While the local real estate market took off on its usual brisk pace in early March, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll.
Listings in March were down by the second half of the month. The number of single-family homes on the market dropped by 10.5 per cent — the result of sellers deciding to wait or pulling their homes off the market, according to Kamloops and District Real Estate Association president Wendy Runge.
"COVID-19 is currently having a dramatic impact on the real estate market, as it is in many other sectors, and this is likely to persist for some time," Runge said.
Overall, the number of all homes up for sale was down by 3.4 per cent at the end of March. Despite that, the number of sales in March was 1.4 per cent higher than in March 2019, with a total of 220 sales.
Prices have also remained stable thus far, with an average price of $428,321 and a median price of approximately $500,000.
Most home sales in March fell into the $400,000 to $500,000 range, with 49 sales. There were 43 sales in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. Leading neighbourhoods include Brocklehurst and Sahali, which each saw 25 sales, while South Kamloops and Aberdeen both saw 20 homes trade hands.
Runge said that demand for real estate remains strong, but sales models are forecasting a drop between five and 20 per cent for 2020.
"We anticipate a much slower pace in the upcoming months, which will impact market activity for the next several months," she said, noting a strong resurgence is expected once measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are eased.
Meanwhile, the offices of the Kamloops and District Real Estate Association remain closed to the public, like many real estate offices around town due to the ongoing pandemic.
Runge said realtors are leaning on technology to provide virtual tours to clients so they can look through five or 10 properties without actually seeing the home in person before deciding what to buy.
At this point, open houses are off the table.