Demand for housing in St. John’s remains healthy, particularly among first time buyers, despite a decline in year-to-date sales. Buyer’s market conditions and the best choice of product in years have buoyed the entry-level segment, along with wage gains, economic growth and rising consumer confidence levels. Affordability continues to be favourable, with increased earnings offsetting the more moderate price growth of late. Most young home buyers are now active from $200,000 to $250,000. Those buying new construction will have to ante up more—typically between $230,000 and $280,000 to start—as the price of new construction has risen at a greater rate. Those on a tight budget will find that homes listed below $200,000 are few and far between and tend to sell for close to full price, if listed at fair market value. Some even generate a rare multiple offer.
To illustrate the supply issue, only 34 homes have sold year-to-date under $175,000, accounting for just 10 per cent of all sales, and only 39 listings under that price point are currently available. Given that, buyers at the lowest end of the price spectrum will have to act more quickly. The housing mix in St. John’s continues to favour the single detached home, particularly in the first-time buyer segment.
Of the 34 homes sold under $175,000, only three were condominiums. Entry-level condominium product remains limited in St. John’s, as builders continue to focus on the mid-range—units priced between $250,000 and $350,000. While condominiums are gaining traction with younger buyers, they remain only a small portion of entry-level sales. Condominiums now start from $165,000 to $175,000 for an older, 650 to 750 sq. ft. walk-up unit on Thorburn Rd., Dalton Ave., and in Pleasantville.
With the current oversupply of homes listed for sale in St. John’s, buyers remain in the driver’s seat. That, along with historically low interest rates, continues to serve as a significant impetus.
Detached homes can be found from $169,000 for an older bungalow requiring work, located on the peripherals. Older homes are most popular. Most sought-after are properties priced between $210,000 and $250,000 in established neighbourhoods such as Cowan Heights, Mount Pearl and Paradise. Most buyers are realizing their choice location, with little need to compromise. Those that must choose are opting to spend a little more, if necessary.
Solid demand among first-time purchasers is expected to carry over in to the spring market, with new financing criteria expected to have little impact. In fact, look to sales in the entry-level segment to prompt greater activity in the move-up range in the months ahead. February year-to-date sales were 11 per cent off year-ago levels, with 359 sales recorded, while average price continued its ascent at $255,512, up just over five per cent.
Full RE/MAX Media Release for the First Time Buyers Report 2011
First-time buyers entering home ownership throughout Canada ahead of higher interest rates, says RE/MAX
Driven by the threat of higher interest rates down the road, first-time buyers are contributing to strong upward momentum in residential housing markets across the country, according to a report released by RE/MAX.
The RE/MAX First-Time Buyers Report, highlighting trends and developments in nineteen major Canadian centres, found that low interest rates and balanced market conditions have provided significant impetus in 2011, particularly at lower price points. Just over 30 per cent of markets are reporting sales in excess of 2010 levels as a result, while almost 70 per cent have experienced an upswing in average price. Leading the country in terms of percentage increases in the number of homes sold are Western Canadian markets, including Saskatoon (up close to 15 per cent), Greater Vancouver (up close to 12 per cent), and Winnipeg (up just over 11 per cent). With an average price hike of close to 20 per cent year-to-date (February), Greater Vancouver continues to show unprecedented strength, followed by Hamilton-Burlington (eight per cent), Quebec City (seven per cent), Winnipeg (close to seven per cent), Greater Toronto (five per cent), and Greater Montreal (five per cent).
Despite homeownership rates approaching 70 per cent, there is clearly room for growth as entry-level buyers make their moves from coast-to-coast, undeterred by higher housing values and changes to lending criteria. Many purchasers intent on realizing homeownership are scaling back on expectations or are willing to sacrifice location, quality and/or size to make their dream a reality – not unlike generations before them.
