FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The average price of a home in Fort St. John has increased about five per cent, says Remax realtor Trevor Bolin, and home sales have increased  50 per cent compared to last year.

He says there are many people who can take advantage of the current market situation and be able to achieve the dream of homeownership.

“Last year probably should have been a recovery year, but then come March, offices were closed. A lot of people were not working and on some of the different programs that were available. I think we’re going to continue building,” said Bolin on the November 5th episode of MooseTalks.

“We’re sitting at about a five per cent increase right now on average prices. When you look at the average price of homes in Fort St. John at the end of October, it’s back up to that just shy of $400,000, that $394,000. We ended the same period last year at about $373,000.”

The BC Northern Real Estate Board’s third quarter report showed 629 properties worth $242.4 million were sold in the area as of September 30th, surpassing the number sold in 2020.

In 2020, 529 Fort St. John properties valued at a total of $187.8 million were sold, and 501 properties worth $179.3 million were sold in 2019.

With those numbers, Bolin expects to see the biggest increase since 2015.

“I think we’ll probably see an end of the year increase overall between 6.5, 7.2 per cent, somewhere in there, which is our biggest increase since 2015.”

The British Columbia Real Estate Association forecasts sales in the north will reach around 5,400 by the end of 2021, just short of the all-time record of 5,564 sales set in 2006.

If there’s a problem, its inventory, says Bolin.

“What we’re finding right now is, not enough inventory. And I think it’s been a long time since we’ve been in that boat. I remember back in 2016, doing the counts that were going forward, we had 800 available properties on the market in this region. We hadn’t had that since probably 1997 or 1998.”

Bolin says it’s a balancing act between a developing market and too much construction.

“To see us get back into a balanced market, we don’t want things to go crazy again, we don’t need 14 per cent increases. We need to look forward to a stable, solid, safe market in this region.”

Bolin expects to see a lot of first time home buyers as a result of the low rental vacancy rates in the spring.

“Rates are still low. Prices are increasing a little bit, but not exponentially, so it really makes a good time for first time buyers into that market.”

The growth in the north is mainly attributed to large industrial projects in the north, such as Site C, LNG Canada’s export terminal in Kitimat, and the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, according to the BCNREB.