It’s been a quiet 2020 so far for Powell River real estate.

Powell River/Sunshine Coast Real Estate Board president, Neil Frost, said low inventory, the forestry workers strike, and winter weather have hampered the local market.

“2019 ended overall fairly strong, all the predictions were to have slightly less volume and prices the same or slightly up, which bore true,” Frost said.

“December/January were a little slower. That’s typical season stuff and typical, based on the weather. January was a little quieter. We’re all very hopeful that’s going to bounce back in the spring. All the current forecasts are for a slight increase in volume this year so we’re looking forward to that.”

Frost said that while tighter mortgage rules, including the B-20 “stress test” have been a challenge for every market, there are other factors at play.

“I wouldn’t say that the B-20 is responsible, wholly, for the slowdown here. I would say that’s more due to inventory. We have a low inventory and it hasn’t replenished this year. I hate to call it a slowdown because 2019 was very busy but compared to the previous couple of years – 2016, 2017, 2018… we were down in volume.”

Meanwhile, Frost said the stress test has reduced people’s buying power.

“It absolutely has kept some of the people out of our market but I would say that wasn’t so much as a factor because it was more of an inventory.”

Frost said that because of the tighter mortgage rules, some buyers have been forced to “settle,” so instead of buying a $350,000 home, they had to buy a $300,000 home.

“Even a difference of 20, 30 grand can make a big difference in Powell River,” Frost said.  

He said $350,000 is your starter home now, while $375,000 to $390,000 is “your average price for a decent home.”

Frost added that a house worth $300,000 will likely “need some work,” but for anything under that, you “start getting into the fixer uppers.”

Frost crunched numbers from 2019:

  • dwelling/housing units sold 2019 (excluding raw land, float cabins) – 315
  • total sales 2018 excluding commercial – 401
  • dwelling/housing units sold in 2018 (excluding raw land, float cabins) – 358

“Following a quiet November, home sales rebounded in December to finish the year on a strong note,” Frost said. 

“Despite a tight balance between supply and demand, the average home price was little changed in 2019 compared to 2018 following a number of years of sizable gains.”

He added, “If we would have had 25 more average single family homes to sell we would have sold them all.”