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Finding the right property in a low inventory market.

Colder weather and snow hasn’t put a damper on the red hot real estate market in the Fraser Valley. January home sales in Chilliwack and District posted a 102% increase in year over year monthly sales, as inventories fell to record lows amid the tightest market the area has ever seen. New listings numbers saw a slight increase, but did nothing to calm the unprecedented frenzy of sales activity, which pushed the benchmark single family home price to $661,300, up 13.7% on a year-over-year basis. 

With so many people seeking a limited number of listings, multiple offers are inevitable when a solidly built, properly priced home with green space becomes available. Buyers want to remain in the lower portion of the province where milder winters are the norm, and this had lead the rural expansion of upper Fraser Valley communities once thought to be too 
far out.

The low inventory count is affecting markets across the province and competitive is not the strongest adjective I could use to describe the lengths buyers are willing to go to, beat out other offers and take possession. Listings are sometimes sold before the signs even go up, as the days on market for detached homes is at average 65 days in the Okanagan and the northern regions of the province, and a mind bending 31 days or less in the Fraser Valley. 

That is the goal, to sell your home, and it is an exciting time when you are changing your life course and lifestyle. Most sellers are very happy to close quickly for a profit, and be moving on with their goals and dreams. But the biggest challenge is yet ahead, and clients are unsure about how and where to find a new home on the other side of the close in this fast paced market.

After all, unless they are relocating to a previously purchased second home, these sellers are now competing with all the aggressive buyers on their next purchase. This is no time to go it alone, you need a well thought out plan, and I recommend that you should be already working with a qualified realtor in the area that you are looking to re-enter the market in. There are ways to improve your odds of successfully finding and purchasing property in this low inventory market, some alternative considerations include; 

Building Your Next Home | Building your dream home can take longer than locating and moving to an existing dwelling, but, when faced with only a handful of listings in your price range and areas of choice, building can be a very satisfying process. A brand new for you home customized to your exact needs should be a consideration. Building has its advantages in that your home will be under a warranty and you will have all new appliances and services. If you plan to build you will be seeking bare land or land with older dwellings that has existing services. Assessing and buying vacant land has different down payment requirements and you need to be aware of the extra financial requirements of a bare land loan/mortgage. 

There are rural development subdivisions in many smaller interior communities that offer 1 – 10 acre plots that have pre planned access to outdoor activities and expansive outdoor spaces. Finding a rural development subdivision can make vetting a property easier, as the developer would have had to comply with subdivision title regulations that can eliminate some of the vetting steps needed when buying vacant land. 

Buying a Resort or Recreational Property | After a year of travel restrictions and the potential that we may be safer in our own province for some time to yet to come, purchasing a property or dwelling in a resort areas offer great options for full time living or an escape property that you won’t be restricted from travelling to. Many resort development properties will feature upgraded finishes, pools, spas, saunas and other features that make them particularly desirable for a full time living space. Resorts are built around outdoor recreation and access to natural spaces that can be considered a lifestyle upgrade. Resort communities have both summer and winter activity draws, down hill skiing for winter and golfing and hiking in summer. Instead of driving in traffic to a park trail head to go hiking with thousands of urban dwellers, you could be walking out your back door to find a whole host of sparsely used trails .

Remote and Rural Properties on and off the grid | With the permanence of work from home solutions, rising urban crime, food insecurity and our ongoing health crisis, rural markets are being sought after for their safety and security. Offering larger acreages, wide-open spaces, greater privacy, and plenty of natural beauty, as well as an affordable price. Seeking out a market segment with a lower demand may be your solution. A home in a rural market may just be the perfect option for you and your families future. Living remote and rural is not what it used to be with the modern conveniences of satellite internet, solar and renewable energy sources, and the opportunity to raise your own food and live on your own terms. Many tracts of remote land have come onto the market as of late, and if you are seeking a slower pace lifestyle and living a simpler and fulfilling day to day existence then you should consider the rewards of living by your own hand. 

Even before the pandemic began there had been a resurgence in remote living, a trend that has gained popularity. It all comes down to planning, and using alternate forms of heating, food storage, water pumping and access. Some remote residents use alternate modes of transportation in the winter months for access such as snowmobiles or vehicle with tracks. Solar energy can be augmented with water and wind turbines to provide a year round off grid power supply. If being off the grid sound like too much work, consider finding land that has power at the lot line and budget for bringing in power for convenience. 

Have a flexible strategy to ensure that selling your home won’t leave you scrambling in a tight market after the sale. If you are not sure what your plan is then line up a rental dwelling to buy yourself some time after your sale, then you won’t be under pressure to make a rash decision or settle on a property that doesn’t meet your needs. You may need to rent secure storage for your belongings for a period of time, but this expense will be worth it if you can take your time to find the right property or home that won’t leave you unfulfilled.

You need to decide what type of lifestyle you want to live now and in the future. Be thinking about your long term goals, not just the first 5 years of your intended purchase. A large segment of buyers are looking for a recreational property that they will eventually retire on, so buying a multi-story dwelling with stairs could be a barrier to enjoying the home when you have limited mobility in your old age. 

Buying a home in a low inventory market takes patience, and above all else remaining flexible and fluid in your attitude while searching. Be willing to make some concessions and keep an open mind about what changes you can make later with renovations and repairs to existing dwellings. 

Always leave some negotiating room at the top of your budget in case you run into a multiple offer situation. Some buyers end up outbidding each other and paying well over asking price, so don’t max out your budget on your initial offer to allow you to improve the deal if someone else jumps in. 

In conclusion, you can also make your home bid offer more appealing to sellers by limiting the number of contingencies and being open to working with the sellers needs in possession dates. As always, the most important asset will be your relationship with an experienced realtor to guide you through your options and make timely decisions to successfully navigate your next purchase.

Freddy & Linda Marks, 3A®Group RE/MAX Nyda Realty

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