Recent figures that show Summerland has bucked downward trending real estate figures qualify as damming praise.
On the surface, the numbers suggest that the demand for Summerland real estate has recovered faster than elsewhere in the Okanagan Valley. This in turn confirms the desirability of living in Summerland. But it would be a mistake to seek comfort in this condition for a number of reasons.
Yes, it is true that the Summerland figures serve as another piece of supporting evidence in claims that the provincial economy is recovering. It certainly offers some hope for the regional real estate industry until one realizes that Summerland constitutes a small part of the overall market.
Closer to home, the figures once again underscore one of the fundamental disadvantages of living in the South Okanagan — the high cost of housing.
Consider the numbers. Whereas the average regional sale price dropped six per cent to $302,952 from $322,151, the average local price in Summerland rose to $420,576 from $398,343. Read in another way, housing was expensive before recent developments and has since only gone up. While this development naturally benefits those who already live in their own four walls, it makes it even more difficult for non-homeowners to get into the market, all while driving up the overall cost of housing for everybody else.
A series of figures lead us to the conclusion that Summerland is experiencing a decline. Summerland needs to reverse this trend by attracting a diversity of industry and becoming a more affordable place to live for families. If we were to hold up the recent real estate numbers against this larger background, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Summerland is becoming the domicile of an aging elite.