New Changes To Strata Laws Benefit Owners, Buyers and Renters In B.C.

This news release came out from the Ministry of Housing and Social Development September 21, 2009. Do you think these changes will affect the sale of strata real estate in Kamloops?

Changes to the Strata Property Act will create more rental housing and improve the dispute resolution process for strata owners and strata corporations, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman announced today.

“These amendments will help owners and buyers protect their hard-earned investments,” said Coleman. “As well, in new strata developments, owners, tenants and buyers will have greater flexibility to rent a strata unit, creating more rental units, which we know are in demand in our tight housing market here in British Columbia.”

The proposals will mean that new strata corporations cannot change rules about rental units that impact the rights of owners and purchasers or the marketability of the units. Owners will be able to continue to rent their units until the date the rental period originally disclosed by the developer expires. Existing strata owners will not be affected by the change.

“We support legislative amendments that will result in more rental units coming onto the market,” said Martha Lewis, executive director of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre. “It is upsetting to have condo units sitting empty at a time when many people are searching for appropriate housing. The sooner the amendments come into effect, the better.”

The proposed changes will allow disputes to be heard in Small Claims Court, rather than the B.C. Supreme Court. Strata corporations and strata owners will also be able to use arbitration or mediation rather than going to court. Strata corporations will have to provide audited financial statements and obtain depreciation reports to help them prepare for future repairs or upgrades. Owners and potential buyers will be able to access these reports.

The amendments also confirm that strata corporations can set age restriction bylaws to create adult and seniors’ communities, under both the Strata Property Act and the BC Human Rights Code.

The Strata Property Act provides a framework for the creation and operation of strata developments in British Columbia and sets out the guidelines under which strata corporations must operate. Amendments were previously introduced earlier in 2009.

Seumas Gordon: Media Relations Officer,  Ministry of Housing and Social Development Phone: 250 387-6490


B.C. Real Estate Association’s Housing Forecast for 2009 to 2010

The B.C. Real Estate Association released their Spring 2009 housing report recently. I have included the Kamloops specific information below from this report. Click here for the full report from BCREA.

Homes sales in Kamloops are beginning to rebound from the lows experience during the fall and winter months. While the weaker provincial economy will continue to impact housing demand, sales activity is expected to improve through the balance of the year. A sizable increase in affordability is beginning to increase first-time buyer activity in the marketplace. The combination of lower home prices and historically low mortgage interest rates has made homes more affordable than at any time in the last two years. At the beginning of April, the carrying cost on the average priced home was 24 per cent less than a year ago. An increase in first-time buyers lubricates the chain of ownership by allowing move-up buyers to more easily sell their current homes and complete their new purchase.

While home sales are expected to improve in the coming months, low sales levels in the first quarter will pull down the annual total. MLS® residential sales in Kamloops are forecast to decline a further 17 per cent to 1,860 units this year. A moderate improvement is expected in 2010, with MLS® residential sales expected to climb 8 per cent to 2,000 units.

Recent data suggests market conditions in Kamloops are improving. Active listings are trending lower with home sales edging higher. The large imbalance between supply and demand that was evident early in the year is beginning to wane. A continuation of this trend will likely cause home prices to stabilize in the next quarter. The average annual MLS® residential price is forecast to be 9 per cent lower this year. However, most of this decline has already occurred and more price stability is expected for the balance of the year.

Housing starts in the Kamloops CA will follow the provincewide pull-back this year. Housing starts are forecast to decline 45 per cent to 320 units in 2009 and then increase 14 per cent to 365 in 2010. Slowing growth in the housing stock will help stabilize home prices by reducing the total number of homes available for purchase in Kamloops.

BCREA website.

B.C. Housing Prices Still Under Pressure To Fall

This article was written by Derrick Penner of the Vancouver Sun today. The Kamloops real estate market has seen downward pressure on housing prices over the last nine months. This article states that we will see continued pressure on housing prices for some time to come. Read below for the full story.

While British Columbia real estate sales have lifted from last fall’s dismal lows, market oversupply and deteriorating economic conditions will still pressure prices downwards, according to Scotia Economics.

