Atlantic Canada’s real estate market is heating up.
Given the lockdown measures that were implemented in mid-March, spring was uncharacteristically quiet. Yet with the easing of restrictions, it’s been on an upward trajectory.
As Costa Poulopoulos, chairman of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), states in a recent summary, “Realtors across Canada are increasingly seeing business pick back up.”
Statistics from CREA reflect this reality: home sales recorded over Canadian MLS Systems in June 2020 rebounded by a further 63 per cent, returning them to normal levels for the month – some 150 per cent above where they were in April. Additionally, the number of newly-listed homes climbed by another 49.5 per cent in June compared to May. As with sales activity, gains were recorded across the country.
We are in a very hot sellers’ market
The outlook is very promising, according to Yasser Khalaf, a Bedford, N.S.-based realtor with RE/MAX nova, who serves the Dartmouth, Halifax and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) areas.
“The real estate market has been very active. Compared to the number of sales at this time last year, there has been a five to six per cent decrease, but this dip can be attributed to low inventory levels. The demand for homes is up, and prices have gone up ten per cent.”
Katherine Elsinga, a Grahams Road, P.E.I.-based real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Parker Realty, has noticed a similar trend.
“We are in a very hot sellers’ market. There are a lot of buyers and not nearly as many properties for sale,” she states, adding she covers the Island from one end to another.
“Recently, I did something I had never done before: I went out and got the listing paperwork all done up for a house; went home that evening; made one phone call, and got it sold the next day. I handed in the sales paperwork before the listing paperwork,” she says incredulously.
Many of my listings sold within a couple of days
Conor Stack, a St. John’s, NL-based realtor with Royal LePage Property Consultants and lawyer, can relate.
“The real estate market through late spring and early summer was extremely active. Many of my listings sold within a couple of days and received multiple bids at or above the listing price.”
According to Stack, in addition to buyers needing or wanting new homes, whether due to changing family or economic circumstances, life under lockdown has led to a new category of buyers.
“Additional buyers were created by people spending more time in their homes, including working from home, and realizing that properties with more functional indoor and outdoor spaces may be worth the investment now rather than later.”
With COVID-19-related jitters factoring into the equation, he notes pricing has been a major consideration as well.
“Listing prices appeared a bit more realistic and competitive – perhaps due to vendors’ desires to sell quickly, or due to long-term economic anxieties.”
With house hunting on the rise in Atlantic Canada, Elsinga is noticing an increased demand for starter homes. She’s witnessing an influx of buyers from elsewhere in Canada, but primarily from Alberta and Ontario, in addition to international buyers from Brazil, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates.
“People are looking for anything affordable: large building lots; smaller acreages; and of course, the elusive hobby farm. There’s a real need for homes under $200,000. I believe a lot of people are starting to look at ‘winterizing’ cottages on seasonal and private roads, so they can actually have an affordable place to live,” she says, mentioning buyers are eager to snap up a variety of dwellings, such as a log house she’s currently showing in North Granville, PEI.
Khalaf is noticing a diverse demographic of buyers searching for properties as well.
“My clients range from young professionals, to couples, families, and international buyers, such as from India, China, and the Middle East. Detached and semi-detached houses are doing well, but because the demand is so high, new buyers are steadily gravitating toward new constructions.”
As for Stack, who primarily serves the greater St. John’s area, his clients range from first-time home buyers to young families looking for their ‘forever’ homes, and empty-nesters looking for a bungalow with a garage and few stairs. He notes there’s a strong demand for approximately 2,000-square-foot homes in the Churchill Square neighbourhood of St. John’s, which are coveted by young families.
If you’re thinking of selling your home, renovations are likely something you’ve considered. Typically, homeowners direct their focus on kitchens and bathrooms in order to get their homes market-ready. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, you can expect to recover anywhere from 75 to 100 per cent of your investment.
“It’s beneficial to have an updated kitchen or bathroom, as such renovations can further increase the value of your home,” Khalaf says.
Elsinga stresses such undertakings really depend on the individual homeowner and their current situation.
“There are a lot of different factors that go into this, such as time, money and capability. It also depends on if I perceive the issue to be serious or cosmetic, but we price the house accordingly.”
Agreeing renovating kitchens and bathrooms are generally good places to see a return on investment, but acknowledging the investment is much higher, Stack emphasizes the importance of having a conversation about any potential renovations before listing your home.
“I caution my clients if they’re going to redo their kitchens or bathrooms before listing, to please do them well. The risk being if you do inexpensive upgrades, buyers may still want to tear them out, and they’ll see no value in the money you’ve spent. Ultimately, it depends on the property and the clients’ willingness to commit to redoing those rooms properly.”
