Coronavirus: Home sales in Okanagan drop drastically amid pandemic

Spring usually brings with it a lot of for sale signs in front of homes.

This year, though, with the coronavirus pandemic affecting most of the world, not so much.

“Usually this time of year is extremely healthy and busy,” said Kim Heizmann, president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB).

“A lot of people decide to put their houses on the market because it is such a great time. The flowers come out, so usually very busy time of year.”

The global pandemic has led to a significant decrease in the number of new home listings, as would-be sellers hold off on putting their properties on the market.

“A lot of people have just put on the pause button,” Heizmann told Global News.

“Everybody is just trying to see what happens over the next few months and a lot of people have just hit pause.”

According to numbers released by OMREB, which covers a wide area from Peachland to Revelstoke, the number of residential listings declined by 41 per cent in April from March.

Fewer listings has translated into fewer homes being sold.

Sales of single family dwellings, condos and townhomes has plunged by 58 per cent from this time last year.

“It’s quite uncertain for a lot of people,” Heizmann said. “None of us knows what is going to happen, none of us knows how long recovery is going to be or how fast.”

While the number of homes being sold has declined significantly, housing prices have not followed suit — at least not yet.

In fact, prices are slightly higher overall.

The benchmark price for a single family home in OMREB’S region actually rose between roughly 2 and 3 per cent.

In the Central Okanagan, the benchmark price for a single family home is pegged at $678,300, up by 3.1 per cent from this time last year.

In the North Okanagan, the price has jumped by 2.9 per cent to $485,400.

Home prices in the Shuswap also rose to $435,100, which represents a 2.2 per cent hike.

But what will happen with those prices over the coming months as B.C.’s economy slowly re-opens remains to be seen.

“It really will depend on what buyers and sellers will decide to do,” Heizmann said, “because the buyers and sellers are the ones who really determine the market.”

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