KITCHENER -- The housing market in Kitchener-Waterloo is picking up momentum after a dramatic decline in sales due to COVID-19.

There were 419 homes sold through the Multiple Listing System (MLS) across both cities in May, according to the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors (KWAR).

While that number was at least 40 percent less than the same month a year earlier, it was an 80 percent increase compared to April of this year.

“Real estate was included as an essential service in Ontario from the outset of the COVID-19 shutdown, and realtors have stepped up to ensure those who need to list or buy can do so safely,” said Colleen Koehler, president of KWAR in a news release.

The association says that, although sales were down from last year, home prices continued on an upward trend.

The average sale price of all residential properties sold in May increased 6.5 per cent to $568,275 compared to the same month last year.

“For the homebuyers who cannot wait out the pandemic, they are not finding any fire sales as homes are not only maintaining their value, but also increasing,” says Koehler.

With many potential sellers nervous to put their home on the market during the pandemic, the association says there were also far fewer houses on the market for buyers to choose from.

There were 577 new listings added to the MLS system in KW and area last month, which is almost 50 per cent fewer compared to May 2019.