The headlines are everywhere.
One reads: “Higher rates start to cool Canada’s hot housing market.” Another blares: “Home sales and average prices fell in March.” Yet another: “Home sales plunge as interest rates cool market.”
Now, it’s not my intention to dispute the accuracy of these and countless other articles that have been published about Canada’s real estate market and the effects rising interest rates are having on it because it’s clear from figures across the country that a bump in rates has indeed tempered the climate in most areas.
My beef is this cooling effect seems to have somehow skipped Okotoks.
After selling in Beaumont, my wife and I were excited by the prospect of finding our new home here, but that feeling quickly dissipated when the local market began slapping us upside the head. The prices are a bit higher than three hours north, but having come from Greater Vancouver two years ago, it wasn’t sticker shock that was throwing us for a loop as many of the places we looked at would have another digit on the price in the Lower Mainland. Instead, the issue was the pace of the market and the fact it was severely tilted in favour of sellers.
On a Wednesday in early May, we gave the realtor a list of four homes we’d like to see when we were in town that Saturday, yet by Friday, all four had offers on them. That set the tone, quickly turning what was supposed to be an enjoyable experience into something much different.
Sellers had the upper hand and, not surprisingly, were using it to their advantage. If places didn’t disappear the day they came on the market, it was often because they weren’t accepting offers for a few days in an attempt to create a bidding war. Other homes would be priced artificially low to generate increased interest and presumably multiple offers above asking.
It was tough to even get in the fray from three hours away and we soon questioned whether that was a sane thing to do.
At one point during this craziness, we thought it best to pull back and look for a rental to wait it out, but that idea soon died given the local rental market is essentially non-existent and landlords seem to get a good chuckle when you utter the words “short term” and “100-pound dog” in the same sentence.
Back on the hunt, and with a June 10 vacancy date looming, we expanded the search, playing the role of the idiot couple on House Hunters that completely changes its budget and wish list to the dismay of the baffled realtor.
We lurched from new to old, from bungalows to five bedrooms, all in the hope that something would stick.
Finally, just as it looked like we’d be living at the Lakeview Inns & Suites permanently, we found something. It didn’t meet all our original goals, but it was far closer than several others we saw, so we pounced, only to have to wait another agonizing day while several scheduled showings took place.
It worked out in the end, but it was far more of an ordeal than you’d think would be the case in a market that is allegedly cooling.