Housing glut creates buyers' market
Average house takes months to sell
An oversupply of houses for sale across the province is creating a buyers' market, according to the New Brunswick Real Estate Association.
There are currently 6,700 active listings on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and more than 1,000 of them just came onto the market last month.
Many of the listings are in Saint John, said real estate agent Bob McVicar.
The average house in the city is now sitting on the market for about four months before it sells; a significant increase from a few years ago, he said.
But the glut of inventory means a tougher sell.
"We all have lots of listings and we all have lots of unhappy people trying to sell their houses who just can't quite understand, in spite of the numbers — why haven't you sold my house?" he said.
More than 100 homeowners in the greater Saint John area knocked their prices down last week, said McVicar.
Ann Homiak, who wants to downsize to a condo now that her husband has taken an electrician's job in the oil patch out west, is offering a cash rebate on her house in Rothesay.
"We knew there were a lot of houses on the market and we thought — what could we do that's different and would attract a buyer to buy our house?" she said.
Economy having impact
McVicar says the housing situation has been in a downward slide since Irving Oil Ltd., cancelled its proposed second oil refinery.
"Builders were building ahead of the curve because everything the economic people were saying about the economy in Saint John was that when the second oil refinery was finally built and came on stream, it would fundamentally change the economy here," he said.
Interest rates are low, but the federal government recently tightened lending rules and mortgage brokers, such as Cynthia Kelly, say that has has a dampening impact on first-time buyers.
An uncertain economy is also pushing people to stay put, said Kelly.
"People are deciding not to sell and not to upsize and so they're refinancing to do renovations and stay at the home that they're in," she said.