The past year was another big one for the Terrace and area real estate market with the total value of all the houses sold through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) mirroring 2013, a year which saw home prices swell to levels unseen since the 1990s.According to the BC Northern Real Estate Board’s annual report, a total of 351 Terrace and area properties of all kinds through MLS changed hands in 2014 worth $87.3 million, 177 of them being single detached homes with an average selling price of $302,000.
The median price for the 177 single detached homes sold was $294,000, meaning that half sold for less than that amount and half sold for more than that.
In 2013, there were 384 properties of all kinds worth $87.8 million sold and the average selling price of a single detached home was $251,477. In 2012, there were 190 units sold averaging $215,778.
Local director of the BC Northern Real Estate Board John Evans says the surge in home purchases which drove prices up is a result of the low rental vacancy rates which made buying a preferable option for people living in Terrace.
Large construction projects like BC Hydro’s now-finished Northwest Transmission Line and the Rio Tinto Alcan Kitimat Modernization Project in Kitimat, which saw many workers come to the area, drove up rental prices which in turn spurred housing purchases, he said.
“If you’re taking a look at rent for $1,500 a month and you have a mortgage rate at three per cent, you are better off to buy,” said Evans, explaining the buy-not-rent logic of the past couple years.
Another factor in driving up demand is people moving to the area because of all the talk of a resource awaking, specifically the prospect of a regional liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, in the area, Evans added.
It meant people who might not normally consider settling down here now desire to do so, he said.
While the pre-work for LNG as well as the speculation of an LNG boom was part of the buying surge, Evans said current housing prices have dampened the speculation market.
Evans notes that the real estate board numbers of the past several years show that those who invested back in 2011 and 2012 in speculation on LNG saw a good return on their investments.
“They are risk takers, and their bet paid off because if you take a look at what the average price [of a single family home] was Jan. 1, 2011 compared to today, it’s increased by over $100,000,” he said.
This year will see more of a mixture of single family homes and condos and townhouses, projects which got their start last year, coming on the market.