Join us at The Chilliwack Progress as we take our readers on a thoughtful trip down memory lane. Our Top Stories will recap the most significant news events, milestones and emerging themes that have shaped Chilliwack in 2016. It was undeniably a notable year, from an unprecedented spike in homelessness, to major development news, to the community revealing its keen interest in crime and politics, and a most caring heart.
• • •
Chilliwack felt both the good and bad effects of a housing squeeze throughout 2016, with a multitude of issues making it the hottest real estate market in recent memory.
As prices soared in cities like Vancouver and Langley, sellers were able to get a pretty penny for their properties. The influx of buyers combined with a lack of available properties, and the stage was set for a price increase. Low interest rates and a strong local economy all drove up sales.
Prices were pushed up about 25 per cent in March, said Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board’s Richard Admiraal.
But that eventually spelled trouble for renters, who were caught in the crosshairs and left scrambling for housing. The term ‘renoviction’ became an unfortunate buzzword, as some landlords reportedly sent their renters packing, made minor renovations, and then re-rented or sold at top dollar.
As more people flocked to Fraser Valley communities like Chilliwack, even fewer units were available.
Rent increases were the norm, with one bedroom units that once rented for $600 to $700 going up to $900 and more. There were reports of families living in campers, tents and vehicles, out in the bush, or doubling up with friends and families in their homes.
Al Browne, manager of Homelife Glenayre Property Management, said in August that it was the tightest market in 20 years for renters. Vacancy rates at the time ranged from zero to three per cent across the city.
In a world ruled by supply and demand, the prices seemed to rise further.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the hot real estate market was something to view with mixed feelings.
“It’s a windfall for some, but a hardship for others,” she said. “My heart goes out to those suffering. It’s very real.”