Photo: marc falardeau/Flickr
Karlis Bite, who was president of the Cambridge Association of Realtors (CAR) for much of 2016, is spending more time on the road.
The Cambridge realtor has to, he says, to get an edge in Canada’s tightest local housing market, the only market where last month homes sold faster than they were listed, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
“Me and my buyer were basically stalking a house,” recalls Bite of a recent trek. He tells BuzzBuzzNews he’s been motoring around Cambridge with eyes peeled for coming-soon signs, which sellers use to generate interest in properties before listing them for sale online.
At 103.73 per cent, Cambridge — about an hour and a half from Toronto via Highway 401 — boasts Canada’s highest sales-to-new listings ratio, widely considered a gauge of whether a market is balanced, or is in either buyer’s or seller’s territory.
The ratio, expressed as a percentage, is calculated by dividing the number of sales in a given month by the number of listings that appeared on the market during that same period. A ratio between 40 and 60 per cent suggests a balanced market, while anything above indicates a seller’s market.
Last month, the 10 highest ratios (including Cambridge’s) were in Ontario. The others were Guelph and Woodstock-Ingersoll, both with ratios in the low 90s, as well as Northhumberland Hills, Kitchener-Waterloo, Kawartha Lakes, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton Burlington, Niagara Falls-Fort Erie, and Welland, which ranged from the high to low 80s.
Bite largely chalks up the strength of Cambridge’s market, where homes go for an average of $411,743, to soaring home prices in the Greater Toronto Area.
“It’s a perfect storm right now, because GTA buyers are getting absolute top dollars for their homes [and] gas prices are low, so it just makes sense for commuters that might be looking somewhere in the outskirts of the GTA… to look a little bit further down the road and their money goes alot further,” he says.
While one province lays claim to the 10 tightest markets, you’ll find 9 of the 10 lowest sales-to-new listings in a single region, the Prairies, according to CREA.
Thompson, Manitoba, has the country’s lowest ratio of any local market, a rock-bottom 12.5 per cent. BuzzBuzzNews requested comment from reps with RE/MAX Thompson and Lockers Real Estate Brokers, two brokerages in the area, but none were available for comment as of publication.
In October, Thompson overtook the Southeast Saskatchewan region as the market with the lowest ratio. Lynn Chipley, a broker/owner at CENTURY 21 Border Real Estate Service, says low oil prices have dragged down Southeast Saskatchewan housing activity.
“We’re doing about 30 per cent of the business we were doing three years ago,” says Chipley, who is based in Estevan, a city of about 13,000 and the most populous city in the region.
In better times, the Bakken oil play, an oil-rich rock formation touching Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, was a boon for the market, attracting the energy industry and related employment.
While low oil prices have taken a toll for the past three years, there are still some winners in the region. “Lots of first-time house are buying their first house because our house prices are as low as they’ve been in five or six years,” says Chipley.
The average selling price of a home in Estevan over the past 30 days is $283,000, says Chipley, and homes stay on the market for an average of 109 days.