Real estate sales in the entire Kootenay region have been brisk for almost a year, and Kimberley is no different. Houses are selling almost as quickly as they hit the market. But there is a downside to the boom. There is growing concern about the lack of inventory.
Darren Close, managing broker for Royal LePage East Kootenay Realty, says he has been selling homes in Kimberley and area for over 15 years, and he has never seen inventory levels this low.
“Usually there are 80 to 100 single family homes on the market,” he said. “Right now there are 19, with six on offer already. That’s crazy low.”
Close says inventory levels have been shifting into the lower range for the past five years, but have really lowered since COVID-19.
The difference, he says, is that many people have realized they can work from home, and that allows them to live wherever they want.
“It’s all about demand,” he said of the shrinking inventory. “People can live where they want to live. Telus brought fibre in to Kimberley and it’s a robust little town with a warm vibe. It’s not necessarily getting people to list homes that’s the problem, it’s population growth. The market place isn’t meeting demand.”
Even developments currently underway are usually pre-sold before they are finished, he said.
“We need more product. We need more land to come to market, more rental buildings, townhouses — like the Watkins School site, that’s a great development.”
A hot market can stress the rental market as well, Close says. Rent can only increase so much before the landlord decides to sell, he said. And it’s really tough for buyers.
The international school, when built, will add to demand, he said, as parents will want to have a place to stay when they visit their kids. And a lot of owners are living in their condos now, which then presents a challenge for tourist accommodators, reducing the number of units available for short term rental.
“There is no short term solution. But there has to be some discussion with developers, and the city about available land. If we don’t do something it will just burden those of us living here, cost wise.”
When asked for comment, Mayor Don McCormick said that there is not a lot the city can do itself.
“As a municipality, we do not control the major considerations that impact housing inventory: the Rental Tennancy Act that right now discourages being a landlord. We do not directly control developer engagement – who they are or what they wish to build; and we do not control how investment properties are managed (long term versus short term). What we do control is the environment that either encourages or discourages investment. Land availability and approving and processing permits are key for developers and builders.
“Staff are working hard to keep pace. You can understand their challenge when only once since 2012 have there been more new dwellings created than demand from net population growth.”