Real estate sales in Lethbridge enjoyed a bumper month in July as people took advantage of lower interest rates, and “pent-up” sales finally came through after being delayed due to COVID-19 earlier this year.
“The city stats continued to trend upward for July,” confirms Cathy Maxwell, CEO of the Lethbridge and District Association of REALTORS, “and we believe that’s because there were pent-up deals that didn’t happen in April and May; so we are seeing them happening now. What that’s doing is it is causing around a 14 per cent increase in sales for the month of July.”
The market started out the year hot compared to 2018 and 2019, says Maxwell, but COVID-19 put a bit of a kink in it through the province-wide spring shutdown.
“How do you show a place when people are afraid of COVID? That does play a part,” she acknowledges.
Looking at the overall numbers year-to-date, Maxwell says the local real estate market has done astonishingly well, all things considered.
“Year-to-date, we are only about one per cent higher than we were last year,” she states. “But that is still pretty good considering what we have just come through.”
Another bit of good news, says Maxwell, is local inventories of houses for sale have continued to come down over the past year, creating a good balance for both buyers and sellers in the Lethbridge area at the moment.
In 2019 at this point in the year there was about eight to 10 months of inventory available, creating a strong buyers’ market, she says, but as of August this year that inventory is sitting at about five to six months’ worth.
“It’s a pretty nicely balanced market,” Maxwell states. “Right now, we are sitting pretty good for Lethbridge and district.”
And, of course, says Maxwell, with housing sales staying strong at the moment, it is a good sign Lethbridge’s economy may be weathering the worst effects of the current COVID-driven worldwide recession fairly well for the time being.
“They say that with every house or property sold the economic spin-off is between $55,000 and $60,000 per unit sold,” she explains. “That is impactful on our community. This is a good sign, and we are sitting pretty good (as an economy) at the moment. This market is certainly an encouraging sign.”
Maxwell does not know what the next few months may bring with COVID cases reportedly on the rise across the province, but she is hopeful for Lethbridge things will continue to hum along in the real estate market at their current pace.
“Personally, I think we will still see a fairly strong August and September,” she says, “but COVID does play a part in consumer confidence, and what they think they can do. So who knows what that will be for the future?”
With football gone – hopefully returning as scheduled in 2021 – Mateas and the rest of the CFLers feel like a part of their life has been taken away.
“I’ve never missed football the way I do now,” he said. “I feel like there’s a piece missing right now. Hopefully I can manifest that sense of competition through commercial real estate. But I’ve never wanted to put on the pads and hit somebody more than I do right now.”
With football on the back burner for now, Mateas will keep working out and doing off-season football activities, but he’s also sharply focused on the new business side of his life. He’s also thinking about his friends, his family and his fiancee Chelsea.
“There isn’t a better motivating factor that helps me wake up in the morning with fire,” he said. “It keeps me awake at night and wakes me up early in the morning.”
Then, there are his teammates – in business and in the locker room.
“The bond you create with your (football) teammates through the wins, through the adversity and through the physical contact, you can’t find a parallel to that anywhere,” he said. “You put your body on the line for the benefit of your teammates and it creates a brotherhood you can’t recreate anywhere.”
As for his role as part of the team at Cushman and Wakefield Ottawa, Mateas said: “I’ve been working toward this for three years. I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve got great teammates – in football and in business.”
The first overall pick in the 2015 CFL Draft (out of the University of Connecticut), Mateas is home grown. He grew up around the fields at old Lansdowne Park (with his dad Traian a well-known local soccer coach), going to Merivale High School and playing football for the Myers Riders, Cumberland Panthers and Ottawa Sooners.
Members of Royal LePage Community Realty stand outside their Southview Drive office with a $1,000 check for Medicine Hat Family Services on Friday, the first of a dozen donations in the organization’s 12 Months of Giving campaign.–NEWS PHOTO RYAN MCCRACKEN
Forget the 12 days of Christmas, Royal LePage Community Realty is stepping up with 12 Months of Giving.
The local real estate team recently announced it will be taking $1,000 from its Institutional Advertising fund and giving it to a local not-for-profit group every month for the next year.
“We wanted to repurpose those funds and do something we could feel good about,” said Royal LePage Community Realty owner/broker Brooklyn Kalista, adding the Institutional Advertising fund is built through monthly contributions from agents.
“We support the community and the community supports us. Without community support it’s pretty hard to have success in our industry. It’s just wanting to be there for the community on a collective level. A lot of us do it personally and collectively throughout the year, but just seeing what was happening this year, specifically with COVID and everything else, we just thought this would be a really good time and a great way to repurpose funds and inject something back where we could.”
First up will be Medicine Hat Family Services, followed by the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society, the Santa Claus Fund, the food bank’s Brown Bag Lunch Program, the Kinsmen Club of Medicine Hat and Medicine Hat Soccer Association.
The second half of the campaign will feature donations to McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association, the local Mustard Seed, SPCA Medicine Hat, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Hat Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta.
Kalista says many of the team’s 46 members already volunteer their time at a number of these organizations throughout the year. When approaching the 12 Months of Giving campaign, Kalista says team members were asked to express which organizations mattered most to them.
“We kind of just picked things that really hit home, literally,” she said. “We went with things like bringing food to the table, things that deal with mental health – because obviously that’s been a really big thing for our community this last bit – and just family. Anything to do with those sorts of services that relate to everyday living, we wanted to make sure we were hitting.”
After figuring out the 12 recipients, Kalista says the team reached out to each one to co-ordinate a schedule that will help each organization at a time when it’s needed most.
“We put some thought into our timeline over the next 12 months, as to when it works best for those organizations. We connected with the organizations too, to see if there were times that were more opportune for them as well,” said Kalista. “We kept our one that goes directly to the Santa Claus Fund right around the time that we know we’re usually donating to them anyways. And we will collectively donate toys and games on top of what we’re doing. We did try to match up with the food bank for the brown bag lunch that they have going on right now.”
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.
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