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Low inventory: COVID real estate price rally pushes through October –



When Yvan Rhéaume listed a semi-rural bungalow for sale last Friday, he hadn’t expected quite so much interest. The Right at Home sales agent was asking $950,000 for his client’s property in the West Lake Estates subdivision a few kilometres south of Carp.

Rhéaume was used to seeing strong bidding wars for residential properties listed between $400,000 and $500,000, but less competition for more expensive homes. This sale would prove different. By 7 p.m. Monday, the deadline for would-be buyers to submit offers, Rhéaume had received nine bids, all of them over the asking price. His clients accepted an offer for roughly $1.2 million.

“A house on the same street, the same size, had recently listed for $850,000 and sold for $1 million, so we knew we were in the right area as far as price goes,” Rhéaume said, “but I did not expect so many offers.”

His clients were ecstatic. They had planned to continue working for three more years until they were mortgage free and then move back to the Maritimes to be with family. Now those plans have been expedited.

Without doubt, this has been one of the strangest years for Ottawa’s housing resale market. After the number of sales plummeted more than 40 per cent year over year in March and April in response to the pandemic — and price increases dipped to single-digits — the city’s 3,000 real estate agents look to be making up all the ground lost and then some.  Sales of condos and single-family homes for the year will likely match the number posted in 2019, which was a very good year.

Average price gains since July have topped 20 per cent year over year for residential properties, including a 24.7 jump in October to $603,500, according to data published Wednesday by the Ottawa Real Estate Board. This data includes houses and condos sold in Ottawa proper as well as those in surrounding towns such Kemptville and Arnprior. Separating these two groups, the average price for residential properties sold in Ottawa improved 24 per cent to $665,000, while residential properties in the valley surged 30 per cent year over year to $442,000.

The price gains for condos across the Ottawa region were a less robust 15.5 per cent to $369,000. Indeed there are signs that the condo resale market is cooling somewhat as inventories climbed 14 per cent year over year compared to a 46 per cent decline in residential listings overall.

“The lack of inventory is definitely pushing up prices,” said Paul Rushforth, who runs the real estate agency that bears his name, “Next year will be strong as well.”

The Carp area sale encapsulates several key trends driving real estate prices.

The main push is coming from historically low interest rates that have sharply reduced borrowing costs associated with mortgages.

Residential property values here are also playing catch up with Vancouver and Toronto. Average house prices there and in surrounding areas surged more than 60 per cent between 2013 and 2017. Since then, Ottawa’s resale market has outpaced most of the rest of the country, albeit not enough to make up the difference. Prices here really began moving up sharply starting in mid-2019.

From June 2019 to September 2020, the benchmark price for single-family homes moved up 24 per cent to $581,000 according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Across the country, only Woodstock, Ont., saw a faster rate of price growth during this period.

The pandemic is also prompting a frantic search for more space.

“We’re seeing families with kids looking for bigger properties,” Rushforth said. “They’ve been cooped up in their existing houses for so long.”

Indeed, a look at the region’s real estate districts reveals a distinct shift favouring country living is under way. Residential prices in the Carp area surged 54 per cent year over year to $806,000 for the 16 homes sold in October, according to the Ottawa Real Estate Board. Other big gains in market value could be seen in semi-rural areas such as Greely, Manotick, Bells Corners and Stittsville.

Towns outside the city core also witnessed sharply increased interest. Gains in October topped 40 per cent year over year in Kemptville, Almonte and Smiths Falls.

“People who grew up in rural areas and moved downtown now have the opportunity to move back there,” said Zak Green, a sales representative with Engel & Völkers. “Retirees with great pensions are buying rural properties. So are younger people pre-children”.

The same night Yvan Rhéaume sold his Carp bungalow, a one-story home in North Kemptville listed for a shade under $400,000 also sparked a bidding war. The result: a final offer in excess of $540,000.

Another sign of the times.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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No rest in November for real estate market – Times Colonist



It might not feel like spring, but the Greater Victoria real estate market is sure acting like it, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Victoria Real Estate Board.

The region recorded 795 property sales last month, and while that is 195 fewer than October of this year, it is close to the record for the month of November, which was 892 sales recorded in 1989.

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“Once again, we’ve tracked an unexpectedly busy month for the Victoria area real estate market,” said board president Sandi-Jo Ayers.

