The real estate market in the Okanagan has gone slightly soggy, as ongoing flood concerns in the area appear to be driving some prospective buyers away.
Bill Hubbard, a Vernon-based real estate broker with decades of experience in the business, says homes have begun to stay on the market for longer, and fewer of them are now selling.
He says the slowdown is unusual because, until a few weeks ago, the red-hot real estate market had been seeing homes sell at a blistering pace, with bidding wars and over-priced offers common.
The difference today is not a huge one, he says, but it’s definitely noticeable.
But for people like Sonja Meyers, that small change in the market still hurts.
Meyers says she bought a new home just before the major flooding began with an offer that was conditional on selling her own house, something she said she never thought would be a problem.
“We had looked at a few other houses and every time we called they’d say ‘oh, that house is gone, it sold within six hours.’ So we were certain ours would sell right away as well,” she said.
However, in the three weeks since she’s listed her house she’s only had one person come in to look, and no one is making any offers.
She’s already lowered the price, and is considering doing it again as she races to sell before the offer on her new house expires.
“It really sucks,” she says. “Everyone is worried about flooding, but most of the houses here are on a hill, and flooding isn’t affecting us at all.”
Hubbard says it’s exactly that perception that’s causing Meyers and others to experience the sudden dip in the market.
Real estate activity is based on consumer confidence and consumer focus, he says, and all the news about flooding has an impact on that.
“What the water issue has done in the Okanagan is taken a portion of buyers’ and sellers’ focus away,” he said.
Local buyers are distracted by the floods—in some cases they’ve been directly affected—but Hubbard says he’s also hearing talk among high-end buyers now concerned with potential flooding in the future.
But Hubbard says even people not specifically worried about flooding still might be staying away from the market because of it.
“Consumers like to think that they buy and sell logically, but they really don’t. They buy and sell emotionally, and then justify it with logic,” he says. “The market has mood swings, and it really does. It’s driven by human emotions on mass, and consumer confidence, and it’s very fickle.”
The good news, Hubbard says, is things will likely pick back up again in a few months, once the lakes have receded and flooding beings to leave people’s minds.
Hubbard believes that, not only will things go back to normal, but numbers in the fall will actually rise above what would have been considered normal, as people who temporarily left the market flock back to it.
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