How the floods impacted the housing market in Merritt, Princeton

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Housing demand in Merritt and Princeton appears to have returned to normal after both communities were devastated by floods in November 2021, but supply has depleted.

Princeton realtor Lee Mowry had family living in the affected area who needed immediate emergency assistance.

Meanwhile, some of his business sales were collapsing due to the flood.

“A few deals went wrong for us,” he said. “There were deals we didn’t finalize because of the flooding – the property they were planning to buy was changed significantly.”

Mowry grew up in Princeton and said it was surreal and fascinating to see familiar places like flooded downtown streets and the Similkameen River rising so close to the bottom of the iconic brown Bridge Street bridge.

“Once the water overpowered the levees and there was a breach, it diverted part of the river and ran straight down Lime Street,” Mowry said.

He remembers walking home from school as a young teenager in 1995 when another major flood hit, but said the 2021 event was even worse.

READ MORE: ON VIDEO: Floods and mudslides separate British Columbia’s interior from the Lower Mainland

The majority of homes affected by the November floods were between 80 and 100 years old, he said. They were built by Princeton’s first European settlers, and the modest homes were among the most affordable in Princeton.

“As far as price goes – homes that were listed at 350 (one thousand dollars) and below – a lot of that market has been damaged,” he said.

He noticed most homeowners were returning to their flooded properties as soon as possible to save and mitigate the damage, but a couple appear to be “undamaged” since the damage occurred nearly three months ago. He has heard that some of the affected properties have been ‘trimmed’ from their foundations and suspects it will involve demolition.

He said a local told him he couldn’t afford to fix his damaged house and asked him for a rough idea of ​​how much he could sell for once it was “ripped to the brim”. poles”.

When Mowry got into the real estate business 15 years ago, he said there was still a much healthier supply than there is today. From 2015 to 2018, he noticed that around 200 listings were typically available in the Princeton area at any one time.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a “massive decrease”, he said.

“Right now we currently have 32 or 33 properties on the market.”

None of the alumni Mowry knows of local real estate have ever seen such a low inventory, he said.

But despite dwindling supply and a lack of sales following last year’s floods, Mowry said demand had returned to normal in the local property market.

“We actually had more sales in January of this year than last year.”

Beyond the pandemic and flooding challenges, Mowry feels Princeton real estate is being held back by aging infrastructure and profit margins that aren’t good enough to entice developers to build subdivisions.

READ MORE: iN VIDEO: Drone video captures aerial view of Merritt floods

The housing market was similarly affected in Merritt. Although located nearly 100 miles from Princeton, the city was also affected by severe flooding which began on the same day, November 15.

Merritt real estate agent John Issac said demand remains high but there is “much less inventory”.

So far in 2022, the number of sales is about half of what it was this time last year, Issac said, “but I think that’s due to the lack of inventory,” said Issac. he added.

“The flooding contributed to the lack of inventory because who knows how many of these people would have considered signing up.”

Issac said the impact of the flooding had “significantly” slowed sales for about two weeks.

READ MORE: Merritt residents scramble to save their flood-ravaged homes

Jared Thomas, who is also a real estate agent in Merritt, said it was too early to know for sure what impact the floods might have had on local house prices, but he felt it was obvious the demand is up and supply is down.

“There is a lot of interest in Merritt – investors on the coast, displaced people in Merritt, people displaced by the fires in Lytton – take your pick.”

Homebuyers who feel out of Kamloops are also considering moving to Merritt, Thomas added.

There was a “pause” in property sales that lasted about two months, but by mid-January things were back to normal, he said.

“Due to the lack of inventory, prices are going up again.”

There may be a silver lining for some flood victims, he said, because anyone filing an insurance claim to replace an aging furnace or water heater will likely see their home’s value increase.

Plus, he knows a couple who moved into a new house shortly before the flood. They intended to give it a major facelift, but those plans were originally on the back burner.

“I know that’s not the way most people want to go about it, but it speeds up their renovation plans,” he said.

With a slower pace of life, light traffic, proximity to wilderness and Lake Nicola, and only hours from so many major cities – Thomas expects demand to live in Merritt to remain strong for coming years.

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