The market has been busy for a while now, as the region flirted with 1,000 sales each month from July through October, suggesting the usually busy spring market – March through June – was delayed until July this year.

“Obviously, we lost a couple of months in the spring,” said Ayers, noting the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the market in April and parts of May and might be the cause of the pent-up demand that has fuelled recent sales figures.

Ayers also noted the market has benefited from historically low interest rates.

“The pandemic may have pushed people’s plans ahead a little faster,” she said, noting those who had been considering retiring or moving up or down in the market might have decided to take advantage of the low-interest environment.

Last month, 361 single-family homes changed hands, down from the 474 that were sold in October, while 262 condos sold, down from 304 in October.

GRAPHIC - Real estate stats, November 2020

While sales numbers dropped, prices didn’t.

Last month the benchmark price of a single-family home in the region increased to $813,700 from $752,300 in November last year and $795,200 in October this year. Condo prices also increased to $508,400 last month, from $505,500 last year and $504,500 in October 2019.

“We have low inventory and have for a number of years and that puts pressure on pricing,” said Ayers.

There were 1,813 active listings for sale at the end of November, 24.4 per cent fewer than were available at the same time last year.

Ayers said inventory below 2,000 at this time of year is a significant marker, as the region tends to see numbers that low only by the end of the year.

The result of the drop in inventory has led to a significant increase in the number of homes receiving multiple offers and a significant number of properties selling for more than their asking price.

“We have seen that in the last nine months – properties coming to market and within five days they often get multiple offers,” said Ayers. “That tells us inventory is low and properties in desirable areas and priced well get attention from buyers.”

As for what’s to come for real estate in this region, Ayers said it could be more of the same.

“The fact is, the market has outperformed anyone’s expectations in the midst of this pandemic. There is a chance we will see a slow levelling of activity over the winter – which is what we would expect seasonally. However, because of our consistently low inventory, pressure on pricing and multiple-offer situations will likely continue as we remain in a demand-heavy environment,” she said.

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Vancouver real estate: Owners begin filing info for B.C.'s new 'hidden ownership' registry – Vancouver Sun



Article content continued

“We’re all going to require transparency reports and fairly elaborate, written documentation between adult child and mom and dad. These are going to require more time and more money.”

Usher supports the registry and was part of the panel that recommended the registry and other changes to B.C. real estate regulations.

“All of this information is going to be available to taxation authorities, police and government agencies, the public to some degree, a portion will be publicly searchable starting next year,” he said. “These are all trade-offs.”

“It’s being done with good intention, with the best of ideas, but unless we, for example, properly fund and coordinate investigative agencies, all we’ve done is created a very expensive, massive database.”

With a file from The Canadian Press

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Okanagan-Shuswap real estate boards merging to form 13th largest association in Canada – Kelowna Capital News



Two real estate boards in the Okanagan-Shuswap region will soon become one and together represent 1,600 Realtors from Revelstoke to the U.S. border.

Currently known as the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB), and the South Okanagan Real Estate Board (SOREB), come Jan. 1 they will be known as the Association of Interior Realtors.

Following the amalgamation in the new year, the Association of Interior Realtors will become the 13th largest Realtor association in Canada.

READ MORE: Demand continues to drive Okanagan real estate markets

The new assocation will represent Realtors from Revelstoke to the U.S. border, east to Rock Creek and west to Eastgate Manning Park. It will also encompass the communities of Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and Dawson Creek.

Under OMREB there are 88 real estate offices within the southern interior, from Peachland to Revelstoke.

SOREB encompasses 34 real estate offices in the southern interior and six officers in northern B.C.

According to both organizations, this amalgamation will allow them to combine resources, and work together to, “form a more perfect union” to ultimately serve and promote, “the value Realtors bring to the real estate transaction.”

OMREB’s current President Kim Heizmann will remain as President of the new organization, and SOREB’s President Lyndi Cruickshank will take the position of Vice-President.

According to the board, the new Association of Interior Realtors will provide leadership and support to its members in their pursuit of professional excellence within the interior region of British Columbia.

“The Board of Directors and the dedicated staff team will continue to improve the services available to the organization’s Realtor members and further promote the value of using a Realtor, both provincially and nationally,” the board stated in an email.

READ MORE: Okanagan real estate board agrees with provincial call to halt open houses

READ MORE: B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

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