Local real estate market stays hot despite pandemic

HOT BUY- Prince Edward County's real estate market remained active through December, traditionally a period of dormancy. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)



It was former Wellington Duke-turned-Vancouver Real Estate agent and national housing market analyst Stephen Saretsky who noted in a tweet Sunday that “Canada’s housing market has less than 100,000 active listings for sale. That’s the lowest inventory on record based on more than 30 years of data.”

While the national volume of housing stock may be at a low and that trend is mirrored somewhat locally, “For sale” and “Sold” signs in Prince Edward County were still being planted in front yards a better than average clip.

With the demand of buyers yearning to relocate from urban areas, real estate market sales in the County have almost doubled in rate to what they were the previous  year and PEC is very much a seller’s haven these days.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic,  the supercharged real estate market has not lost any forward momentum over the early winter months according to a local real estate agent.

In a normal year, real estate in the County slows to a crawl as the holidays approach, but December 2020 housing sales almost doubled compared to December 2019 housing sales.

“Demand is being driven by people looking to get out of Toronto,” said Treat Hull, Broker of Record, Treat Hull & Associates Ltd., Brokerage. “This is occurring across rural Ontario and is not limited to the County and it’s not first-time buyers, it’s anything but.” 

In the last 12 months housing sold in the County has seen a staggering change and has been powered by existing home sales, particularly those valued between $500,000 and $1 million.

Also on the uptick are homes between $1-1.5 million and $1.5. million and over.

The 4th quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2020 of existing home sales, sales under $500,000 (A diminishing product) fell by nearly half in 2020 compared to 2019, however percentages for homes north of $500,000 grew rapidly with sales of homes over $1 million doubling compared to last year.

Hull said the sales in  the under $500,000 in new homes are almost exclusively local buyers.

“New subdivisions will be the only growing source of more affordable housing in the future with many of these buyers being local,” Hull stated, “Less expensive new homes in sub-divisions are a different product segment than more expensive detached homes. Most people from the GTA come to the County to ‘live the rural dream’, not to get a standardized home in a sub-division. Most higher-end buyers won’t say ‘We couldn’t get the 5-acre private rural home we were looking for, so we’ll get a house in a new sub-division instead. New sub-divisions are a means to increase the supply of more affordable housing available, but they won’t have a big impact on the market for more expensive detached homes.”

In terms of 2021, it’s difficult to predict if a national slow down will have any impact on the real estate market in Prince Edward County.

“At this point it hard to say what 2021 will look like. Will the flood of Toronto buyers continue despite the lockdown? Or will the cumulative damage to the economy be so great that it undermines consumer confidence, cutting off the Toronto demand in the process? Both outcomes are plausible,” Hull said.

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