James Craig is quite happy to call November a “normal” month for home sales in Kitchener and Waterloo.
Gone are the frenzied conditions of months past that sent many buyers into overheated bidding wars and sidelined others completely. But neither has the market strayed as far the other way as in the Toronto area, where average November prices dropped two per cent compared to a year ago.
Here, it’s not too hot, not too cold.
“It’s at a more sustainable pace than what we have seen in the past,” said Craig, president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors.
Agents sold 425 homes last month, down 20.1 per cent from the 532 residential properties that changed hands in a record-breaking November last year. But that’s right in line with the five-year November average of 424 homes.
And prices remain strong, with the average sale price increasing eight per cent to $445,363 last month compared to a year earlier. That average price is down slightly from an October average of $454,398.
Detached homes sold for an average of $515,721, up 8.9 per cent compared to November, 2016. But average prices in other categories rose considerably year-over-year — apartment-style condominiums shot up by more than 30 per cent to $277,660, townhomes rose 19.3 per cent to $369,678 and semis rose 15.1 per cent to $376,677.
To Craig, that’s indicative “there’s still strong demand in that first-time homebuyer side of things.”
Stricter qualifications for uninsured mortgages that come into effect next month could boost December sales as well, but Craig said that still remains to be seen.
The median price of all residential properties sold last month was $415,000, up 9.7 per cent from a year earlier. The median price for detached homes increased 12.1 per cent to $476,500.
Real estate counterparts in Cambridge described the market as more balanced. There, the Cambridge Association of Realtors recorded 155 home sales last month, an increase of 9.9 per cent from a year earlier.
Of those, 113 were single-family detached units, a drop of 1.7 per cent for that category from the year before.
The average sale price in the Cambridge area decreased 0.2 per cent year-over-year to $440,749. The average sale price for detached homes increased 1.6 per cent year-over-year to $478,089.
Inventories are increasing in Kitchener and Waterloo, with 601 new residential listings last month, 22.6 per cent more than in November 2016. There were 740 active listings at the end of the month — 50 per cent more than a year earlier, but still far below the previous five-year November average of 1,318 listings.
Craig also noted a sharp increase in the number of residential properties leased through his association — 42 last month, an increase of 83 per cent compared to a year earlier.
It’s a sign more people may be looking to hold onto a second property as a source of income, and reflects a desire for people to live in a nicer home than they may be able to afford to purchase right now, he said.