The more balanced and stable market of which we spoke in our last report appears to be the persistent trend in Prince Edward County (‘the County’) as we move into fall and the harvest season. This is undoubtedly one of the nicest times to be in the County. Generally speaking, after a long spell where properties have been in frustratingly short supply, inventory continues to loosen up, with a growing number of available properties on the market. Notwithstanding that, demand remains strong, with a steady stream of sales being racked up. But, Sellers appear to be hanging tough on price, as real estate is not getting any cheaper in the County. Committed Buyers, therefore, are finding that they have to shoot fairly close to the Sellers’ target price to seal the deal on their properties of choice.
According to the statistics made available by the Quinte & District Association of REALTORS® Inc. (“the Quinte Board”) through its Matrix data platform, the number of properties that came onto the market in August was up 25% year over year with 115 new listings compared to 92 for the same month last year. That brings year to date numbers up to a current total of 972 new listings, which is 51 or 5.5% more than this time last year when 921 new listings had been logged.
As indicated sales were fairly steady, with only a minor downturn to 59 properties changing hands compared to 66 last August, constituting a negative differential of less than 11%. Year to date sales remains down approximately 22% with 379 sales thus far, compared to 487 at this point in 2017.
These developments combined to contribute to a 36% increase in inventory by month’s end, with 549 properties available for sale compared to 403 properties at this time last year.
Interestingly, those properties that are selling, are finding buyers at a faster pace than last year, with the average days on market in August coming in at a reasonably brisk 50 days, almost 14% faster than last year when the average time taken for a sale was 58. Accordingly, it is reasonable to conclude that when a choice property reflecting value does come onto the market it will find enthusiastic takers in fairly short order. This is further confirmation that demand in the area remains strong, underpinned by a healthy stable of ready and able buyers, despite the increasingly rich purchase price.
While property prices in the County remain comparatively affordable, the persistent upward pressure on prices has shown little sign of easing up, and by all accounts is unlikely to do so any time soon. In August the average sale price came in at $441,177 which is over 13% higher than it was last year at this time when it was recorded as being $389,538.
That mixed with tighter financing conditions, including the burden imposed by the new stress test makes it harder for buyers to stretch for properties, and potentially prompts them to pause and consider issues such as value and suitability with greater scrutiny. These sorts of influences inevitably prompt a greater sense of calm and measure to the market, but as indicated, generally speaking, properties in the County tend to stack up pretty well when considering factors such as value and affordability when compared to other markets.
As for the outlook for the rest of the year, the economy continues to perform at an impressive level despite ongoing uncertainty on the trade negotiations front. All in all, job production has been impressive, and economic output has been such that even in the face of some of the current political challenges, the Bank of Canada is still pondering further interest rate hikes before year-end to curb inflationary pressures. Barring unforeseen disruptive events, therefore, indicators generally continue to point to bullish conditions for the County real estate market as we move into fall and winter.
Richard Stewart Vice President & Legal Counsel