N.L. real estate having banner year post-lockdown, says industry association
'We've just had the best July we've had in decades,' says CEO of Association of Realtors
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians haven't let the restrictions of a global pandemic stop them from buying and selling homes.
In fact, over the last two months the province recorded some of its strongest sales numbers in years, according to Bill Stirling, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Realtors.
"We've just had the best July we've had in decades in terms of the number of sales across the province," Stirling said.
"I've been in this role now for a little over five years and it's the first time that I can feel some excitement and a little bit of a pulse in the marketplace."
Stirling attributes the boom in sales to the tight lockdown under pandemic regulations in March and April, on top of a harsh winter that also kept people mostly inside after record snowfalls buried the province's east coast in January.
The lack of sales through the lockdown months saw sales come roaring back as the province began to reopen, he said.
"We're going to finish August with probably the best August we've had in five or six years," Stirling said.
Further, Stirling believes the pandemic itself may have actually helped boost sales, where travel hesitant customers, travel bans throughout Canada and the closure of the Canada-United States border allowed people to sit on their money.
"Personally I think there's a lot of people who would normally be spending their discretionary income on a trip down south, or a trip to Europe or a trip to Toronto to see a hockey game, none of which is happening," he said.
"That discretionary money is finding its way into real estate and renovations and that sort of thing."
Good prices, good buyers
Realtor Martin Byrne says 2020 will probably be his best sales year to date.
Byrne said most summers are generally a slow period for real estate but this summer is the busiest he's been in 10 years.
"The number of sales have shot up. We were down 30 per cent to start off the year, I guess with lockdown and Snowmageddon," Byrne said.
"We're now down 10 per cent, but with taking into consideration the sales are actually up 16 per cent for the year over year and sales prices in St. John's have actually risen for the first time in a long while."
Both Byrne and Stirling said there's a lot of movement from first-time home buyers right now, but all areas of the market are moving, including properties listed at over $1 million.
Both also say the province is a buyer's market, and low interest rates are helping people make the decision to buy.
With files from Carolyn Stokes