Last week there were 37 family dwellings listed for sale in Nelson. At the same time last year there were 60, and in May 2014 there were 110.
But the number of potential buyers has not gone down.
“The number of people wanting to buy has overwhelmed the market,” says David Gentles, a Nelson native who has been selling real estate here for 36 years. He calls the current real estate market “fast and furious.”
At the time of the Star’s interview with Gentles last week, eight of those 37 houses had offers on them. Some had multiple offers.
“That is fairly unusual, and when you get into that kind of position, people tend to pay a fairly high price, to above asking price,” Gentles said.
At this point in 2015 there were 45 sales of single family residences including condos, and this year there have been 55, according to Wayne Germaine, a 29-year veteran of Nelson real estate sales.
Forty-eight of those sold for between $200,000 and $500,000 and six sold for over $500,000. The average Nelson sale price in 2015 was $352,000, and this year so far it is $368,000.
“The current market is very active,” Germaine says. “There is a surplus of buyers and a lack of inventory. Last year you were paying on average $180 per square foot for your house and land. So if you had a 2,000 square foot house you would be paying $360,000. This year the average per foot cost is $200. So it is about a ten per cent difference.”
And he says sales are happening faster this year: last year the average number of days on the market for a residential listing was 147 days, and this year so far it is 92.
“That is an average,” he says. “Some places are selling within days or a week.”
Gentles says this fast market is a mixed blessing for realtors.
“The tough part is if four realtors have presented offers, only one is going to succeed. So for us as realtors it is more of a pain, a market that is unstable like that. You are working and competing harder. And you don’t want to talk a person into doing something that will take them beyond their comfort level, so it is an interesting conundrum.”
Where are the buyers coming from?
“Historically we have found that around 35 per cent of sales are to people from outside the area,” Gentles says, “and that could be Cranbrook, Toronto, Alberta, Okanagan, Vancouver.”
Germaine agrees it’s a mix.
“It is a healthy mix of people moving to Nelson, young families and healthy retirees. Albertans are still part of it. For many of them their dream is to be here, but it has not increased. Then you get a lot of locals moving around.”
Why are people moving here?
“I am dealing with some people looking to retirement fairly soon,” says Gentles. “But Nelson attracts young people, and they have kids, and the grandparents come with their retirement money. It’s different from Trail and Castlegar. Young people come here because of the lifestyle.”
Germaine says Nelson is known outside the area as a strong community and economy.
“They see it as a healthy, fun place to live. I hear that from many people. One buyer I am dealing with is retiring from Ontario and wanted to move to the Kelowna area to be with their retired friends. They went to Kelowna and they were priced out. They can’t afford anything there, so their friends told them to look at Nelson. That is how they got here. People who have camped here or holidayed here say their dream is to move to Nelson. There are a lot of them, and more coming.”
Germaine doesn’t think Nelson will go the way of Kelowna.
“We are more remote, so people have to really want to be here. We don’t have the land base to build as much as they have there, or the job opportunities.”