When the coronavirus pandemic forced provinces and territories to impose strict lockdown measures, there was a lot of concern regarding the impact it would have on the Canadian economy. The early data indicators suggest that the road to recovery for a lot of industries has started. This includes the nation’s hot housing market.
At the onset of the public health crisis, many jurisdictions declared real estate services to be an essential service. The swift decision prevented a full-blown collapse of the housing industry. Although a lot of cities experienced mild to significant weakness in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, the nation’s real estate market has remained relatively stable – both within Canada’s major cities and those living in the shadows of the country’s urban centres.
The Kamloops housing market has been one of many local markets hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. But has there been a rebound after that first rocky month of March?
Kamloops Housing Market on the Rebound?
The Kamloops housing market is in the process of a V-shaped recovery, according to the latest data from the Kamloops and District Real Estate Association (KADREA).
In June, residential unit sales rose 8.2 per cent from the same time a year ago. The average price for a home increased nearly ten per cent to $456,782, new listings climbed 55.2 per cent, and sales of single-family houses edged up 2.3 per cent. Overall, the average price for a Kamloops home was $456,872.
This was a continuation from the significant rebound in May when there was a 45 per cent jump in sales and an 8.6 per cent boost in housing prices.
Wendy Runge, the president of KADREA, anticipates a big jump in new sales in the coming months as more COVID-19 restrictions are eased and supply figures improve.
“It is great to see sales numbers improving in the region. The market has, in fact, performed better this month than last year,” said Runge in a news release. “I believe that Realtors have also adapted quickly to changing business practices. The sales in June signify that if we keep doing what we are doing, the impact of the pandemic on the real estate markets could be softened through the rest of the year.”
“I would call this a ‘muted recovery’ in the market. But this also means that things are improving, and better days are ahead,” she added.
Does this mean Kamloops is out of the woods? Mayor Ken Christian recently told Radio NL 610 AM that he does not think the city’s real estate sector has experienced the full impact of the coronavirus.
“That will trickle into Kamloops, because it will affect the Lower Mainland first and a lot of off-shore buyers there won’t be coming with the regularity that they were. That in turn will affect people in the Lower Mainland from selling out and buying up in the Interior,” said Mayor Christian. “That will take some time to occur. But Kamloops is still a bargain and still a great city. And I think people who do their homework and have a solid business case will come to that realization.”
So, while the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) forecasts a steep drop of as much as 18 per cent in home prices over the next 12 months, not everyone shares this bearish outlook.
Kamloops and the Post-Pandemic Market
So, how will Kamloops continue to gain momentum now that the worst of the pandemic’s impact seems to have passed?
The first factor that will help this local market is the Bank of Canada (BoC)’s decision to slash interest rates by 150 basis points to 0.25 per cent. With the central bank suggesting that historically low rates are here to stay for the foreseeable future, borrowing costs might never be lower again for homebuyers and investors.
Although real estate offices around town were closed, realtors were still hard at work. The industry adapted very well to the ongoing pandemic by leaning on technology to provide clients with virtual tours and electronic documents. Agents could show prospects as many as ten properties without having to set foot inside the homes.
With life returning to some semblance of normalcy, open houses are becoming more common again. Real estate professionals are adopting virus prevention protocols. While in-person showings are acceptable, buyers are required to socially distance and wash their hands before and after the open house. Still, according to KANDREA, prospects remain heavily interested in virtual offerings.
Until the virtual demand wanes, Kamloops realtors are prepared to maintain their digital infrastructure.
Kamloops’ Housing Recovery Will Be Bold and Unscripted
British Columbia is transitioning into the third phase of its reopening plan that relaxes COVID-19 restrictions. That said, the province had very few cases to begin with as it swiftly and successfully contained the outbreak. Despite B.C. moving to stage three, officials are still encouraging everyone to be proactive and resilient to limit the potential of a second wave.
Kamloops is often described as a city for all seasons, and summer in this city is one of life’s greatest treasures. Could the excellent scenic views and numerous parks and resorts contribute to the industry’s recovery in the next few months? To echo Kamloops’ slogan, its path to recovery will be “boldly unscripted.” As an affordable market within a province infamous for sky-high housing prices, Kamloops will continue to serve as an attractive destination for real estate hopefuls, a factor which will undoubtedly help the city’s long term path to recovery.