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A good chunk of home sales during the first quarter of this year involved buyers outside of the Okanagan.

The latest Housing Forecast Report is out from the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA). It indicates 40 per cent of home sales were made from outside the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board, while over 15 per cent were from Alberta residents.

Sales are expected to reach their highest level since 2007, “climbing a further 7.6 per cent to 8,100 units this year,” said the report from the BCREA.

This comes after the OMREB reported residential sales “surged ahead” in 2014 by nearly 24 per cent, after increasing 13 per cent in 2013.

“While rock-bottom mortgage rates are helping to underpin affordability, stronger economic conditions, consumer confidence, and population growth are key market drivers this year,” said the report.

The average price for a home in the Okanagan is expected to increase 2.6 per cent to $408,000 this year, and will rise another 2.1 per cent in 2016 to $416,500.

Meanwhile, housing starts are expected to cool this year after a surge of nearly 42 per cent in 2014 for multiple homes and 20 per cent for single detached housing. This year, housing starts will edge back to about 15 per cent to 1,115 units, “as builders concentrate on completing existing projects.”

In the South Okanagan, home sales are projected to climb a further 5.3 per cent to 1,850 units in 2015. The region has experienced several years of below average performance, but “home sales are on a marked upward trajectory.”

People moving from other provinces along with a growing number of retirees are helping to support housing demand in the South Okanagan.

As for the province as a whole, BCREA reports that housing demand across the province is expected to produce the highest level of unit sales since 2007. Economic growth, consumer confidence, and rock-bottom mortgage interest rates are pushing home sales up significantly this year. Residential sales are forecast to rise 12 per cent to 94,300 units this year but will edge back by three per cent to 91,600 in 2016.

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