Stack encourages his clients to consider investing in low-cost solutions, like fresh paint, and having their homes professionally-staged. He’s worked with Sasha Hutton and Sam Follett from the Newfoundland Staging Co. for that purpose.
Studies have demonstrated that home staging is an effective and expeditious way to sell your home for the best possible price. As Follett points out, “No matter what your listing price or square footage is, you need to properly prepare your home for the market.”
The designing duo is keen on elevating the appeal of the homes they take charge of. For their ‘occupied’ home staging consultations, they’ll walk through the properties and make suggestions regarding furniture placement, de-cluttering, and paint, whereas for the ‘unoccupied’ ones, they stress the importance of staging.
“Most people can’t visualize themselves in an empty house. They find it difficult to picture where their furniture would go; whether or not it would fit; what the layout would be like; and how it would look. Staging provides a scale for the space,” explains Follett, adding they also hang art on the walls; place rugs on the floors; décor on the tables; dress the beds; and layer the furniture with throws and cushions.
In terms of a design aesthetic that’s gaining widespread appeal, it’s clean and contemporary.
“We’re seeing a lot of white walls, white kitchens, and black finishes,” says Follett. “When you decide to sell something, you want to show it at its best; there’s no exception when it comes to selling your house. We help you prepare your home for the market, so that it reflects its full potential.”
The real estate market balance is strongly leaning towards the seller currently.
That is what Ron David, President of the Rideau-St. Lawrence Real Estate Board says.
“There’s still a shortage of inventory. The buyers are out there and they are active and they either want to purchase or need to purchase, so what we are experiencing are multiple offers on most of the sales and listings. Which, of course, also relates to a shorter time on the market.”
David says in Leeds and Grenville they’re finding they’re having an influx of people coming to the area from communities like Ottawa, Toronto, Brampton, Kitchener and Oshawa. He says the cause of the influx is price saying this area is still a great bargain. David adds people being able to work from home is another reason when they get an exceptional deal here to work from home.
David says the Ontario Real Estate Association will be bringing a plan to Premier Ford’s government to outline how housing can help drive Ontario’s post-COVID economic recovery. He says presentations to MPPs will be done next week for the plan.
The local real estate market set more records in August, with total home sales increasing nearly 40 per cent from the same time in 2019.
There were 260 homes sold last month, shattering the previous record of 210 set in August 2017. It was also the first time more than 250 homes were sold in a month in the Huron-Perth region.
“One difference in this local market compared to many others in Ontario is that the massive rebound in sales has been accompanied by a sustained increase in new listings,” Huron Perth Association of Realtors president Sherrie Roulston said. “The market remains historically tight, and prices are moving up to record levels as a result.”
The average price of residential properties sold in August 2020 was a record $477,756, up 19.8 per cent from August 2019. The cumulative dollar value of all home sales in August 2020 was $124.2 million, a large increase of 65.7 per cent from the same month in 2019. This was also a new record, not only for August, but for any month in the local real estate association’s history.
“You’re in the heat of it through the month and things are going crazy, and when you see the percentages, it’s (surprising),” Roulston said.
August is traditionally a slower month for the housing market as homeowners and prospective buyers are busy taking holidays and preparing for school’s return, but COVID-19 has shifted the market in 2020.
“There are a lot (of buyers) coming from out of town, whether it be Kitchener, Guelph, the (Greater Toronto Area) for sure,” Roulston said. “It’s driving our market up.”
On a year-to-date basis, home sales have totalled 1,410 units over the first eight months of the year – now up four per cent from the same period in 2019.
There were 244 new residential listings in August 2020, which was three more than a year ago and the largest number of new listings added in the month of August in more than five years.
Overall supply continues to run at record low levels, though. Active residential listings numbered 284 units at the end of August, which was a significant decline of 39.4 per cent from the end of August 2019.
Residential months of inventory numbered 1.1 at the end of August 2020, down from the 2.5 months recorded at the end of August 2019 and below the long-run average of 4.7 months for this time of year. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
The year-to-date average price of homes sold is $434,401, rising 13.7 per cent from the first eight months of 2019.
For years, the Canadian real estate market has been dominated by a handful of cities, such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Everyone wanted to live in these red-hot markets – and for a good reason. These urban centres have everything you would want, from arts and entertainment to a diverse range of amenities. Then, of course, the coronavirus pandemic happened, and it turned everything upside down, including the dominant trends within the Canadian real estate market.
