March 21, 2024 Trends and Insights Influencing the Okanagan Spring Market


As we step into March 2024, the Okanagan real estate market reflects a landscape shaped by various economic forces and policy changes. Over the past year, the market has undergone a period of adjustment, responding to shifts in borrowing costs, regulatory interventions, and external factors such as natural disasters.  

In 2023, the Okanagan real estate market experienced notable activity, characterized by a period of adjustment in response to broader economic changes. According to data from the MLA Intel 2024 report, 13 projects began presales, introducing 1,319 units into the market. Impressively, 43% of these units were absorbed, resulting in 565 sales, showcasing a healthy market response. 

Central Okanagan emerged as a focal point for development, with a majority of projects concentrated in downtown cores and adjacent areas. "In 2023, wood frame construction emerged as the preferred choice, with over half of the launches opting for this option. This trend was driven by its appeal to entry-level buyers and investors, navigating the landscape of rising borrowing costs." says Taylor Musseau, Partner and Managing Director at MLA Okanagan. However, investor sentiment experienced a shift following the Provincial Government's announcement of new short-term rental legislation in October. 

Resale activity in the Central Okanagan, which includes Kelowna, Peachland, and Summerland, witnessed a downturn in 2023. Total resales decreased by 27% compared to 2022 and by 50% compared to 2021, influenced by rising interest rates and changes in work-from-home policies. Despite these challenges and the impact of significant wildfires, the market demonstrated resilience, driven by the region's high quality of life and growing population. 

As we look into the future of the Okanagan real estate market in 2024, several factors come into play. Anticipation surrounds potential shifts in interest rates and the impending short-term rental restrictions effective May 1, 2024. The next few interest rate announcements will be pivotal, as potential homebuyers await more affordable borrowing costs. 

"However, the short-term rental restrictions pose challenges to various stakeholders in the community," emphasizes Musseau. "The tourism industry is expected to suffer significantly, impacting local businesses and accommodation options for tourists. Furthermore, these restrictions may lead to vacant units for property owners, potentially contributing to oversupply in the market." 

As the Okanagan real estate sector navigates these challenges, a balance must be struck between policy objectives and economic vitality. The stringent stance on short-term rental restrictions reflects broader considerations of community needs and housing affordability. Stakeholders grapple with the repercussions, emphasizing the need for a flexible approach to address evolving market dynamics. 

Overall, the Okanagan real estate market stands at a crossroads in 2024, poised for both challenges and opportunities. As stakeholders adapt to policy changes and economic shifts, the resilience and vibrancy of the market remain central.