FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2019, photo a sign is displayed outside a house for sale in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. A pullback in mortgage rates has helped boost homebuilder stocks this year after a dismal 2018, when the U.S. housing market slowed under the weight of higher borrowing costs, rising prices and a thin supply of homes for sale. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Okanagan real estate market heads into spring

Residential sales rose in March per report from Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB)

Houses are taking longer to sell in the Okanagan compared to this time last year.

Residential housing sales from Revelstoke to Peachland saw a 13 per cent decrease from March 2018.

With 545 sales this March, it was an increase from February’s 407 sales, according to a report from OKREB.

According to the report, March was in line with a typical busy spring market with average sale prices of $510,435, which was four per cent above February and two per cent lower than March 2018.

“Interestingly, average days on market, a gauge of how long it takes for homes to sell, rose to 92 days from February’s 88 days and last March’s 79 days,” said OMREB president Marv Beer. “Usually, when activity increases we see the average days’ indicator shorten, yet here we’re seeing the opposite.”

READ MORE: Residential sales in Okanagan fizzle

READ MORE: Real estate consultants predict renting in Kelowna will get easier

The report states that despite a 44 per cent increase in new listings in February, the supply of homes for sale decreased from 12 per cent over the month’s inventory.

“Despite steady increases in new listings over the past several months, housing supply is light as we head into the spring market, which is concerning and points to a problem we’ve been stressing for a while: a generalized lack of housing supply,” said Beer.

“There are troubling trickle-down effects with these one-sided government policies, especially for young families trying to put a roof over their heads.”

READ MORE: Kelowna realtor investigating “earth homes” for the Okanagan

If Millennials, currently the largest first-time home buying group, can’t buy, they will likely stay renting longer, spelling bad news for rental markets already facing plenty of competition for few vacancies. If housing supply stays low, those who still qualify under the new stricter mortgage rules may find increased competition for scarce housing, often a catalyst that drives up pricing, the report said.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s first zero waste grocery store has successful first day

“At the end of the day, the answer likely lies in governments doing things differently and it’s likely a basket of actions to fuel creation of a spectrum of affordable housing to accommodate a range of population requirements,” said Beer in the report.

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