Nfld. & Labrador

Looking to sell your house? It's going to take a while, say housing experts

Chris Janes of the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation says the housing situation should get better, but the province's demographics are casting a dark shadow.

Real estate agent Mike Turner has a few tips if you have to sell in this market

Mike Turner is the owner of Royal LePage Turner Realty in Gander. (Mike Turner/Facebook)

The Newfoundland and Labrador housing market is clogged up with places for sale, but real estate experts say it's going to get better soon — just in time to face new challenges from the province's dwindling population.

Mike Turner, the owner of Royal LePage Turner Realty in Gander, said the glut of houses for sale means people are waiting about four months, on average, for a house to be sold.

In a good market, they'd wait about 30 days, he said.

"This will be my 10th year selling real estate in October. And in some ways, this is like my first year. It's … a market that I've never dealt with before," he said. "You've really got to work to sell a house."

Looking at it another way, he says if nobody else put their house up for sale, it'd take 16 months to sell off all the houses for sale right now. That measurement is called "months of inventory," and it's a high one.

Turner posted this chart showing June's months of inventory numbers across Canadian provinces to his Facebook page. (Mike Turner/Facebook)

"Last year was a record, and now this year again," he said. "We're looking at two years and the market hasn't really changed much in the last two years."

Turner blames the slowdown in the province's economy for the buyer's market.

"And we've just come off an incredible growth and I don't think that was sustainable," Turner said. "This is the year of the correction, I guess we'll call it."

But this bumpy correction period is just about over, Turner said.

Population is the real issue, says CMHC

Chris Janes, senior analyst with the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation agrees. He says CMHC keeps a close eye on employment numbers in the province, and their data shows an overall growth since the start of the year.

"[The housing market] typically lags by several months; obviously, it's not going to happen right away. But once people see the economy's improving and they start to see their own personal situations improve … they might start to think about transitioning into a new home," he said.

Chris Janes, senior analyst with Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, says the province's population will be the real challenge for the housing market. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Janes says the bigger issue facing the housing market is the province's looming demographic issues, he said.

An aging population coupled with a younger population leaving the province for work will only put more houses up for sale with fewer people looking to buy them, he said. 

He said the CMHC is already hearing about older people in St. John's who want to move into a smaller place — a condo or an apartment — but can't sell their homes in the sluggish market.

"I think that's a story that exists provincewide," he said. "But again, it's difficult to measure — and at this point it's purely anecdotal — but I think it's real and it's relevant."

If you have to sell… 

For those who have no choice but to put their houses up for sale in the next while, Turner has a few tips.

The houses that are doing well are move-in ready, he said. So putting the extra work and money in for repairs and a paint job can go a long way, he said.

Have to sell? Turner says newer, move-in ready homes are doing the best in this market. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Overpriced houses aren't going anywhere. Turner recommends being sure your house is priced currently, at market value.

And new houses are selling faster than fixer-uppers, he said.

But if you can hold on and wait it out, he recommends you do it.

"If you don't have to sell, maybe now is not the time."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Newfoundland Morning

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