Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
May 18, 2024
16° Cloudy

Up Swing

After months, if not years, of stalled inventory and high rates, the time to act is now.
<p>Overlooking Picton Bay from the Loyalist Parkway. (Photo courtesy of Susan Smythe-Bishop)</p>
Overlooking Picton Bay from the Loyalist Parkway. (Photo courtesy of Susan Smythe-Bishop)

It’s not just the weather. An early spring has hit the 2024 real estate market, too.

If you’ve been waiting, now is the time to act. Prices are beginning to move up from last year’s lows, when they were down about 30 per cent over pandemic highs.

The Central Lakes Association of Realtors reports 17 single family homes sold in Prince Edward County in February, up from January’s 13. The average price jumped from $718,000 to $830,000, while the median held steady at $642,000.

Their advice? Seize opportunity now, before the market picks up, and prices rise further. 

If sellers are feeling anxious though, Century 21’s Ned Burgess is upbeat: if prices have dropped over pandemic highs, he notes, they are still close to those of 2019-2021, which were also years of record highs.

“There has been a correction but prices are still comparable to the heydays,” he says.

“Numbers are still very good, comparable to those of 2019, which was a record year for real estate.”

The recent jump in real estate market activity reflects the fact that interest rates have not risen for eight months. The market is primed for a crucial cut as inflation hovers around the target range of 2 per cent.

In fact, shelter costs are one of the only remaining high inflation indicators. High mortgage rates and high rents are a direct result of the measures introduced to ease inflation.

Meanwhile, five-year fixed mortgage rates have already started to edge down. Variable rates will soon follow. At least, that is the hope.

“A rate cut would make all the difference for consumer confidence,” notes The County Guys’ Jess Van Hoek.

Both Mr. Burgess and Mr. Van Hoek have a long list of buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting. Some as long as two years. Most are looking for a permanent home in the County. Some are retiring, and some working remotely.

Mr. Van Hoek says as much as 25 per cent of his client base consists of remote workers leaving the city. Many are already here renting, waiting for interest rates to come down so they can afford to buy.

If sellers have dropped their prices, buyers are now meeting them — and coming more than halfway.

“Buyers are coming up faster than sellers are dropping,” says Mr. Burgess. “There is a new urgency for buyers. They’ve been waiting long enough, and spending money on rent.”

As Mr. Van Hoek notes, buyers now can expect a discount will come in the form of rate drops shortly afterwards. “Buyers know that if they don’t move in, then others will. Now is the time. Prices are definitely not going any lower.”

The reverse is the case.

 “Prices have ticked up,” says Mr. Burgess. “We are no longer at the bottom.”

“Now is a good time to strike,” agrees Mr. van Hoek, who says his phone has been ringing since January 2. “Normally there’s a holiday hangover but not this year. It started the second the holidays were over.”

Mr. Burgess agrees. “I’m seeing more and more places come up for sale and also more contracts signed. Things are definitely moving, especially now in the higher range of 1.1 million to 1.5 million,” says Mr. Burgess. “Earlier it was the 600k-700k, middle-range properties getting the action, and the higher price points were harder to sell.”

“People should be acting now, because once rates actually do come down that will bring people on the market and you will be competing.”

“Get in now before anyone else does. Now is the time.”

Royal LePage’s Elizabeth Crombie notes that Ottawa and Toronto are seeing multiple offer scenarios again. “There’s a ripple effect. If there is action in Toronto, it will definitely hit the County, and I’d say sooner rather than later.”

“Things look optimistic, and not because of a rate cut —they are still being tough on that. People on the sidelines want to engage ahead of rate cuts. Because as soon as those come prices will come up.”

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. 

Mr. Van Hoek concurs. “By the spring, from what I’m seeing and the conversations we are having, this could be a very, very busy market.” 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 11 edition of The Picton Gazette
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