Inventory levels, while tight in several larger centres, are more balanced overall, giving first-time buyers a good selection of housing product from which to choose. Not surprisingly, condominium apartments and town homes have become the first step for many entry-level purchasers, especially in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, London-St. Thomas, Hamilton-Burlington, Greater Toronto, the Island of Montreal, and Halifax-Dartmouth where average prices have risen unabated in recent years.
With the Canadian economy on firmer footing overall, residential real estate is well-positioned moving into the traditionally busy spring market. Consumer confidence is climbing in conjunction with economic performance, and concerns over a secondary recession fade with each passing day. The mood is cautiously optimistic, as first-time buyers enter the market.
Changes to recent financing criteria have not created the anticipated run up in activity in most markets. From a financial standpoint, most rookie home buyers remain quite prudent. Those making the leap are not doing it lightly, buying within their means. While this most recent round of policy tightening will likely have a negligible effect on demand, the message is getting across.
Affordability remains a growing concern in most markets, and—aside from first-time purchasers—no one is more in tune with that than housing planners and developers. In fact, the growing demand for reasonably-priced product is creating a shift in the country’s housing mix. That trend is expected to gain traction in coming years, as builders look to create greater options for those seeking to realize homeownership. In recent years, builders have helped ease the move to homeownership by concentrating on intensification—condominium buildings with smaller suites and small-lot subdivisions offering detached, compact homes at a fraction of the cost of a traditional single-family home. On the flip side, the affordability factor is also breathing new life into tired older neighbourhoods, and that, in turn, is contributing to rising values.
As prices escalate, first-time buyers are indeed spending more—some out of necessity, but others are simply in a position to do so. Unlike in years past—a greater percentage of today’s first-time buyer pool is comprised of dual-income, college or university-educated couples with solid earnings. They’re spending close to average price or slightly more to secure—in most cases—a better location or a home that will grow with them. Yet, the fact remains that those on a tighter budget can get in for considerably less, with reasonable choices in every major market across the country. While some may feel discouraged by eroding affordability levels, the underlying confidence in the concept of homeownership is rising.
While market conditions are one thing that influences first-time buyers, few things trump the fundamental belief in homeownership. Today’s entry-level buyers are steadfast in their mindset. They know they have to live somewhere, but they simply don’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage. Savvy or practical, they remain a driving force. The bottom line is that the demand for entry-level product will remain steady. The role of starter homes in the marketplace is becoming ever more vital.
Full RE/MAX Media Release can be viewed here.
St. John’s real estate market spent much of the past decade fluctuating between buyers and balanced market conditions. These conditions characterized the resale residential sector 72 per cent of the period from 2000 to 2010 (36 per cent respectively). Sellers held the cards just 28 per cent of the 11-year period—a fact that may come as a surprise, given the strong run up in average price in recent years. The compounded annual rate of return for homeowners in Newfoundland Labrador, based on average price from 2000 to 2010, was 8.14 per cent—ranking it fifth among Canada’s major centres and first among the Atlantic provinces ($99,525 vs. $235,341). Newfoundland’s sales-to-new listing ratio hovered at 54 per cent during last decade. Home buying activity has been solid at the outset of 2011, as Newfoundlander’s steadily regain confidence in Canada’s economic recovery and the brightening outlook for the province.
Several positive developments of late have bolstered optimism, the most substantial of which has been the Lower Churchill announcement. Business confidence is high and non-residential building activity is up considerably. Buyers have taken notice, moving off the sidelines, secure in the belief that the tide is turning. Affordability continues to play a role in Newfoundland. First-time buyers are leading the charge, with sales between $150,000 and $250,000 most active in Newfoundland, accounting for 36 per cent of all activity.
In St. John’s, entry-level purchasers are driving the $250,000 to $350,000 price point. The city’s newer subdivisions on the peripherals are most sought-after, including areas such as Paradise. Move-up buyers remain active. However, in this category, many transactions are conditional on the sale of another property. Upper-end purchasers continue to make their moves, with sales in the $500,000 to $650,000 price range relatively brisk. Luxury homes in Clovelly Trails and King William Estates remain very popular with affluent purchasers.
