by | Dec 26, 2021 | Real Estate

Kelowna real estate is experiencing a boom, with the median price for a single family home topping $1 million. That’s according to a Royal LePage Housing Price Survey and Market Forecast released in October.

Related: Sotheby’s president on growing confidence among Gen Z about owning a home despite affordability concerns

More specifically, the median price was $1,025,000. The year previous it was $838,000. And according to a RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook Report for 2022, prices in Kelowna are projected to leap nine per cent this upcoming year. That would make Kelowna real estate among the hottest in Western Canada.

According to the RE/MAX study, regions such as Victoria, Nanaimo, Regina and Kelowna also experienced an influx of buyers in search of larger properties and greater affordability, which is likely to continue pushing demand and prices up in 2022. This trend has notably increased demand for single-family detached homes and in some regions, condos as well, which may continue in 2022.

With that in mind, we thought it would be good to chat with real estate pros at ground level there, for the day-to-day picture. We spoke with Faith Wilson, CEO and President of faithwilson/Christie’s International Real Estate. The brokerage hopes to expand from a half-dozen realtors in the Okanagan Valley to more than 30 in coming months.

How much does demand for real estate in Kelowna have to do with people’s fatigue with big-city living, specifically Vancouver?

The pandemic has resulted in major changes to our lives, including how and where we work. People have been reevaluating their living spaces and craving a healthier, calmer lifestyle with easy access to nature, peace, tranquillity and activities.

Keeping your big city job while living in a town like Penticton or Kelowna has become an important motivating factor, especially for luxury home-buyers looking to invest their money in a well-established, promising luxury market like the Okanagan Valley. We’ve been seeing the region attracting more people from cities in Canada including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto.

Kelowna Real Estate Seven Stones Winery 4

Seven Stones Winery listing

What’s the appeal of Kelowna from a luxury lifestyle/living perspective?

The Okanagan is home to many of the world’s top vineyards, wineries, lakes, beaches and ski resorts — and has been recognized as a luxury real estate destination for many years. Meanwhile, the regional economy is diversifying and expanding, with downtown Kelowna emerging as one of Western Canada’s most important economic hubs.

Well served by an international airport, Kelowna is experiencing more investment in the tech industry, creative sector, tourism, agriculture and education. It continues to attract buyers of some of the most breathtaking properties you’ll find anywhere.

The concept of luxury is also changing. For many, luxury doesn’t necessarily mean just fine finishings and vast homes. But it’s increasingly attached to our desire for sustainability, wellness, peace, green space and beauty.

Kelowna Real Estate Seven Stones Winery 2

Seven Stones Winery listing

What can you share about the luxury market in Kelowna – average sale price, what those prices buy you, any other sales numbers that support your opinion about the market?

The real estate market has been very hot in the past year, and Kelowna is no exception. While home prices did increase, Kelowna still skews on the affordable side compared to larger cities like Vancouver and Toronto, even when it comes to luxury listings.  In particular, the average benchmark price for a single family home in the third quarter of this year was $923,500 in the Kelowna region, which is up 27% from the same period last year.

Kelowna Real Estate Seven Stones Winery 5

Seven Stones Winery listing

Although many single family homes are averaging the $1M mark in Kelowna, this is still much more reasonable than Vancouver and other parts of the province. We would consider a luxury home in the Okanagan context to start at roughly $2.5-$3 million. In that range, you’re likely to have a home on a spacious lot with a view of the lake or a vineyard, with custom features and finishes, landscaping and privacy features.

Over $3 million would purchase a more exclusive home with luxury finishes, privacy, water frontage in some instances, as well as extensive landscaping on a much larger piece of land.  Over the past year, 109 properties have sold over $3 million in the Central Okanagan region, which includes Kelowna. We feel this shows a rising interest for luxury properties in this market. Sales could be even higher except we continue to face a low inventory.

What are some of the factors that will drive this housing boom that you are projecting?

Kelowna is emerging as one of Western Canada’s most important urban centres and is experiencing major investment in the regional economy. The city’s downtown core is emerging as a major economic and cultural hub, while the University of British Columbia Okanagan and the international airport continue to expand. Additionally, as professionals increasingly shift to remote work, regions like the Okanagan attract many young professionals to move and escape from the city.

With the fast-growing population and a diversifying, expanding economy, these people need a place to live in, creating a housing boom in the Okanagan. The region is showing signs of becoming a serious metro centre that will elevate the luxury and recreational experience of owners and investors. 

And finally, what makes life in Kelowna unique/special?

Nestled in the heart of British Columbia’s sun-drenched Okanagan Valley, Kelowna is a go-to vacation spot for many Canadians year-round thanks to its world-class vineyards, great weather and fantastic food scene. The city offers a vibrant cultural life and is close to Vancouver when you need or miss the big city amenities.

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