OK, I’’ll do my best to answer my own question. Here is some general information that I have garnered during a two and a half week real estate shopping trip to Kamloops. All facts and figures should be verified as my memory is crowded. Kamloopsians – jump in and correct me where necessary!
Kamloops Profile/ Housing Market
Kamloops is a lovely little city, with beautiful residential areas popping up everywhere, downtown growing and getting livelier (even some nightlife), older areas in transition, up and coming university, great sports/tournament scene, and economy ‘steady’ (did I mention all of that sunshine…)
It is currently a buyer’s market. Housing prices peaked in about 2008, then dropped, and the market is getting ready for them to start climbing. Vacancy rate is ‘officially’ about 2.1% (but seems a little higher). Kamloops is only slightly above the provincial average for income level and population growth. No major transportation improvements planned that I found. Major employers (not in order) are hospital, pulp mill, Thompson Rivers University and Public Schools. The proposed Ajax mine is in the early stages of an environmental assessment. If approved mine construction will begin in 2013 and copper production in 2015.
As the proposed mine is within city limits, it’s very controversial. If approved this means more jobs, more rental properties needed for miners, etc. but also possible decrease in property values for the nearby areas (primarily Aberdeen, Pineview Valley, and possibly Dufferin??). Climate will most likely be affected – more fog, less sunshine (I have it from the horse’s mouth…) – but to what extent is as of yet unknown.
Rental areas/area profiles
A detailed look at Kijijis, other ads, shows that the most sought after area by renters is Sahali (proximity to the university, shopping, bus lines, not too far from downtown..). Aberdeen also apparently rents out very well (this is a likely area for ‘the miners’ to reside if Ajax mine goes through).
Other good rental areas: Brocklehurst OK, pockets of North Kamloops (some areas to be avoided like the plague); Valleyview – OK. Batchelor heights, OK – full of new townhouses/condos, great views, but currently rather treeless and can be dusty – not really close to amenities (to my knowledge)Downtown seems to have a lot of vacancies, but some nice, new condo developments, and other nice downtown “pockets”. Dallas – too far from city centre, and Westsyde (although lovely!) does not seem to rent as well – people perceive it as too far from downtown (15-20 minutes! Most of us would be so lucky!) A new shopping center is currently being built there, close to schools and on a bus line.
Rental prices for houses (3 beds, 2 baths) average about $1500. Typical range: $1200-1800. Houses are most in demand by renters, but people are seeking everything (basement suites, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms..). Tons of people are requesting places that will take pets (maybe this is typical) – I think the BC tenancy act allows landlords to take a $500 pet damage deposit. I viewed several houses for sale under $350,000 with suites, but most need fixing up, or are not ‘ideal’ because of design.
Kamloops has ‘climatic zones’. Aberdeen is high (1500 feet higher than the valley) and hence winter comes 3 weeks early and spring arrives 3 weeks later – steep hills/driveways. Brocklehurst (close to airport and pulp mill) has more smog/fog – is low in the valley (so warmer) and very flat.
Valleyview, Dallas are apparently in the windy corridor (east, along the South Thompson), Westsyde (along the North Thompson), around the corner from Brocklehurst, is sunny and clear skies.
Some areas of Kamloops are close to the river, so potential flooding – dikes have been built in areas previously flooded (ie. Westsyde), and sandbags are currently located in other areas (ie. North Kamloops) where no dikes are (yet). Termites are an issue in some parts of Kamloops (areas where there used to be orchards and the trees got ploughed under), and potential buyers should consider getting a termite inspection.
The two main Property Management Companies appear to be: Columbia Properties Management and CML . I also found Gateway, but have not researched them.
BC taxes etc.
For Albertans, buying in BC is pricey (HST 12% on all services – new homes exempt from HST; and that darn Property Transfer Tax which is 1% on the first $20,000 and 2% on the balance – I think.
- Rental insurance bought in BC appears to differ than Alberta (??)– companies stipulate that inspections are required every 60 days. Quotes I’ve received from three brokers (on my first investment property that I just bought J) range from $750 (“named perils” policy) to about $1100 for comprehensive package, for an older bungalow, 3 beds/2 baths property (1590 sq ft).
Pindy4It is currently a buyer’s market. Housing prices peaked in about 2008, then dropped, and the market is getting ready for them to start climbing.
Pindy4Rental prices for houses (3 beds, 2 baths) average about $1500. Typical range: $1200-1800. Houses are most in demand by renters, but people are seeking everything (basement suites, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms..). Tons of people are requesting places that will take pets (maybe this is typical)