Premier Christy Clark made an announcement on Wednesday, June 29, that the provincial government would end real estate industry self-regulation and place it under government oversight, but the changes aren’t reflective of Powell River’s market, according to Powell River Sunshine Coast Real Estate Board president Neil Frost.
“Christy Clark made a sweeping announcement but nothing has happened since,” said Frost. “We’re going to see if they’re going to listen to what organized real estate has to say, or if they’re just going to impose some changes.”
According to Frost, it appears the industry’s regulatory body is still going to exist, but it will be reformed, reshaped and include more government oversight.
“Most of what the government proposes is as a result of issues in the Lower Mainland and are not issues we and other boards see,” said Frost.
Those issues include overpaying, driving prices up and leaving properties empty.
Frost said the unexpected government announcement creates an image problem for realtors.
“It certainly looks bad,” he said. “It’s easy to dump on the realtors. Overall, it doesn’t look good.”
Clark’s original announcement did made it clear, however, that most realtors are hardworking and honest.
Meanwhile, Powell River realtors have been working hard this year because the market is hot, said Frost.
“The market in Powell River is very active and prices are up,” he said. “It’s a sellers’ market for the last several months. We’re up 15 per cent from a year ago.”
Frost said there is a demand for houses not being met and a need for inventory at all levels, from single family homes to multi-units, rental and ownership.
Powell River’s real estate market had been on a steady decline since the financial crisis of 2008, said Frost, and the industry here is finally regaining the highs prior to the crisis and “looking to surpass them,” he said.
According to Kim Miller, executive director of the Powell River Chamber of Commerce, she hasn’t seen anything like the current market in 20 years.
“Everything is going so fast,” said Miller. “I see all the sold signs everywhere. I see a ‘for sale’ sign go up and two weeks later it’s got a sold sign on it.”
Recent statistics indicate that approximately 50 per cent of buyers are from out of town and the majority of those are from what the industry refers to as the Lower Mainland, which encompasses areas from Squamish to Hope.
Frost said he would describe market increases for home sales as being “incredible” in May and “very, very busy” in June. That does not include foreign investment, which attracts buyers, home sales and people, he said.
“There has been some foreign investment, but mostly in the commercial sector,” said Frost. “So far it hasn’t been a significant amount of residential home sales. There has been foreign investment in hotel properties, we know about the big purchase by the Italian Hall, where they’re not expected to break ground for some time, and the potential purchase of Sino Bright, but that’s not a done deal.”