On February 18th, 2009 Patrick Murphy of RE/MAX Orchard Country hosted a Summerland Economic Outlook event. I was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout, guest speaker variety and the positive attitude in the room. Newly elected Summerland mayor Janice Perrino capped it off with an energetic and sobering presentation. The presentations avoided the negatives but stressed the realities of the challenges to be faced and an open community effort to kick-start local business.
One of the main speakers was Eric Gerrits, Past President of the Canadian Home Builders Association South Okanagan and owner of Homescape Building and Design. He outlined a bright future for anyone thinking of building of renovating in the next couple of years.
“As a long term resident of Summerland, this is the third economic downturn I have experienced and I have to say, that the Okanagan is always the bright spot in BC’s economic picture during these correction periods. We have an incredible resource specific to the valley in the way of tourism, retirement, inter-provincial migration to our area, and a rapidly growing wine industry that is a huge promotion toll to make people aware that we live in Gods country, we no longer the “best kept secret”. Who wouldn’t wish they could live here after experiencing the best place in Canada while vacationing in Okanagan communities like Summerland.
While housing starts are expected to decline, the renovation market is expected to grow significantly as people decide to make there current residence more comfortable by upgrading windows, re-roofing or creating more square footage for a growing family.
There are many grant programs available by the Provincial, Federal and Utilities plus PST and income tax exemptions and credits. All of these positively impact your comfort and utility bills while increasing the equity in your home. Now is an ideal time to consider these upgrades because now there are skilled tradesmen available that will be only too happy to take on these jobs. However, homeowners must be wary of the underground economy and only use qualified trades people with a track record.
(Flywheel side note – As a municipal inspector I have seen some very scary projects done by DIY’s and unskilled contractors, hire skilled people or assistance and avoid problems. Also check with your local building department regarding permits.)
Every home that is built provides 2.8 person years of employment and produces over $30,000 in spin-offs back into the local economy. Construction accounts for 2.3% of the provincial GDP contributing $3.5 billion to the provincial economy last year alone. It is the largest economic engine in the province and will be a leader on the path to our recovery in BC and local communities like Summerland.
The market has clearly shifted from a sellers to a buyers market and by all accounts 2009 will be the adjustment year.
If you were told in the summer of 2008 that you could:
• Save 20% on the construction value of your project
• Pay 3% less in interest rates
• Complete your project two to three months sooner with higher skilled labour.
Wouldn’t you want to Build or Renovate. Well that is what we have right now!
In this new economic reality, now is the time to consider that project, whether it’s a new deck, a bathroom or kitchen renovation or that new home you’ve always dreamed about. Costs will never be lower, permits never quicker and trade availability will never be better. So don’t miss this opportunity of a lifetime to become a homeowner, and your decision to act now, will provide the stimulus for your local community to continue and grow and prosper. “
Eric Gerrits, RHP
Homescape Building and Design
250 – 494 – 9850
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