Saturday, May 14, 2011

Northern Okanagan Snapshot (Sat. Post #2)

The North Okanagan region of our home province of British Columbia is situated in the B.C interior, between the Okanagan Valley and the Shuswap.  The region stretches from the City of Vernon in the south to community of Grindrod in the north.

With a moderate climate producing warm spring weather, hot and sunny summers, mild autumns and temperate winters, the North Okanagan boasts a limitless variety of year-round recreational activities and is considered a vacation playground for both those in the Village on the Edge of the Rainforest... and for oil-rich investors from our next door neighbour province of Alberta.

In fact, one of the most popular ski resorts in BC is the Silver Star Mountain Resort located just north of Vernon.

And Vernon itself is surrounded by 3 beautiful lakes; Kalamalka Lake, Okanagan Lake and Swan Lake.  Many say that the beauty of the surrounding countryside and the excellent recreational facilities such as Silver Star ski resort, have made Vernon a major year-round vacation spot

But as we have covered in other posts, the periphery of Vancouver is suffering mightily from a dramatic real estate downturn.

And the Northern Okanagan region is being hit particularly hard. 

Real Estate statistics are out for the month of April and sales are down 70% from the boom years. Even during the slowdown in 2008/2009, total unit sales were much higher than this past month:
  • 2006: 265
  • 2007: 266
  • 2008: 179
  • 2009: 127
  • 2010: 189
  • 2011:   86
The Northern Okanagan is considered a vacation playground and as the local R/E advertisement photo posted above states, you buy here to 'live it up'.

The problem is... when a financial crunch begins in earnest, the first luxuries to be sacrificed are the vacation homes.

The Northern Okanagan, along with the entire periphery of Vancouver, is clearly being sacrificed by both buyers in BC and in Alberta.

Is this a simple downturn?

Or is the decline so much sharper than what we saw in 2008/2009 because what we are witnessing is actually the proverbial canary in the coal mine?

Click 'comments' below to contribute to this post.
Please read disclaimer at bottom of blog.


  1. I spent a week in Vernon 2 years ago on a job.
    Strip malls and fastfood places strung along the main drag,surrounded by dreary treeless scrubby hills.Maybe it's nicer out of town.
    People visit strictly for the surrounding recreation,but who would want to live there?
    The recreation boom is over and Vernon will be a backwater.

  2. Here is a link to some real estate stats for the area...

    They removed the following stat after the May stats were released, I don't know why...

    Year over year the Central Zone average SFH price was up %4, the North Zone(including Vernon) was down YOY %1.7 and the Shushwap Zone was down %9.7. Methinks the melt in pricing has started...

    A buddy of mine just sold his home in Vernon after a year and a bit on the market, and $100,000 below original asking price.

    The canary in the coal mine is taking it's last gasps...

  3. I lived in Vernon between 1986 and 1994 for the summers and agree it is a small town - a very small town. But that being said, those that moved there, moved because it is a small town - anything they want from the "big city", they drive/fly to Vancouver (or elsewhere for). There homes aren't vacation homes, they're homes.

  4. Although your blog post is close to accurate there are always the other side of the coin. We have just sold our home for $92k over what we paid in Jan 2010. It is a beautiful home and funny enough it was bought by an Albertan..

    The City could certainly use more refined and educated professionals within the City Hall Administration and council. Hicks, plain and simple, but it is a beautiful area.

    Caveat - unless the hicks leave the positions of importance and influence to a higher class of professionals this City and surrounding areas will remain an over taxed back water/red neck waste of time and money. Although close to Kelowna they are not of the same ilk or class.

    Yes we are glad to be moving on....