from at least 14 countries in 2017, including approximately 15,000 from the United States.

British Columbia, which attracts an average of 115,000 students each year, is one of Canada’s most popular destinations for international students. Each student pays an average of $12,000 per year on housing, part of an annual $1.8 billion in annual spending in the province. Foreign-student enrolment in B.C. has risen 300 per cent in the past 10 years.

The Real Estate Investment Network recently published a report called The University Effect, which examined the effect of large numbers of students on an area’s real estate market, and offered advice to student-housing investors.

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Regal real estate: $1M castle for sale in Morden

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Calling all royal wannabes! A castle in rural Manitoba is up for sale with a $1 million price tag.

Bella’s Castle, a 117-year-old stone mansion in Morden, Man. is being sold by its owner, Lili Krushel.

She told CBC’s Nadia Kidwai on Weekend Morning Sunday that her family is selling the castle— which serves as a bed and breakfast, restaurant and wedding venue — because they don’t have the time to commit to the growing business.

“We just opened the tea room in the second year and this year we started the weddings. We just had one wedding yesterday,” Krushel said. “It’s just growing so much that I feel like it’s taking away time from my family, so that’s kind of the reason why we’re selling it.”

Krushel said her mother was the reason the family purchased the mansion in the first place.

“My mother really loves collecting antiques— usually it’s on a smaller scale —but when we moved to Morden she really fell in love with this house,” she explained.

The castle serves as a bed and breakfast, restaurant and wedding venue. (Bella’s Castle/Facebook)

Originally the plan was to live in the house, but it was too big for Krushel and her mother. They started renting out rooms as a bed and breakfast and their business skyrocketed from there.

She said they’ve had their fair share of international visitors.

“They are from all over the world, actually. We have a world map on the wall and every continent has been pinned,” Krushel said.

Her family bought the building three years ago for $500,000 and put the same amount into renovations, so they’re hoping to make that money back. They’re selling the business privately, along with the property, including furniture.

The 4,000 square feet castle has five rooms and a wraparound porch and is situated on a 31,000 square foot lot.

The castle was built in 1902 for a lawyer named Harry Black. He was the son of the famous Reverend John Black, the first Presbyterian pastor of the Red River Settlement in 1851.

Although Krushel is busy with her family and another full-time job, she said the castle has been an important part of her life.

“I’m going to miss it tremendously,” Krushel said. “I hope I can help the new owner to transition and maybe I can still help out here and there.”

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FTC halts misleadingreal estate seminars

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NEW YORK — A court has agreed to put a temporary stop to pricey real estate seminars fronted by HGTV stars after the Federal Trade Commission said promises that the classes could make people rich were “misleading” and “bogus.”

In its complaint Friday, the FTC said that Utah-based Zurixx LLC would hold free real estate events endorsed by HGTV stars, including Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead of “Flip or Flop” fame. But at the events, attendees would be asked to pay for another three-day class that cost $1,997. And those who paid for those classes would be taught how to apply for new credit cards and increase the credit limits on existing cards. Then, according to the FTC, instructors would suggest using the credit to pay for additional training that cost more than $41,000.

When customers complained, the FTC said Zurixx would offer refunds, but only if customers signed an agreement barring them from writing negative reviews or speaking to regulators.

Zurixx said in a statement that it welcomes the scrutiny and anticipates “a positive outcome as we work directly and openly with the agencies involved.”

HGTV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2016, The Associated Press spoke to about a dozen people who took classes by Zurixx, saying that they were pushed to buy pricey classes, but learned very little about the real estate business.

In addition to halting the business, Zurixx’s assets were frozen, which could potentially be used to refund customers. The FTC typically asks courts to halt businesses in order to investigate them further.

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