The County is on fire! And that’s not restricted to the glorious display of colour from the fall leaves or the pumpkin fields. Rather, the strengthening trend in real estate activity which has been building into the fall market appears to have taken off. In short monthly sales are outpacing those of last year, particularly at the higher end; listings are in short supply; inventory is down; and the resulting tighter market is pushing average sale prices up significantly.
Whether it is cause or effect, it is remarkable to notice the tremendous surge in interest in, and attention that is being paid to Prince Edward County (‘the County”) in the press and social media, highlighting all that the area has to offer and confirming that it is one of the “it” destinations of the province.
 
As indicated in earlier reports, the smaller number of properties represented by the market specific to the County inevitably results in greater statistical swings depending upon the particular composition of properties that changed hands or were listed at any particular time. Accordingly, any interpretation of these statistics must be qualified with this in mind. Having said that, looking back over the market performance year to date, and spread over a longer period of time, a clear upward trajectory in the activity and robustness of the market is evident, and this is further confirmed by the statistics produced by the Quinte & District Association of REALTORS® (“the Quinte Board”) for the broader area covered by Quinte Board, including Belleville, Trenton, Madoc, Brighton, and environs.   
 
The Enhanced Statistical Query Report prepared by the Quinte Board for the County for the month of October shows that 50 properties were sold across the County in October. This is a 6% gain over last October’s figures when 47 properties were reported as sold. Numbers across the entire Quinte Board showed even more impressive gains with 16% more properties changing hands this year than last year during the same month, specifically 280 as compared to 242 one year ago. As indicated above, activity at the high end is particularly pronounced with 5 properties over $1,000,000 recorded as sold within the Quinte Board compared to none during the same period last year, and just below that, 4 were sold between the $750,000 and $1,000,000 range compared to none the year previous. Sizeable positive differentials also show up in the $400,000-$499,999 range with 15 sales compared to 7 the previous October, and 17 sales in the $350,000-$399,999 range compared to 12 in October 2014.
 
Robust sales combined with fewer listings coming out on a month to month basis in the County contribute to a noticeably tighter market.  October had only 71 new listings as compared to 90 in October 2014, a decline of 21%. Year to date figures show a negative differential of 13% fewer listings coming out in the County (only 1301 compared to 1432 last year at this time). The result being that when the numbers were released, they showed that inventory was down substantially with 13% fewer active listings on the market, only 543 compared to 623 last year at this time.
 
Not surprisingly, the combined effect of all of these factors including increased activity at the higher end is that average sale prices have gone up significantly. The numbers for October are startling. The average sale price of properties sold in the County in the month of October was $387,670. This represents a 54% surge in price compared to last October’s average sale price which was calculated at $251,386. As indicated, these statistics are somewhat exaggerated by the smaller sampling of properties that constitute the County market, but they reflect stronger demand that is consistent with the increased attention, perception of value, and desirability associated with County properties.   
 
Affordability challenges, the risk of overheated markets, or overvalued properties paired with resultant debt loads are all issues being bandied about in the press regarding segments of the Canadian real estate market, particularly specific urban ones, including Toronto. The jury is out as to the applicability of some or all of these, and the implications of each, however, it would seem that none are applicable to the real estate market of the County which, despite its proximity to a variety of urban markets including Ottawa, Kingston, Montreal and Toronto, continues to be distinguished by its remarkable comparative value, the beauty of its landscape, and its diverse cross-section of amenities and attractive attributes. The fact that it has captured broader public attention, and is now a touted and talked about &ldquo to” destination does not detract from any of this, it simply means increased interest and potentially greater competition for the quality properties listed. With that in mind as well as the scarce supply of listings the environment is ripe for those contemplating listing their properties for sale. Conversely, a relatively stable outlook for both the domestic economy and a continuation of historically low interest rates provides further basis for investment in this burgeoning area. 
 

Prepared by: Richard Stewart Vice President & Legal Counsel 

 

(Image provided by http://www.drakedevonshire.ca/)

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