Kimberley Council had a candid conversation around housing needs with local realtor and property manager Darren Close at their last committee of the whole meeting.
Close said that he wanted to talk to council about the entirety of Kimberley’s real estate market, not just single family home sales, but rentals, multi family buildings — all types of housing stock.
“There is a current sense of panic and desperation in the market place today,” he said. “Where we are today was predictable and the continuation of a seven or eight year trend.”
Close added that the COVID pandemic amplified where the market was heading as people discovered they could work remotely.
“It took the trend and threw it out of proportion. We are in a serious situation right now.”
Close fears that we are heading to a situation where local residents being able to afford to buy or rent will not be achievable.
He says he is not speaking simply as a real estate broker but as someone who has invested in property in Kimberley.
“Costs go up every year; water, sewer, property taxes, and they are above what I can get back from any tenant.”
What this leads to, he says, is landlords selling rental properties. But then, once sold, rent goes up. He cites two recent sales where the rents rose 25 and 33 per cent on sales.
“It has a domino affect. The property is no longer reasonable to hold as an investment and the tenant gets displaced.”
Coun. Nigel Kitto noted the problem was not unique to Kimberley.
“With this economy, people are looking at real estate as a short term bet. I don’t know what the answer is. No community has come up with solutions.”
Close wondered if the city had the means to make more land available for residential development as supply was the issue, perhaps the land around the golf course on the ski hill.
There was some discussion as to whether city land should be used for more affordable housing rather than be made available to build more large homes.
It was noted that opening up golf course housing would just attract more wealthy people, perhaps from out of town, to build homes.
Close argued that a lot of locals may want a golf course home as well, and if they sell their current home, it creates a situation where someone else can step up and buy it, providing an opportunity for first time buyers.
“There is no be all and end all solution,” Close said. “Opening one parcel of land is not going to solve it, but it helps.”
“The cost of building is the cost of building,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “Nobody can do anything about it. If you want to be able to afford it, you’re going to need to build smaller. It means living smaller with multi-unit, residential and rental. If we had a supply of decently priced rental, I think the single family will take care of itself.”
McCormick also noted more people wanting to live in Kimberley wasn’t a bad problem to have, but it was not easy to manage.