Days on market had been on the upswing across all price points post June 2010, but should begin to fall as absorption rates improve.
Lack of inventory will be the greatest challenge facing housing markets across the country this Spring, according to a report released by RE/MAX.
The RE/MAX Market Trends Report 2010, which examined real estate trends and developments in 16 markets across the country, found that unusually strong activity during one of the traditionally quietest months of the year has led to a sharp decline in active listings in 81 per cent of markets surveyed. The threat of higher interest rates, tighter lending criteria, and in British Columbia and Ontario, the introduction of the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) have clearly served to kick-start real estate activity from coast-to-coast, prompting an unprecedented influx of purchasers. As a result, 87.5 per cent of markets posted an increase in sales in January. Average price appreciated in 81 per cent of markets surveyed.
There have never been so many motivating factors in play at once. We’re in for a heated Spring market that will, in all probability, spill over into the summer months, as the window of opportunity draws to a close. The supply of homes listed for sale has been drastically reduced, housing values are once again on the upswing, and banks and governments are moving in unison toward stricter lending policies.
Markets experiencing the tightest inventory levels include Toronto (- 41 per cent); Kitchener-Waterloo (-33 per cent); Ottawa (- 30 per cent); Victoria (- 30 per cent); Greater Vancouver (- 27 per cent); Halifax-Dartmouth (- 19 per cent); London-St. Thomas (- 18 per cent); Regina (- 16 per cent); and Winnipeg (- 13 per cent). Conditions were still balanced, but starting to tighten in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, particularly in the single-family detached category.
The highest year-over-year sales gains were reported in Greater Vancouver (152 per cent), Kelowna (121 per cent), Greater Toronto (87 per cent), Victoria (69 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington (58 per cent), London-St. Thomas (55 per cent) and Calgary (47 per cent). Western Canadian cities dominated the list of centres with the highest increases in price appreciation. These included Victoria at 25.5 per cent, Kelowna at 22 per cent, Greater Vancouver at 19.5 per cent, and Winnipeg at 17 per cent. St. John’s (23 per cent) and Toronto (19 per cent) were also among the frontrunners for price growth.
Affordability is the catalyst for the vast majority of purchasers in today’s housing market. While homeownership is still within reach in many major centres, levels are slipping. There is a growing sense, on both sides of the fence, that the time to act is now.
While buyers are taking advantage of favourable conditions, sellers too are reaping the rewards. Competing bids are a factor in the marketplace once again, with well-priced listings—especially at the entry-level price point—experiencing multiple offers. Properties priced at fair-market value will likely sell quickly for top dollar. The overall pressure on sales and price is significant across the board – and it’s not likely to subside unless more inventory comes on-stream.
Housing performance expected to accelerate in 2010, as economic stability returns to Canadian markets, says RE/MAX
Mississauga, ON (December 3, 2009) – In the midst of one of the most tumultuous economic periods in recent history, residential real estate has proven to be a safe harbour, with sales and average price expected to post gains in most major Canadian cities in 2009, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.
The RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook for 2010 examined residential real estate trends in 23 markets. The report found that sales are forecast to recover in almost all major centres by year-end 2009, led by an anticipated 45 per cent increase in Greater Vancouver. Two markets — Ottawa and Quebec City — are expected to hit historic highs in the number of homes sold. Average price should post new records in 65 per cent of markets surveyed this year. As economic performance ramps up across the country, so too will residential real estate. Eighty-three per cent of markets (19/23) are expecting sales to increase over 2009 levels while housing values are forecast to escalate in 91 per cent (21/23) of Canadian centres in 2010. The remaining markets will match 2009 levels.
Approximately 465,000 homes are expected to change hands nationally in 2009, a seven per cent increase over one year ago. Canadian housing values are forecast to close the year at $318,000, up five per cent from $303,594 in 2008. By year-end 2010, the number of homes sold is predicted to climb another two per cent to 475,000 units. The average price of a home is also expected to experience an uptick, rising two per cent to $325,000 – the highest level in Canadian history.
