The low inventory in Hamilton's real estate market continued in April and it's either scary news or great news depending on which end of the deal you are on.

Between January to April this year, listings are 2.7 per cent lower than the same period in 2013, according to a report by the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB). In contract, sales volume is 2.5 per cent higher and the average sale price in April — $401,828 — is 7.9 per cent higher for the same period.

Not only are the new listings selling for higher prices, they are also selling faster. The average days on market decreased from 40 to 34 days for freehold properties and 42 to 35 days for condo properties, the report said. The listing inventory at the end of April was 9.3 per cent lower than last year at the same time.

“It is scary news for buyers,” said Tim Mattioli, president of RAHB and also a working agent. “Those are scary numbers because there's only so much product out there.”

Mattioli added that it is not uncommon for a singe property to have multiple offers — which typically means higher sale prices.

For sellers, however, the latest numbers are in their favour.

“If the property is priced right, they are selling very quickly,” Mattioli said.

The April report was released on Tuesday. The RAHB cautioned that the numbers can be useful in establishing long term trends, but should not be used to measure if the value of a property has changed.

Advice for buyers, sellers

The listings appear to have increased in percentage, but the numbers can be deceiving, Mattioli explained.

Compared to April of last year, the number of residential listings increased 3.7 per cent, thanks to a 2.4 per cent increase in freehold listings and 10.1 per cent increase in condo listings. These increases in percentage may seem impressive at first, Mattioli said, but they are the result of an increase of a few dozens properties. 

For example, residential listings increased from 2014 in April 2013 to 2089 in April of this year – only 75 more listings for the month in the entire area serviced by MAHB.

The 10.1 per cent jump in condo listings came from an increase from 338 in April 2013 to 372 a year later – an addition of only 34 properties.

“We were commenting on the low inventory last year at the same time, and this year the listing inventory is even lower,” RAHB CEO Ross Godsoe said in a statement. 

However, sellers shouldn't take the market for granted, Mattioli said. They should still prepare the property for sale with upgrades and renovations and price it accordingly.

For buyers struggling in a competitive market, especially first-time buyers, Mattioli suggested they might have to settle for a less ideal, but more affordable house first and then work toward their dream house.

“Get in, get what you can afford, and let the market help you with your next home.”