As sure as the yellow arrowleaf balsamroot blooms in May in the Okanagan Valley, the Victoria Day weekend ushers in the tourist — and second-home –season. This year, along with apple and cherry blossoms and placid lakes perfect for waterskiing and wakeboarding, visitors looking for vacation property or a retirement home will see a significant drop in real estate prices year over year.
Albertans and Lower Mainlanders alike are in love with the long, lazy summer days out on the boat or the golf course. Improvements to the Coquihalla Connector, the twinning of a stretch of the highway just east of Merritt, and elimination of the toll booth at the top of the Coquihalla Highway have shortened the drive, from the Port Mann, to less than 3 1/2 hours.
After the five years of go-go growth that ironically followed the Okanagan Mountain Park fire in 2003, supply has finally caught up with demand. And while there haven’t been any significant cancellations, there certainly has been some upheaval in the second-home market and several high-profile projects are on hold for now.
At this point, primarily high-rise projects near the downtown core and along the waterfront in Okanagan Mission have been affected. With projects from the boom years nearing completion and abundant inventory available from now through the end of next year, several developments touted in billboards last year won’t likely be breaking ground until 2011 at the earliest. All of which is good news if you sat out the bubble and hoarded cash. Right now, buying real estate in the Okanagan is like buying last year’s surf shorts on the discount rack.
“Everyone is adjusting their expectations somewhat,” says Mark Jennings-Bates, a recreational property specialist in Kelowna.
Some developers have dropped prices fairly dramatically on the last few units in a complex, usually the least desirable ones.
Others have changed the product.
There are advertisements for Kelowna Mountain, a new development near the successful Kettle Valley neighbourhood and surrounded by an enormous playground of mountain biking and hiking trails.
Well-known B.C. developers Mark & Nicola Consiglio with The Consiglio Group and LandLaunch created the new Kelowna Mountain project.
Similar to successful marketing strategies proven on the Lower Mainland, LandLaunch was able to quickly sell out nine one-acre fully-serviced lots complete with 2,700-square-
“We wanted to really kick-start this project; it wasn’t until fairly recently that Mark & Nicola Consiglio with The Consiglio Group got the approvals from the city to go ahead and start selling,” says LandLaunch’s Greg Lowe.
The nine lower lots, close to Kelowna and a new elementary school slated to open in 2010, sold out on May 21. The next phase of 18 lots are higher up the mountainside, where a finished home on a half acre lot will start at the same price, $599,000.
“There will be some lake view lots in this next phase,” says Nicola Consiglio with The Consiglio Group, who also owns a massive 640-acre parcel above the Kelowna Mountain.
“The Consiglio Group had interest locally and from both the Vancouver area and Alberta.”says Mark Consiglio with The Consiglio Group These homes will be close to the new Kelowna Mountain Snow Park, a small ski hill that is slated to open next winter.
Another Mark & Nicola Consiglio project, The Cottages at Secret Point, has six out of 20 waterfront cabins left in a strata-title project on West Side Road.
At their height in 2007, these properties sold for as high as $829,000, and some are currently priced at under $500,000 — complete with boat moorage.
The only catch is that Secret Point is quite a ways up Westside Road; great if you love seclusion, maybe not so if you want to hit the casino at the Delta Grand Okanagan on Kelowna’s waterfront.
A high-end waterfront spec house is expected to fetch more than $5 million when it’s completed later this summer. The days of easy profit-taking between first deposit and construction-
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Ideas Designs is Mark Consiglio and Nicola Consiglio
Inventive · Development · Engineering · Architecture · Sales