“2009 was without question the year of the house,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Real estate not only defied industry and analysts’ predictions in 2009 — it’s performance went well beyond the realm of expectation by boosting consumer confidence levels and ultimately kick starting the national economic engine. While low interest rates were a principle factor driving home buying activity, no one can discount the value that Canadians place in owning a home.”
With the worst of the recession over, residential real estate markets in major Canadian centres are poised for growth in the final quarter of 2009, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.
The RE/MAX Bricks and Mortar Report found the bounce back that began in early Spring has made this recession one of the shortest on record for real estate. Low interest rates, pent-up demand, and improved affordability levels have all played a role in the recovery now well underway. Percentage increases in sales from January to August 2009 were led by Vancouver, (up a substantial 14 per cent to 23,158), Victoria (up 7.4 per cent to 5,266), Edmonton (up 6.2 per cent to 13,691), Regina (up five per cent to 2,597), Ottawa (up 2.4 per cent to 10,830) and Toronto (up 1.8 per cent to 58,421).
Housing values are already ahead of record-breaking 2008 levels in seven of the 11 markets surveyed, including Newfoundland-Labrador (18.1 per cent year to $203,584), Regina (6.4 per cent to $244,088), Halifax-Dartmouth (3.5 per cent to $239,633), Winnipeg (3.5 per cent to $207,006), Ottawa (3.3 per cent to $301,684), and Toronto (up 0.3 per cent to $385,978). Nationally, average price hovers at $312,585, up 0.5 per cent over one year ago.
“Markets are heating up across the country,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Purchasers are clearly taking advantage of affordable prices and rock bottom interest rates. Those who missed the boat in years past have found that sitting on the sidelines can be a costly move. Prices are on the upswing and inventory levels are tightening, so the push toward home ownership is expected to continue throughout the Fall and possibly into early 2010.”
The recovery of Canada’s resale housing markets speaks to the tremendous value Canadians place on the importance of owning a home. The number of Canadians overall who own a home has increased since 1981 from 62.1 per cent to 68.4 per cent, with some markets posting even higher homeownership rates — Calgary (74.1), St. John’s (71.5), Regina (70.1), and Edmonton (69.2). Significant gains have also been made over the same period in markets such as Ottawa — where homeownership levels rose from 51.4 per cent to 66.7 per cent — and Toronto, where levels rose fro m 57.3 to 67.6 per cent.
Generation X purchasers poised to be a major force in recreational property markets across the Canada
Generation X purchasers are poised to replace aging baby boomers as the major force in recreational property markets across the country, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.
The demographic shift was noted in the 2009 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report highlighting sales, pricing, trends and developments in 50 Canadian markets. The report found demand from Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1980) has nearly doubled over one year ago. Seventy-four per cent of markets surveyed this year reported a marked trend toward thirty-something buyers snapping up affordably-priced product, ranging from waterfront cottages to resort condominiums, compared to just 40 per cent in 2008.
The time to buy has never been better. With four exceptions, recreational property prices have softened in most major markets across the country. Only on the Newfoundland Coast and in Ontario, from Innisfil to Oro, Kingston, and Beaverton, have values increased this year compared to 2008. Starting prices remain similar to one year ago and in some cases are even higher.
“While buyer’s market conditions exist virtually across the board, sellers of recreational properties from coast-to-coast are clearly content to wait out the storm,” says Polzler. “They are in no hurry to unload their product. Many have held on to their properties for generations – they’re fully-owned yet underutilized, which has prompted some aging owners to list them for sale.”
The stats have been tallied and once again RE/MAX is leading the way in market share for St. John’s and surrounding areas. Over 40% of the real estate business in St. John’s is being transacted with RE/MAX Realtors and the RE/MAX branding.
As reported back in July for the first two quarters in 2008 for St. John’s real estate market update, RE/MAX has been consistantly hovering near 40%. In fact for over 5 years I’ve seen RE/MAX going from the mid thirties and up.