RE/MAX First Time Buyer Report 2011 for St. John’s

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

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