WATERLOO REGION — What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time, local real estate sales were just beginning to show signs of a cool-down after months of bidding frenzies, overinflated prices and a general feeling of panic on the part of many desperate buyers.
The six-month period ending in June, 2017 saw residential sales volume in the Kitchener and Waterloo area top 3,800 transactions with the average price hitting $482,433 — a jump of more than $100,000 in just a year’s time.
Buyers and sellers have since had some time to catch their breath, with a new financial stress test keeping some people out of the market or looking at more affordable options. And it’s reflected in sales stats from the first six months of this year.
“It’s healthier, more stable, and more enjoyable for homebuyers,” said Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors president Tony Schmidt. “It’s not such a roller-coaster ride.”
The association’s sales dropped about 19 per cent in the first six months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, with 3,096 sales, compared to 3,829 in the first half of 2017. The average price for all residential properties sold from January to June actually dropped slightly to $481,778 — the first time in at least 10 years that’s happened. The median price over those six months rose slightly by $4,000 to $445,000.
“It’s because we’re doing a higher volume of the smaller-type units,” Schmidt said. “We do see the biggest surge in the condominium units.” Intensification has helped to put more of that stock on the shelf, too, he said.
On a month-to-month basis, sales of condominium units rose 6.3 per cent in June compared to last year. All other categories — detached homes, semis and freehold townhouses — experienced double-digit sales declines. The average price for apartment-style condos rose to $314,180 in June, a jump of 13.2 per cent from the previous year. In comparison, detached homes rose seven per cent to an average of $575,003.
Total residential sales declined 15.6 per cent in June over June, 2017, with 604 transactions this year and 716 last year. Sales are slowing heading into the traditionally quieter summer months; they were down 12.8 per cent compared to May.
Prices aren’t climbing nearly as quickly, either. June’s average residential price saw a 5.2 per cent increase from last year, to $489,584, with the median price rising $25,000 to $450,000.
Looking back, Schmidt thinks the region was traditionally a little undervalued, an appeal that fuelled the two-year market frenzy. “We were almost too much of a well-kept secret,” he said. “I think we were too good of a deal for a while.”