Well-priced detached homes in Happy Valley continue to be popular with first-time buyers.

HOMEFINDER: Real estate market has summer sizzle

Delayed busy season shifts entire selling cycle for 2014

Some West Shore real estate agents were a little concerned when the typical post-winter housing market upswing took a while to materialize.

Patience has paid off for buyers, sellers and Realtors alike, however, as the market showed better than expected results for a typically slower period of the year, summer holiday time.

“Typically the strongest selling season is the spring, so that’s why we were saying, ‘what’s happening?’ It was so slow to take off,” said Jean Omelchenko of DFH Real Estate West Shore.

“It was a slower spring, (but) the spring spilled into the summer and it’s just carried on. Actually it’s the busiest August we’ve had in a long time.”

The figures released by the Victoria Real Estate Board this week showed significant improvement over the previous year. Last month 609 properties were sold, a 12-per-cent increase over the 540 sold in August 2013.

Sooke-based board president Tim Ayres sounded thrilled with the continued strong showing.

“When July numbers came in higher than we expected based on the past five years of sales activity, I think a lot of people were surprised,” he said. “But sure enough, the market outperformed last year’s sales again in August and we’ve had the busiest August we’ve seen in five years.”

It’s not just a summer blip: year-to-date sales for the region are running at a 10.5-per-cent better clip than by this time in 2013.

September, usually after school begins in earnest, is when things typically kick into gear again after the late-summer lull, Omelchenko said. While it’s uncertain whether the teacher’s strike may affect the decisions of some people to buy or sell their home, she said, all indications are that the market will continue to be brisk.

The word “balanced” continues to come up in descriptions of the market, a scenario in which neither buyers nor sellers have a distinct advantage. The absence of pricing pressures caused by a lack of supply – which caused bidding wars in past – coupled with still-low mortgage rates, has been key to maintaining that trend.

While specific figures for the West Shore as a region were not available at the Gazette press time, Ayres pointed out that the Home Price Index benchmark price for a typical single family home in the Greater Victoria core was $491,500, less than $5,000 more than last year. Despite a temporary glut of supply in the local condominium market as development projects have come on stream, the benchmark prices for condos and townhouses have both risen by about 2.5 per cent in the past year.

Continuing to pace the market on the West Shore, Omelchenko said, are first-time homebuyers who are still eagerly snapping up new or fairly new homes in fast-growing areas such as Happy Valley in Langford.

The small-lot designs, which offer a variety of square-foot configurations to accommodate everyone from those just starting out or people scaling down, to growing families, appeal to many people, she said.

“What I find is the young people, they don’t want the big yard, but they want newer homes. The young people are who drives the market and if that’s what they want, that’s what they’re going to get.”

Helping many first-time buyers or those looking to expand is the fact many newer homes in this area have legal suites or are “suite-ready,” Omelchenko added. “Everybody is still looking for that mortgage helper.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Q: WHAT CAN I DO TO CREATE CURB APPEAL FOR A FALL SALE?

There are a number of ways to enhance the look of your home for sale as summer moves into fall.

Extra moisture in the air – not necessarily the downpour the West Shore and the rest of Greater Victoria received Tuesday – helps green up your lawns. Keep the grass neatly mowed and clear of leaves. There are also plenty of fall flowers available to plant to keep your gardens colourful.

Consider painting your front door a vivid colour and hanging some fall foliage on it as an accent.

Speaking of paint, your home’s exterior would likely benefit from a power wash or fresh coat of paint in certain areas. Also, keep your windows clean.

Clearing out the gutters of leaves and other debris  shows potential buyers you care enough to maintain the home.

And while mid-fall is often the time to break out seasonal decorations for things like Halloween, avoid the ghouls and scarecrows and  keep the decorating to a modest level, so as not to detract from the home itself.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » Month ended Aug. 31 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 609 / 540 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / AUG. 2013

» 904 / 935 — NEW LISTINGS / Aug. 2013

» 4,316 / 4,593 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS PEAK/ Aug. 2013

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