Recreational properties around Kamloops are getting scooped up quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new Sun Peaks development recently sold out in one weekend and Shuswap property prices are on the rise, as a result of demand.
“This whole pandemic has forced people to really look in their own backyard,” A&T Project Developments vice president of sales and marketing Gary Reed said.
Reed said a 40-unit ski-in, ski-out townhouse development valued at $27 million and planned for construction this spring near the Orient Chairlift at Sun Peaks sold out during its opening weekend of sales this month. Reed said the company knew there was interest in this type of home, based on feedback for a previously planned apartment-style development. Feedback had suggested direct access and garages for ski storage was preferable. The development, dubbed Altitude, was the right product — however, it also benefited from the right timing. Reed noted the pandemic has resulted in increased demand for recreational property.
People who usually travel to warmer climes have been required to stay home in a bid to curb spread of the novel coronavirus. Reed said they have been looking for safe and fun environments to enjoy the outdoors. In addition, people have also shifted to working from home, meaning people working in the Lower Mainland can now work from a cabin at Sun Peaks. Reed said about 40 per cent of the project was sold to people in the Lower Mainland and the rest of Canada. International sales, which could usually account for a quarter of sales in any given Sun Peaks development, was minimal, Reed said, with advisories against international travel.
Meanwhile, Ken Redekop — a realtor known as “Mr. Shuswap” — said he has seen an increase in demand for property at the Shuswap. Redekop said that in recent years the lakeside properties have been slow-moving, level or steadily increasing. However, 2020 brought a 10 per cent property value increase in six months, due to demand and limited availability. A $1-million property in May was worth $1.1 million in September. Redekop attributes that increase in property values to the pandemic and more people working from home.
“They figured, ‘Hey, if we don’t have to go into the office, why don’t we go to the Shuswap, where the sun shines and it’s like a recreational mecca,” Redekop said. “That’s what happened, that was the biggest driver of our increase.”
Between 2005 and 2007, Redekop said the Shuswap market moved rapidly — between 10 and 15 per cent a year — but then crashed, with 30 per cent of the market lost between 2008 and 2010, as a result of an economic crisis. Through 2015, he said the market was flat before rising in recent years about five per cent year over year until oil prices crashed, resulting in less demand from Alberta buyers. Alberta residents once accounted for 75 per cent of Redekop’s deals. Now, he is seeing predominantly B.C. buyers.
“It was COVID and we really thought it was going to stay stagnant, but it really broke open,” Redekop said.
Other outdoor recreational opportunities have been busy during the pandemic. The city of Kamloops has reported increased usage of city parks and Stake Lake has seen a boost in annual membership sales.
As for whether or not people will sell en mass recreational properties, when the pandemic comes to a close amid vaccinations, Reed admitted he does not have a crystal ball. However, he said that once people get a taste of the outdoors in the Kamloops area, they are not likely to give it up.
“I think it’s going to continue to last for a long time,” Reed said.