Charming B.C. communities appeal to retirees

Idyllic Okanagan includes Peachland and Summerland

Gerald Vander Pyl for the Calgary Herald

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mention the Okanagan Valley to many people and they immediately have a vision of shimmering lakes, sandy beaches and hillsides covered with orchards and vineyards.

In some areas of the Okanagan those idyllic scenes are giving way to bustling cities, but not in the heart of the valley and the communities of Peachland and Summerland.

Less that a half-hour drive from each other, Peachland and Summerland have become popular places to buy real estate, yet have retained their picture postcard beauty and friendly, small-town feel.

For Patrick Murphy, broker/owner of Re/Max Orchard Country, not a lot has changed since he was a boy growing up in Summerland.

“Main Street  is still pretty much what it was 30 years ago. The high school is still the same. Some of the teachers are even the same as when I want there,” Murphy says with a chuckle.

He says Summerland is a charming community with lots of recreational amenities for families and plenty to do for active retirees.

Although it has a population of only 11,000, Summerland covers more land than the city of Penticton to the south.

Murphy says that’s because much of Summerland is zoned as agricultural land, so there are acres of orchards and wineries in among the residential neighbourhoods, providing a rural feel to the community.

With a limited supply of land available for development and a continues high demand from buyers, Summerland’s real estate market remains very strong.

Murphy says starter townhouses and apartment -style condominiums units are priced in the $200,000 range, while a townhouse overlooking one of Summerland’s two golf courses would go for about $300,000.

A high-end townhouse with a lake-view and close to a beach would cost about $800,000.

Murphy says Summerland has a good stretch of waterfront development and the homes on the lake are highly sought after.

Prices would start at a minimum of about $850,000 for a lot with an old knockdown house, and go upward of $4.2 million.

Single-family in a subdivision with lake views are priced at about $450,00o while home in non-view areas start from $330,000.

Murphy says a growing trend in Summerland is the purchase of smaller parcels of agricultural land of perhaps five acres with an old farm house.

He says the buyer then builds a new home, puts in a vineyard and has a local vintner assume control of the production, helping meet the needs of the region’s growing wine industry.

A short drive north of Summerland is the community of Peachland, where real estate is in high demand, especially from buyers across the provincial border.

Shirley Geiger, co-owner of Peachland Realty with her husband Gary, says Alberta has overtaken the Lower Mainland as the largest market for Peachland real estate bought by outsiders.

Geiger says 28 per cent of real estate sales in the latest figures were attributed to Alberta buyers.

She says while many ot the properties currently available on the market are higher end, Peachland is still a family-friendly community where people can afford to live and work.

You can still find a nice three-bedroom town-home for about $289,000, while entry-level homes with a good size yard start at about $300,000 to $350,000.

Units in newer resort-style condominiums projects, such as those near a golf course, are priced from $335,000 up to $500,000.

When it comes to lake-view property, Peachland benefits from its topography.

Geiger says view homes are priced at about $450,000 to $550,000 and usually sell faster than those without a view. Lakefront real estate is also plentiful, with about five of the 11 kilometres of shoreline in Peachland having residential development.

Homes on the lake start at about $1.3 million, while those in areas where a road lies between the home and the lake cost about $750,000 to $1 million.

©The Edmonton Journal 2007

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