Who would have predicted at the start of 2020 that big city dwellers would be fleeing these metropolises to live in rural areas? This is one of the trends unfolding in the fallout of the COVID-19 public health crisis. With more Canadian businesses embracing work-from-home policies, many people are taking advantage of the opportunity to relocate to cottage country. As such, small cottage country towns are becoming attractive destinations for homebuyers.
Whether you are ready to pack up and leave your city-living days behind, or you’re looking for your next big investment opportunity, here’s what you need to know about some of the hottest markets in Canadian cottage country.
Canadian Real Estate: The Hottest Markets Across Cottage Country
#1 Kawartha Lakes, Ontario
The Kawartha Lakes has long been a getaway target for Torontonians since it is roughly a 90-minute drive from the heart of the city. The region is mostly known for its cottage vacations, but it offers a diverse array of activities and sights, including horseback riding, boating, hiking trails, golf, and so much more. Plus, you can access the Trans Canada Trail and Ferris Provincial Park. Now that the pandemic has altered buying trends, Kawartha is turning into an all-season home for many city dwellers.
According to the Kawartha Lakes Real Estate Association (KLREA), residential home sales surged 39.5 per cent in July. Home prices rose 3.8 per cent to a record high of $480,164. Since Kawartha is becoming a top destination for homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), there has been a surge in demand, but supply has been unable to keep up, which has turned the municipality into a seller’s market.
#2 Muskoka Lakes, Ontario
Like the Kawarthas, Muskoka is at the top of the list of most popular cottage country destinations. And, like the Kawarthas, Muskoka provides so much more than an idyllic getaway. From Gravenhurst to Bracebridge, you can relish in great seasonal festivals, hiking, wineries, and art galleries, all year long.
The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® reported a 29.8-per-cent jump in non-waterfront residential sales and a 64.2-per-cent spike in waterfront sales in July. Prices within Muskoka have also popped: 15.5 per cent for non-waterfront properties ($385,250) and 21.5 per cent for waterfront housing ($675,000). The housing supply in Muskoka remains low, but the demand continues to rise, resulting in a seller’s market.
#3 Gulf Islands, British Columbia
If you desire to be on the west coast, consider the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. This has long been a much-desired cottage destination, mainly for its five major islands (Pender, Galiano, Mayne, Salt Spring and Saturna). Although the Gulf Islands are appealing due to the fact that you can choose to disconnect, or you can still stay connected to the outside world with frequent B.C. Ferries, water taxis and private boats.
The Gulf Islands have been steadily rising for several years now, and real estate agents in British Columbia say that the region could attract even more interest in the months to come. Over the last year, prices have risen as much as 41.61 per cent. Since 2015, prices have gone up as much as 132.7 per cent!
#4 Eastern Townships, Quebec
For years, people have rented cottages for their chalet-style getaways in Eastern Townships. The Quebec region has 89 municipalities, including Magog, Sherbrooke and Coaticook. In addition to being surrounded by nature, the southeastern Quebec region has plenty of gourmet wine facilities, spas, golf courses, and winter sports, as well as more than a dozen national and regional parks that can be enjoyed year-round.
Data from the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers suggest transactions climbed as much as 20 per cent in this region. Prices above the $500,000 level are also the new norm, and experts forecast that prices will continue to go up amid more Montrealers fleeing to the suburbs.
#5 Frontenac County, Ontario
Frontenac County is a three-hour drive from Toronto, sandwiched between Kingston and Ottawa. It would be easy to surmise that Frontenac is attracting mostly Torontonians, but the urban flight trend is bringing people from large cities across Ontario. The main problem is that affordable all-season cottages do not stay on the market long, especially those priced below $500,000.
In July, Kingston and its surrounding areas witnessed a new sales record, rising 35.8 per cent from the same period last year, says Kingston and Area Real Estate Association (KAREA). The average price of homes sold was an astounding $458,026, which was up 15.2 per cent from July 2019.
Earlier this spring, many cottage country mayors discouraged urbanites from leaving their big cities to come to these small towns for fear of spreading the highly infectious respiratory illness. But these warnings might not have been enough for city dwellers searching for vacation homes or all-season cottages. As people from the nation’s largest cities seek less densely populated communities, cottage country destinations nationwide can anticipate a massive boom – and this could last all year long for many of these rural regions. For realtors within these small communities, perhaps the fiercely competitive bidding wars commonplace in Toronto and Vancouver’s real estate transactions, will become the new norm in 2021. Stranger things – like for example, a global pandemic and killer hornets – have happened.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.