Real estate activity in March just continued where February left off with unit sales up almost 29% over March of last year with 516 properties of all types changing hands. That means year to date our market is up 23.5% over last year. Our listing inventory is now starting to build as 1,205 new properties came on to the market in March for a total listing inventory of 3,551 which is still about 300 fewer listings than last year at this time but is up about 280 more than in February.
Percentage wise for March, townhouses had the greatest gain in sales at 44% increase over last year with condos following closely behind at 42%. Single family homes, which make up the bulk of the sales, were up over 30%. As far as average price goes, single family homes have held steady at $487,700 year to date but the median price is up 4% at $462,500. Condos and townhouses have maintained a relatively flat median price but condos are starting to show possible gains.
So far the price of oil has had very little effect on our market but it may be too early to conclude that it won’t. Alberta is now making up about 12% of the buyers, down from 18%, but the biggest jump in purchases is from our own local area where they make up about 65% of all purchases, up about 10% from before. The very low interest rates have definitely helped first time home buyers get into the market and overall consumer confidence is strong. Recently, a BC economist stated that if one is not associated with the oil industry, the BC economy is very good for everyone else. With the resurgence of the US economy demand for BC resources and soft wood lumber is increasing. Tourism is expected to increase with our weaker dollar, particularly with the Americans and one would be pretty hard pressed to find a better tourist destination than the Okanagan valley right now.
As we move into April and May, traditionally two of the busiest months, it will be interesting to see this strong trend continue and how it will be affecting housing prices. As we all know, if the listing inventory cannot keep up with the demand, we will see prices continue to climb. So, if you have been sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to make your first purchase or move up into another home, now might be the best time to actually do it.