Terrace housing market eases up

Latest rental and housing stats show modest rise in vacancies

The most recent statistics from a federal agency that tracks vacancy rates and average prices indicates the tight rental housing market in Terrace is easing up.

Last year at this time, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) semi-annual report showed an overall Terrace apartment vacancy rate clocking in at zero, but this year the percentage of available units is up to 3.4 per cent.

Much of this rise appears to be due to the availability of two-bedroom apartments which has risen from zero to 5.6 per cent vacancy. The availability of bachelor units in apartment buildings is still at zero and one-bedrooms vacancy has risen only marginally to 0.8. Aside from apartment building vacancies, CMHC also looks at vacancies in row houses for the same kind of units.

Combined with these vacancy rates for rentals within row houses, the overall vacancy rate in Terrace is 2.5, up from 0.4 last year at this time.

According to RE/MAX realtor John Evans, the slight slackening of demand can also be seen in the number of houses currently for sale.

Last year in December there were only 20 family-sized houses for sale, whereas this year there are 67 available homes on the market—a 30 per cent rise, that Evans points out mirrors the rise in available apartment rentals.

The reasons for the rise in rental availability Evans feels can be partially attributed to the wrapping up of  BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line construction and the departure of those working for the project’s prime contractor, Valard.

“I would expect that the loss of the Valard crew that was here has a lot to do with that because a lot of those guys were coming in and would have been single guys,” said Evans. “They wouldn’t be buying, so that impacted our rental market.”

He said that the surge of workers in Kitimat for projects there might have levelled off a bit too, which would mean less pressure on neighbouring Terrace.

The CMHC study, that looked at the month of October in 2013 and 2014 shows the average rental price has gone up in each category. The average price of a bachelor has risen from $521 to $544, the average price of a one-bedroom has gone up from $595 to $639, two-bedrooms from $691 to $833 and three-bedrooms have risen on average from $874 to $911 in that one year span.

Other factors influencing the vacancy rate could be homeowners responding to the demand from renters by offering to rent out single rooms.

City stats also show that this summer six permits to build or fix up six secondary suites were granted which would have added housing options.