This article, written by Jeremy Deutsch of Kamloops This Week appeared in the Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 newspaper and online.
After years of slim pickings for rental accommodations, the vacancy rate in Kamloops has finally risen to a healthier level. According to new figures from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the apartment vacancy rate in the city during October increased to 2.6 per cent, up from 1.5 per cent the previous year.
Two years ago, finding a place to rent was a far more daunting task as the vacancy rate plunged to just 0.4 per cent. Paul Fabri, a market analyst with the CMHC, suggested there are a couple of factors for the increase, including a jump in the number of renters turning into homeowners in the past 18 months. He said people have been drawn to ownership by low interest rates and dropping prices in the real-estate market.
Fabri also noted an increase in the number of investor-owned condos and secondary suites in town. However, the vacancy rate in Kamloops still remains one of the lowest in the province, with communities like Prince George, Kelowna and Nanaimo all above the three per cent mark.
According to the CHMC’s numbers, there’s more than just a river that separates the north and south shores. The biggest increase in available units came on the North Shore, as the vacancy rate rose to 3.9 per cent from 1.9 per cent the previous year. The vacancy rate on the South Shore sits at 1.5 per cent. Fabri said greater employment opportunities are drawing people to the South Shore.
The CMHC only surveys purpose-built rental accommodations — such as apartment buildings — and not suites or condos rented out by owners.
Though it may be easier to find a place to live in Kamloops, it won’t necessarily be any cheaper. The average rent in the Tournament Capital has remained steady at $742, down slightly from $747 the previous year.
It would be no surprise a greater demand for units on the South Shore comes with a higher cost of rent. The average rent is $784, compared to $694 on the North Shore.
The CMHC is predicting vacancy rates to remain steady in the short term, but creep lower in the coming years as the province’s economy rebounds from the recession.