The positive Canada LNG announcement has swept Kitimat’s housing market almost clean of available properties and buyers are now looking to Terrace.
At the end of September, there were 94 properties of all types available in Kitimat, according to the latest quarterly report from the BC Northern Real Estate Board. But since LNG Canada’s green light of the $40 billion project Oct. 2, “not anymore,” according to a Re/Max managing broker for Terrace and Kitimat.
“We’ve sold quite a few in the last little while,” said Sheila Love, five days after the announcement. “The inventory in Kitimat is probably down to no more than three or four homes on the market right now, if that.”
At press time, the Re/Max Kitimat Realty website showed 48 properties as available, but Love said most have accepted offers on them and will be taken down online once conditions under the sales agreement are met.
She said a similar rush for property occurred during Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter rebuild in 2011 but that was “nothing” compared to what Realtors are seeing now. The sales-to-active ratio, or the rate at which properties are selling, stayed at a decent 18 per cent from this time last year in Kitimat with a few fluctuations. But with almost no listings now left on the market, Love forecasts the percentage will skyrocket to 80 per cent come November.
“Realtors in Kitimat are just run off their feet. They’re getting calls from all over from people wanting to write offers and invest in this area, and now Terrace is getting the overflow because there’s a lack of inventory in Kitimat,” Love said.
“Also because of speculation the housing market is going to increase in Terrace. It’s crazy times here.”
At the end of September Realtors in Terrace sold 262 properties in the first nine months of 2018, compared to 178 properties during the same period last year. The dollar value of these sales also increased by 52 per cent, from $49.1 million to $75.5 million.
For September, the sales-to-active ratio hit 15 per cent in Terrace but is forecast to rise as more people move into the area and fewer properties become available. At press time, there were 155 properties available for purchase through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), down from the 199 properties reported at the end of the month.
“People are wanting to get into the area. When LNG is finished, even though the workers are going to be flown in and flown out, it still brings a lot of industry to the area to service the LNG plant,” Love said.
The number of single-family homes sold in Terrace also rose by 38 per cent from this time last year, from 107 to 148. Half of those homes sold for less than $317,500 and took on average 45 days to sell.
The lack of inventory in Kitimat and rising demand for property has presented itself to some as an opportunity to hike prices within the first week following the announcement. Love said some people have made incremental increases while others have doubled their asking price. The market for a ready to move in single-family home is estimated to be around $320,000.
“It’s still affordable to live up here but a lot of people are going to get a great return on their homes,” she said. “It’s a good time to be a seller right now.”