Okanagan sees huge spike in foreclosures
The once-robust real estate market in B.C.'s Okanagan is showing signs of strain, with a 10-fold increase in the number of foreclosures since the boom years of the last decade.
More than 175 properties in the central Okanagan are up for court-ordered sales right now after their owners defaulted on their mortgages. According to realtor Jason Newmann of Century 21, the total number of foreclosures five years ago was in the low teens.
"Those are the people that your heart goes out to. They're just trying to make ends meet and they're doing everything they can and this is sort of like the last straw," he said of the former homeowners.
The mortgage defaults run the gamut from entire condo developments to small single-family homes.
Kevin Irvine, a mortgage broker for Invis, says the high foreclosure rate has scared some lenders out of the region.
"One of them currently isn't lending in the Okanagan region and the other lender doesn't currently have any local representation right now, so they're kind of scaling back a little," he told CTV News.
A spokesman for the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board argued that the current five-per-cent rate of foreclosure sales isn't that high, and only seems shocking when compared to several years of a constantly rising market.
And Irvine says that the Okanagan is still an attractive place to live, and the current slump will pass.
"If you look at the world economy and the things that are going on, there's reasons why we're on a bit of a downturn, and once everything gets sorted out then everything will be good again," he said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat