Rental vacancy could be swallowed up quickly

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – People may think that the vacancy rate in town is high but Dave Steele with Western Canadian Properties Group says that could chance quickly.

“The reports are out there that there is a huge vacancy in town and I think what has happened is there are a bunch of fairly new properties that have been built including a lot of the stuff that we have built and the vacancy rate in the new properties is actually quite low.”

He goes on to say he believes it is beneficial for Fort St. John because people want choice when they decide to move and rent somewhere.

“I think it has been good for Fort St. John because now, people that are coming to town have a choice. A lot of the properties that were built have been built in Fort St. John were originally built back in the 1980’s. What has happened in the past is that a lot of people have come here and found older properties to rent and haven’t really enjoyed the experience living in some of the older properties.”

Steele and his company have built Duplexes, Single Family Homes, Condo’s and also Executive Townhomes. They have built just over 225 properties and most are rentals.

“Out of all our properties right now, we have about 2 or 3 vacant units.”

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When it comes to the pricing of a “newer” unit, Steele says that prices aren’t that much different from an older unit.

“2 bedroom sort of starts at $1100. We have some 5 story buildings that have underground parking as well. We’re the only properties in Fort St. John with underground parking. They are anywhere from $1100 to $1500 depending on if you want one on the top floor with a gas fireplace. They all come with washer/dryers in all the suites, hardwood floor and brand new appliances. It is kind of the “new wave” coming to Fort St. John.”

He goes on to say that a year ago, things looked a lot different.

“A year ago when the world fell apart in Alberta, a lot of the big companies said ‘oh well we’re going to slow down and we aren’t going to do anything in Fort St. John and I think now, once it is all settled out, things aren’t better in Alberta but they are definitely getting better in Fort St. John. A lot of the companies that had pulled back on budgeted money for drilling and hiring people are putting the foot back on the pedal.”

He says he has spoken with others in the rental business and is hearing that everyone is optimistic for what is to come in 2017/2018. Steele himself says they plan on building maybe another 20/25 units but that he sees any vacancy currently available in the market to be eaten up fairly quickly.

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