Northern BC – A Booming Rental Market

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If you’re thinking of investing in rental properties in Northern BC, rest assured that available properties in both Fort St. John and Dawson Creek are safe bets. Even in the face of the current decline in oil prices, both rental markets continue to overflow with leads, with most investors closing on properties with established tenants already in place. Adding to the abundant rental market in the area is an influx of displaced trade workers from Alberta.

Currently the vacancy rate (below 1.5%) and unemployment rates in Northern BC are at an all-time low, with one recent news article calling them unmeasurable. Unlike the rental markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which are highly oil dependent, Northern BC offers up a wealth of brand-new cash flowing properties in a market where over 70% of the rental stock was built before 1985.

WorkBC’s Labour Market Forecaster projects an annual employment growth rate for 2012 – 2022 of 1.7% for a 10 year total employment increase of 7,400.  Add to that the huge number of investment projects that are coming down the pipeline and Northern BC continues to be a booming investment market.

In rental tracking documentation shared with REIN by the Western Canadian Properties Group for the week ending January 23rd, 2015, there is a noticeable disparity between the number of pre-leasing units available and the number of tenants requiring vacancy. For example, in Dawson Creek, the Group has only 2 units available out of a possible 8 in their Arbutus Duplexes and Sunset Ridge Townhomes for 27 tenant applications. In Fort St. John the situation was very similar with only 8 units available out a possible 35 in their Cypress Townhomes development for 27 rental applications.

With average rents hovering between $1,122 and $2500 in Fort St. John and $900 to $1300 in Dawson Creek, the potential for acquiring a high yield investment property in Northern BC is high. In both markets, non-suited properties will generally see the highest rents. Turnover in the region has historically been high due to a variety of reasons ranging from job loss to the climate. Potential tenants in both markets look for units that are pet friendly and that offer powered parking, among other requirements. Proximity to amenities is crucial to renters in Fort St. John with the majority of the city’s rental stock being found in the southeast and northeast quadrants of town.

Dealing with property managers for both markets can be an issue for slightly different reasons – in Fort St. John for example, it’s mainly due to property managers being extremely overworked. In Dawson Creek, there is also the added necessity of being familiar with the spring break-up, when the ground starts to thaw and many jobs come to a standstill for a month.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to navigating the market in Northern BC. For more insight on the unique needs of the region’s tenants and the rental market itself in Northern BC, click here to purchase your copy of the Dawson Creek and/or Fort St. John REIN Scores.

The REIN Score is designed to make it easier for investors see what’s going on and what will happen in various real estate markets by assessing the predicted risk and return. It’s an invaluable reference tool when planning out your rental investment strategy.

Have more questions? Contact us anytime at 1-888-824-7346.

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