6 Surprising Realities About the Sudbury Real Estate Market Right Now
Think back. Way, way, back to March, when we were all just learning about COVID...
I remember staying up late every night watching every news story we could find about COVID-19; scrolling twitter and facebook for every new update about the virus. Every day seemed like a new round of stay home orders, and lots of predictions about how the economy would weather a pandemic. Back then, there was reasonable concern that the real estate market would crash. The uncertainty made it difficult to even imagine what would happen in the coming months if you were looking to buy or sell a home.
I had just opened my own brokerage 15 months prior; this had been a long term goal and dream of mine and now I was facing the reality that businesses all around me were unsafe to be open, we were right at the start of a global pandemic with initial projections that half the Canadian population could be affected; and we actually had to tell our clients that unless they needed to sell; they should take their house off the market to do their part to #stopthespread.
Fast forward to now. No, there hasn’t been a 2008-level crash. In fact, the real estate market until the last few weeks has been the strongest and busiest we have ever seen the market in Sudbury. Yet, there are some very big (and surprising) trends going on in our “new normal.” Here are my top six:
ONE | Inventory is still very low
The pandemic basically cut off the spring market before it could really get underway. Few wanted to open their homes to prospective buyers — though the rise of virtual tours made it possible to have the most socially distant open house ever. Still, with the uncertainty of the job market, ever-changing hot spots, and the difficulty of doing all the normal stuff to prep for a sale (decluttering, staging) during stay-at-home orders, only the most motivated sellers listed. We actually told sellers that unless they were extra-motivated it was a better idea to pull their house off the market for the time being. 50% of the homes (which was already a small number compared to past years) were taken off the market, making for a historically low supply.
TWO | Interest rates remain low
One of the first big headlines of the pandemic, when it came to real estate, was when interest rates were slashed big time. Of course, many took advantage by refinancing their home. As months passed, though, the continued low-interest rates motivated prospective buyers to enter the market and enjoy the savings. The government and the Canadian Banking system are doing everything they can to stimulate the economy, what that means (my personal prediction) is that rates will stay at an all-time low for the next 2 years +.
THREE | There’s a lot of competition if you’re a buyer
It’s not just locals in your market. The shift to remote work means that many people can move to an area they love, not one that is convenient for a commute. Often, these are high wage earners who can afford to submit an offer above asking price — especially if they sold their home at the right time or in a pricey market. We have seen a shift in the last few weeks but overall there is still a massive amount of demand for the homes on the market. It is easy to point to a shift in lifestyle for people working in dense-cities like Toronto; people who were cooped up in a concrete box for months during the pandemic would love to escape to the North; to a city that prides itself on the outdoor lifestyle and 300+ lakes. This combined with the shift a lot of businesses have taken to encourage people to work remotely are all reasons that make Sudbury attractive for buyers that weren't previously considering living here.
FOUR | Homes are selling very, very quickly
When there are fewer listings and plenty of buyers, your dream home may be a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it opportunity.
For buyers, this means that you should be preapproved (not just prequalified) in order to get your offer considered. For sellers, you may have a little more leeway on things like condition and contingencies. This again has shifted in the last few weeks towards more days-on-market (one of the criteria we use to evaluate how quickly listings are selling); but still in Sudbury we are seeing most listings selling in days instead of previously weeks or months.
FIVE | Prices have climbed
All of the above factors have pushed prices higher in Sudbury. 2019 saw our biggest jump in average price of a house in years (we jumped roughly 30k or 10% for all of 2019). At the half way point of 2020 (End of June), we had already jumped another 10% or additional 35k in our average price point. This is historic growth for a city like Sudbury that has seen little growth in our average sale price over the last decade before 2019. This led to my big bold prediction that we may see a 400k average price of a home by the end of 2021.
SIX | Folks are leaving big cities
While most cities are experiencing the same issues of low inventory as sellers hesitate to put their homes on the market, there’s one huge exception: big cities. Part of the reason is due to the big companies ordering employees to work remotely during the pandemic (and perhaps indefinitely). The other contributing factor is that prices tend to be extremely high — so if you don’t have to pay the premium to live close to your workplace, why not live somewhere else? In addition, there's a very high population density, which isn’t the best thing to have in a time of social distancing. We commented on this point earlier as well, but a lot of these companies are reflecting on the last 6 moths of operations and realizing that things are going well, they are shifting their business models to encourage people working remotely or permanently from home; I was speaking to friends with Vale, one of our bigger employers in Sudbury recently and they confirmed that they are seeing this shift as well.