The cool-down in home sales continued last month after two years of record-breaking sales.
The London St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) said there were 536 sales in February, down 32.8 per cent from record-breaking monthly sales in February 2017.
Association president Jeff Nethercott noted February and January sales are in line with long-term monthly averages, and the real bottleneck is not buyers, but a lack of homes on the market.
“The lack of inventory is the story. There’s not the product out there for buyers.”
There were 1,103 listings in February, down 26.4 per cent from the same month last year, Nethercott said.
“This is the lowest level of inventory we’ve had in the region over the last 10 years.”
Nethercott said it’s tough to compare this year with 2017, when sales records were smashed six months in a row, partly due to an influx of Toronto-area buyers.
But he’s hopeful sales will rebound in the spring with better weather and more homes coming on the market.
He doesn’t believe stricter mortgage qualification rules that kicked in Jan. 1 are having much impact on the London market.
“We aren’t seeing an indication yet that this is having a big impact on the purchasing power in our market because it’s such an affordable market.”
Despite the return of home sales to more traditional levels, prices in London and St. Thomas continue to rise, Nethercott said. The average February sales price in the region was $349,848, up 10 per cent over February 2017.
London continues to be a seller’s market, based on the sales-to-new listings ratio, Nethercott said.
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) says a ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is consistent with a balanced housing market. In February, London and St. Thomas had a sales-to-new listings ratio of 69.5 per cent.
Nethercott, who has been active with LSTAR’s government relations committee, took over as LSTAR president Jan. 1. He has been a realtor for 13 years after graduating from university with a business degree.