You would think that with the January we just had, complete with bone-chilling temperatures, mountains of snow, and treacherous roads, that most right minded people would stay safely cocooned in their homes, taking shelter from the elements, and waiting for some sign of a break in the frigid weather before venturing forth and thinking about real estate. According to the Quinte and District Association of REALTORS®, (“the Quinte Board”) however, that does not appear to be the case in Prince Edward County (“the County”). Rather, despite the fact that the County was particularly buffeted by winter storms, and a Polar Vortex that would not quit, the property was listed and sold in impressive numbers, highlighting once again what a robust market the County is, and how well positioned it is moving into 2019 to sustain steady and stable growth.


Specifically, 34 properties sold in January across the wards that comprise the County. That is just shy of 80% more sales that occurred last year when only 19 properties changed hands in January. Sales did not appear to be restricted to any one demographic or price group but rather reflected the diversity of both the market as well as buyers interested in investing in the County. This appears to be consistent with market trends and forecasts which give secondary markets the edge in performance for 2019 given their comparative affordability advantage (compounded by the challenge of higher debt loads, interest rates and the stress test), and the fact buyers are able to be more creative inflexible in their chosen domiciles be they primary, recreational or something in between with the advent of technology and more flexible working and living arrangements.



Due in part to a somewhat calmer market overall, inventory is up with 395 properties available for sale at month’s end compared to only 243 one year ago, but the number of new listings was down by almost 20% with 87 properties coming onto the market compared with 108 in January 2018. Accordingly, at this pace, it is likely that the market will tighten up even further unless there is a sudden increase in the number of properties coming onto the market.


Prices year over year, given the particular cross-section of sales recorded for January came in virtually on par with last year’s numbers, just under $400,000 ($397,734) compared to just over that threshold last year when it was recorded at $405,711, marking a negligible decline of under 2%. Interestingly, and consistent with these figures, the median price for properties selling in January in the County came in identical to last year with both being calculated at $365,000.


Potentially with a few more properties on the market and a slightly less frenetic pace which gave buyers more of a chance to consider their options and arrange for acceptable financing where appropriate, or potentially for no other reason than it was harder to get to properties while hurdling snow banks or contending with the bitter cold, the properties that did sell took on average 10% longer to sell, enduring 86 days on the market over the holiday and afterwards, as compared to 78 days on average the year previous.


Generally speaking, commentators are calling for a calmer, steadier year with consistent but more rational activity now that both buyers and sellers have had the opportunity to adjust to conditions that are less frantic than the roller coaster they have been riding over the last couple of years. The dominant challenge for the real estate market will continue to be affordability with buyers struggling with the challenge of balancing debt with higher carrying costs due to increasing interest rates and the effects of the stress test. As mentioned, however, the County is well placed to take advantage of steady demand and the desirable profile that it continues to enjoy, and the fact that the spotlight for 2019 continues to focus on secondary real estate markets as the top performers to watch.


Prepared By:
Richard Stewart, Vice President & Legal Counsel

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