Signs point to slower growth in region's real estate market
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Thursday, July 13, 2017 5:05PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 13, 2017 6:30PM EDT
To understand what’s happened to Waterloo Region’s housing market lately, it may help to think of it like a balloon.
For years, air was slowly being added to the balloon. The balloon grew, but slowly enough that it wasn’t concerning – or even noticeable in some cases.
Starting about 18 months ago, the balloon started to inflate much faster. It was inflating so fast that it was almost impossible not to notice it.
Some people were concerned that all this new air would be too much, causing the balloon to pop – and who knows what we’d be left with then? Others figured that since the balloon had been able to hold all the air we’d filled it with to that point, it could take on more without any issues.
If the last couple of months are anything to go by, the second group seems to have been a bit closer to the truth. The balloon is still inflating, but it’s falling back to the speed it was inflating at prior to early 2016.
Need proof? Take the numbers released last week by the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors.
They reported that fewer properties were sold in the area in June than in the same year one-month earlier – ending a streak of year-over-year sales volume increases that dated back to October 2015.
While average sale prices remained up significantly year over year, they were even or even slightly lower than sale prices reported during the spring.
Keith Church, the broker of record for Royal LePage Grand Valley Realty in Kitchener, says he’s definitely seeing truth in the idea that Waterloo Region’s residential real estate market has returned to some state of stability.
“It’s settling down and getting more like a normal market over the last couple of months,” he says.
“It had to happen. It couldn’t stay the way it was.”
When the market was at its greatest heights, sellers were often being presented with several offers, all at or above their asking price, within days of their homes hitting the market. Buyers were having to forgo home inspections and other conditions if they wanted to be able to compete on a level playing field.
Like many people in the real estate industry, Church chalked that up to a combination of high demand, driven mainly by people priced out of the even-hotter markets in and around Toronto eyeing Waterloo Region as a consolation prize, and low supply, as prospective sellers held off on listing their properties over fears they wouldn’t be able to find replacements.
Now that activity has slowed down in the Greater Toronto Area, Church says, Waterloo Region is seeing a sort of reverse ripple effect.
People aren’t being priced out of the Toronto market as quickly, which means they’re not as eager to move down Highway 401. Combined with a drastic increase in the number of homes being listed for sale locally, that means things seem to be back to normal – albeit with a bit more air in the balloon than before this all started.
Royal LePage released its quarterly snapshot of the residential real estate market on Thursday. It found that the aggregate price of a home in Waterloo Region had jumped by more than 20 per cent between the second quarter of 2016 and the second quarter of 2017, sitting at $435,367.
Two-storey homes and bungalows were responsible for the lion’s share of those increases, with their aggregate prices hitting $459,562 and $401,631 respectively, while the aggregate price of a condo rose by 15.3 per cent to $269,646.
Across Canada, the aggregate home price rose by 13.8 per cent year over year to $609,144.
With reporting by Brandon Rowe