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Out of the ashes of COVID, Kelowna real estate rose like a phoenix in 2020.
In a year that for all intents and purposes should have been a disaster for economic activity, 5,757 homes of all kinds (single-family, townhouses, condominiums, mobiles and duplexes and triplexes) sold in the Central Okanagan, a surprising 26% hike over the 4,549 sales in 2019.
Prices also skyrocketed.
The average selling price of a fully-detached, single-family home in 2020 was a record high $801,735.
In December it was also a record at $854,387, up an astonishing 26% from $679,304 in December 2019.
The Association of Interior Realtors is moving to a benchmark price, which it feels is a better representation of value because it represents a home with typical attributes to those sold in the area and isn't skewed by some really expensive homes selling and bumping up the average.
For December, the benchmark selling price of a single-family home was $746,800, up 13 per cent from a year earlier.
What allowed this entire real estate anomaly to happen is a fortuitous combination of factors.
COVID prompted people to reevaluate their lives and put a renewed importance on home and comfort.
Those that had the money bought bigger and better houses, especially if they were pandemic-forced to work from home.
Many of those living in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto that had always dreamed of moving to Kelowna did so as part of COVID introspection and lifestyle changes.
Kelowna's status as a desirable place to live, work and play only amplified as the pandemic dragged on.
All this demand is happening when inventory is low, creating a situation where homes are snapped up as soon as they are listed for sale, a scenario that also drives up prices.
Amid all this, mortgage interest rates remained rock bottom, allowing all kinds of people to get as much house for the buck as they could.
"Last year was a very unusual year," said Association of Interior Realtors president Kim Heizmann, who is also a realtor at Century 21 in Vernon.
In the news release outlining the year-end figures, the association also described 2020 as "unexpected and exceptional."
Single-family home price is generally used as a barometer of the market.
However, townhouses and condominiums make up almost half of the total sales in the Central Okanagan.
The average selling price of a townhouse in December was $560,782, up 15% from a year earlier, and a condo was $407,000, 12% higher than December 2019.
The corresponding benchmark prices for December for a townhouse was $505,000, a condo $399,000.
The Association of Interior Realtors, which represents 1,600 realtors, was formed Jan. 1 when the Okanagan Mainline (Central and North Okanagan, Shuswap and Revelstoke), South Okanagan and South Peace River Region real estate boards merged.
Residential sales for December in the region from Revelstoke to Peachland was 661, up a whopping 65% compared to the same month a year before.
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