House sales ‘inch up’ in Chilliwack

Chilliwack-area house sales continue to “inch up” to last year’s levels, suggesting the B.C. economy is recovering, says Kyle Hislop, president of the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board.

“We’re still waiting for the U.S. market to fire on all cylinders again before we can recover completely,” he said.

The “normalizing” of the market is welcome, he added, but mortgage changes by the federal government will put the squeeze on first-time home buyers in March.

A potential buyer who qualified for $300,000 under the old rules will qualify for only $275,000 under the new mortgage regulations in March.

“That squeezes a number of people out of the market, and we want home ownership to be more affordable, not less,” Hislop said.

But February could still see a rush of homebuyers as they try to beat the new mortgage rules in March.

A total 111 homes were sold in Chilliwack in January, 2011, compared to 122 in January, 2010.

Hislop said a good inventory of homes on the local market and normalized prices bode well for the typically busier spring months.

But interest rates are expected to rise in the summer, he said, so now is the time for a first home, a move-up, or an investment property.

Of the 111 homes sold in Chilliwack last month, the highest number (18) were in the $250,000-$274,999 range, followed by 17 sales in the $300,000-$349,999 range.

There were five sales over the half-million dollar mark.