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Blog Entries in Market Overview

We talked last month about the fact that the market was changing. There were fewer buyers actively looking. Multiple offers were down. In some cases where sellers were delaying presentation for a few days in hopes of generating a ‘bidding war’, where once they might see 12-15 competing offers, now there might be 2 or 3 and in some cases none at all. Well, that trend is continuing through April and into May. If we look at the unit sales reported throughout Niagara, we see there were 758 sales in April. That is down 133 units or 14.93% from March. But what is more significant perhaps is that it is also down 375 units or 33.10% from April 2021. There are simply fewer buyers active in the marketplace.

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Back in the early fall of 2021 after an incredible run up in prices over the first 8 or 9 months of the year, the average sale price for St. Catharines sat at $663,810 (end of September). We couldn’t help but wonder if after gaining $106,556 or 19.12% from the beginning of the year, if the average price could possibly cross the $700,000 threshold by year-end. It didn’t. Average price in St. Catharines ended the year 2021 at $670,075. Still a yearly increase of 20.25% but not quite $700,000. Who would have thought that just 2 months later, February 2022 the average price in St. Catharines would have crossed not only the $700,000 mark but the $800,000 as well, ending at $801,413.

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It looks like the pundits were wrong! At least the data coming in from the first month of 2022 it would appear that way. From the vantage point of 2021, the forecasters were anticipating a slight moderation in the acceleration of house prices over 2022, coming in at around the 8%-10% range. Still a very healthy return on one’s investment but not the 20%-30% increases we’ve seen in 2020 and 2021. But look at what has happened.

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Last month, you may recall, we saw a slight dip in the average sale price across the region, down in November to $745,970 from the $753,060 figure in October. A drop of less than 1%, but a drop nonetheless. And, in fact, that drop was reflected in every one of the municipalities we track across Niagara, with the exception of Welland. That drop we felt was not an indication of any sort of downward trend. Monthly fluctuations are often the norm even in an accelerating market. And, in fact, now that the December figures are in, we see the average price across the region has bounced back up to $752,221, pretty much where it was in October.

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In order to get a somewhat clear understanding of the real estate market today, where it’s at and where it’s going, there are three measuring sticks I’d like to use. The number of units sold over the past month. The average sale price of homes across the region. And the total number of new listings registered in September. By assessing each of those numbers and then comparing them to past months and even past years, we should be in a position to spot trends and perhaps from that extrapolate where things are headed.

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There is a lot going on right now. The COVID-19 Pandemic, which has been front and centre in the news and in all our lives for over a year and a half now, just won’t go away. New infection numbers are on the rise, alarmingly so when you consider the number of people who have been vaccinated. And this spike in infections holds true across the country and around the globe, giving rise to talk about a fourth wave and a possible renewed lockdown.

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