Source – saltwire.com
– “…With house hunting on the rise in Atlantic Canada, Elsinga is noticing an increased demand for starter homes. She’s witnessing an influx of buyers from elsewhere in Canada, but primarily from Alberta and Ontario, in addition to international buyers from Brazil, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates…People are looking for anything affordable: large building lots; smaller acreages; and of course, the elusive hobby farm”
COVID-19 era creating hot real estate market, sellers focusing on renos, staging – By Ayah Victoria McKhail (Published: Aug 18, 2020)
Atlantic Canada’s real estate market is heating up.
Given the lockdown measures that were implemented in mid-March, spring was uncharacteristically quiet. Yet with the easing of restrictions, it’s been on an upward trajectory.
As Costa Poulopoulos, chairman of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), states in a recent summary, “Realtors across Canada are increasingly seeing business pick back up.”
Statistics from CREA reflect this reality: home sales recorded over Canadian MLS Systems in June 2020 rebounded by a further 63 per cent, returning them to normal levels for the month – some 150 per cent above where they were in April. Additionally, the number of newly-listed homes climbed by another 49.5 per cent in June compared to May. As with sales activity, gains were recorded across the country.
We are in a very hot sellers’ market
The outlook is very promising, according to Yasser Khalaf, a Bedford, N.S.-based realtor with RE/MAX nova, who serves the Dartmouth, Halifax and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) areas.
“The real estate market has been very active. Compared to the number of sales at this time last year, there has been a five to six per cent decrease, but this dip can be attributed to low inventory levels. The demand for homes is up, and prices have gone up ten per cent.”
Katherine Elsinga, a Grahams Road, P.E.I.-based real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Parker Realty, has noticed a similar trend.
“We are in a very hot sellers’ market. There are a lot of buyers and not nearly as many properties for sale,” she states, adding she covers the Island from one end to another.
“Recently, I did something I had never done before: I went out and got the listing paperwork all done up for a house; went home that evening; made one phone call, and got it sold the next day. I handed in the sales paperwork before the listing paperwork,” she says incredulously.
Many of my listings sold within a couple of days
Conor Stack, a St. John’s, NL-based realtor with Royal LePage Property Consultants and lawyer, can relate.
“The real estate market through late spring and early summer was extremely active. Many of my listings sold within a couple of days and received multiple bids at or above the listing price.”
According to Stack, in addition to buyers needing or wanting new homes, whether due to changing family or economic circumstances, life under lockdown has led to a new category of buyers.
“Additional buyers were created by people spending more time in their homes, including working from home, and realizing that properties with more functional indoor and outdoor spaces may be worth the investment now rather than later.”
With COVID-19-related jitters factoring into the equation, he notes pricing has been a major consideration as well.
“Listing prices appeared a bit more realistic and competitive – perhaps due to vendors’ desires to sell quickly, or due to long-term economic anxieties.”
With house hunting on the rise in Atlantic Canada, Elsinga is noticing an increased demand for starter homes. She’s witnessing an influx of buyers from elsewhere in Canada, but primarily from Alberta and Ontario, in addition to international buyers from Brazil, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates.
“People are looking for anything affordable: large building lots; smaller acreages; and of course, the elusive hobby farm. There’s a real need for homes under $200,000. I believe a lot of people are starting to look at ‘winterizing’ cottages on seasonal and private roads, so they can actually have an affordable place to live,” she says, mentioning buyers are eager to snap up a variety of dwellings, such as a log house she’s currently showing in North Granville, PEI.
Khalaf is noticing a diverse demographic of buyers searching for properties as well.
“My clients range from young professionals, to couples, families, and international buyers, such as from India, China, and the Middle East. Detached and semi-detached houses are doing well, but because the demand is so high, new buyers are steadily gravitating toward new constructions.”
As for Stack, who primarily serves the greater St. John’s area, his clients range from first-time home buyers to young families looking for their ‘forever’ homes, and empty-nesters looking for a bungalow with a garage and few stairs. He notes there’s a strong demand for approximately 2,000-square-foot homes in the Churchill Square neighbourhood of St. John’s, which are coveted by young families.
If you’re thinking of selling your home, renovations are likely something you’ve considered. Typically, homeowners direct their focus on kitchens and bathrooms in order to get their homes market-ready. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, you can expect to recover anywhere from 75 to 100 per cent of your investment.
“It’s beneficial to have an updated kitchen or bathroom, as such renovations can further increase the value of your home,” Khalaf says.
Elsinga stresses such undertakings really depend on the individual homeowner and their current situation.
“There are a lot of different factors that go into this, such as time, money and capability. It also depends on if I perceive the issue to be serious or cosmetic, but we price the house accordingly.”
Agreeing renovating kitchens and bathrooms are generally good places to see a return on investment, but acknowledging the investment is much higher, Stack emphasizes the importance of having a conversation about any potential renovations before listing your home.
“I caution my clients if they’re going to redo their kitchens or bathrooms before listing, to please do them well. The risk being if you do inexpensive upgrades, buyers may still want to tear them out, and they’ll see no value in the money you’ve spent. Ultimately, it depends on the property and the clients’ willingness to commit to redoing those rooms properly.”
Stack encourages his clients to consider investing in low-cost solutions, like fresh paint, and having their homes professionally-staged. He’s worked with Sasha Hutton and Sam Follett from the Newfoundland Staging Co. for that purpose.
Studies have demonstrated that home staging is an effective and expeditious way to sell your home for the best possible price. As Follett points out, “No matter what your listing price or square footage is, you need to properly prepare your home for the market.”
The designing duo is keen on elevating the appeal of the homes they take charge of. For their ‘occupied’ home staging consultations, they’ll walk through the properties and make suggestions regarding furniture placement, de-cluttering, and paint, whereas for the ‘unoccupied’ ones, they stress the importance of staging.
“Most people can’t visualize themselves in an empty house. They find it difficult to picture where their furniture would go; whether or not it would fit; what the layout would be like; and how it would look. Staging provides a scale for the space,” explains Follett, adding they also hang art on the walls; place rugs on the floors; décor on the tables; dress the beds; and layer the furniture with throws and cushions.
In terms of a design aesthetic that’s gaining widespread appeal, it’s clean and contemporary.
“We’re seeing a lot of white walls, white kitchens, and black finishes,” says Follett. “When you decide to sell something, you want to show it at its best; there’s no exception when it comes to selling your house. We help you prepare your home for the market, so that it reflects its full potential.
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