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Yellowknife real estate hot, but realtors left out

Broker complains of private sales, plan in works for abandoned lots

Stephan Burnett
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 13/03) - Depending on who you talk to, real estate activity within Yellowknife is either too hot to handle or a shade below mediocre.

Still, City Hall is concerned enough with the level of vacant residential lots near the downtown core to have cobbled together a draft resolution to address the issue.

Dave Jones, Yellowknife city planner, said a draft proposal which came out in July, 2002, in association with the proposed downtown redevelopment plan, addresses the issue of empty lots near the downtown core.

The proposal, which is yet to be finalized or approved by council, suggests granting back taxes for a period of time to residential builders on abandoned lots to encourage development.

Ken Pearman with Coldwell Banker says overall the vacancy rate is fairly low but he added some new condo and apartment developments should help to alleviate the problem.

Sales are on par with previous years, if not higher, said Pearman.

Office space is also very tight but Pearman said that too could change with the development of a new federal government office complex.

"The federal government purchased the old Canadian Tire site and are going to build an office building but I haven't seen the final plans yet," said Pearman.

While Pearman says the brokers at Coldwell are staying busy, listing and selling real estate, James Clark, an owner/agent with Homelife Sunrise Real Estate says the private sellers' market is affecting his business.

"The market for realtors is terrible. There are 2 1/2 times owner sales to real estate sales," said Clark.

While listings seem hard to come by, at the same time, Clark said the local real estate market is as busy as it has ever been.

"The diamond industry brought real estate back. All of a sudden it kicked in and everyone was moving here," he said.

Clark specified that change occurred during the fall of 2002 and added what properties brokers do have agreements on are selling quickly.

The city's real estate pricing is at an all-time high and Clark predicts it will go higher.

"In April we had two listings and we usually carry 50 to 75. It's all because people are selling on their own," said Clark.