March and April saw “pretty strong sales volumes” across the country, said Adrienne Warren, a senior economist with Scotia Economics, the Bank of Nova Scotia’s economic-research division. However, “prices are not really firming up [in B.C.] as we’ve seen in some other parts of the country,” she said Tuesday. “There is still a bit of correction going on in a lot of western markets: Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, where they are still working through some overshooting of prices and excess supply.” That, she added, will mean “a little more downward pressure on prices” than what is occurring in central and Atlantic Canada.

The area of Metro Vancouver covered by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver saw 2,963 sales recorded through the realtor-operated Multiple Listing Service in April, which was down eight per cent from the 3,218 sales recorded in April 2008. That number, however, represented a 31-per-cent jump over March 2009 sales, a month that typically shows more sales than April.

And while Metro Vancouver’s main real estate board reported that inventories of new, unsold listings declined for the sixth straight month, Warren said Vancouver still has an oversupply of unsold homes, both among new homes under construction and in the resale market. “It was a much more unbalanced market six months ago,” Warren said, “and we’re beginning to see a fairly sharp drop-off in new listings.”

That drop, she added, shows that Canadians, in general, aren’t being forced into selling homes or being foreclosed on like troubled buyers in the United States.

At the same time, according to Scotia Economics’ calculations, the pace of MLS home sales to April in Metro Vancouver, expressed as an annualized figure, is running almost 25 per cent below the pace of sales in 2008. Scotia Economics’ average price in Metro Vancouver of $494,485, also expressed on an annualized basis, is down 17 per cent from an annualized average price of $593,767 in 2008. “You’ll probably see prices stabilize over the next six months,” Warren said, “at least by the end of the year.”

She anticipates prices will continue that stable trend in 2010 without much of a sharp rebound, largely because of B.C.’s deteriorating economic conditions and rising unemployment. “Low interest rates, tax incentives by the federal government and more choice in the marketplace have done what they should in a cyclical pattern,” Warren said, “which is bringing buyers back into the market.” “But you’ve got to remember the gains we’re seeing are after very low levels late last year.” The report said a rise in demand and drop in new listings has resulted in the market moving closer to “balanced.”

B.C.’s Real Estate Sales Are Half What They Were A Year Ago

Here is an article published today by Derrick Penner of the Vancouver Sun.

Sales in British Columbia’s real estate market so far in 2008 are about half of what they were a year ago, although the pace has risen from a particularly dismal low point, according to the British Columbia Real Estate Association.

In February, B.C. recorded 3,653 sales through the Multiple Listing Service, down almost 47 per cent from February 2008. The average property price of $421,023 was down 12 per cent. Over the first two months, B.C. saw 5,768 sales, down 51 per cent from the same period in 2008. The pace of sales, however, increased 17 per cent in February, association economist Cameron Muir said in an interview, to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 47,000 sales from the low of 40,200 units in January.

Recreation-oriented markets such as the Okanagan, Kamloops, Kootenays and Vancouver Island — which boomed in recent years due to an influx of wealthy Alberta buyers — are seeing some of the steepest declines. “That’s not surprising,” Muir said. “Recreational-property and investment buying decisions are much more easily put off.” Alberta is suffering its own economic contraction with consequent job losses, and Muir said Albertans have seen their property markets and values decline, curbing their enthusiasm for discretionary purchases.

The Okanagan Mainline board, which includes Kelowna, saw 230 MLS sales in February, down 60 per cent from the same month a year ago. The region’s average price of $276,776 was down 28 per cent from February 2008.

In Kamloops, MLS sales plummeted by almost 60 per cent to 92 units compared with the same month a year ago. There, the average price was down almost 14 per cent to $277,088.

The South Okanagan board, which includes the summer hot spots of Osoyoos and Penticton, saw sales drop almost 59 per cent to 61 units in February. The average price dipped just over 10 per cent to $283,634.

Vancouver Island saw its sales dip almost 50 per cent to 328 units compared with February 2008. The average price was down just over 11 per cent to $291,085.

Muir said that given the weakness of B.C.’s economy, he would expect real-estate sales levels to be similar to those during the downturn of the late 1990s. He said that means there is room for more activity in the market from current levels, which mirror the recession of the early 1980s. He said buyers are being drawn in by declining prices, and low mortgage rates have helped reduce the carrying cost of an average home to a three-year low. However, Muir still expects 2009 sales to drop from 2008 levels and has forecast that the decline will be about nine per cent. “A rebound in home sales [in 2009] over past highs is not on the radar,” Muir added.

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