Home-buying activity in Miramichi and Miramichi Rural continues to gain strength heading into the traditional spring market, with first-quarter sales showing double- and triple-digit gains over year-ago levels. Looking ahead, 2019 home sales and prices are expected to rise.
Overall, Atlantic Canada is poised for strong housing market performance in 2019 as economic performance ramps up, unemployment rates decline, and first-time buyer incentives at both provincial and federal government levels take hold, according to the RE/MAX 2019 Atlantic Canada Housing Market Report.
The report found strong momentum in the larger urban centres, as well as spillover into several smaller markets. Home sales are on par or up in just under half the markets surveyed (7/15), likely due to the current shortage of inventory, while housing values have climbed in almost three-quarters (11/15) of the Atlantic Canadian markets surveyed.
Home sales more than doubled in Miramichi Rural, where 34 properties changed hands in Q1 2019, compared to just 16 during the same period in 2018. Average price has climbed in tandem, rising eight per cent to $86,010 in Q1 2019, up from $79,356 one year earlier. Forty-one homes were sold in Miramichi between January 1 and March 31 of this year, up from 37 during the same period in 2018, marking an increase of almost 11 per cent. Values in Miramichi have softened year-over-year, with average price now hovering at $111,625.
Federal government efforts to boost economic growth and job creation have been a major factor in housing performance in Miramichi and Miramichi Rural. The opening of the $95-million Pay Centre in Miramichi, and the creation of approximately 800+ public service jobs, has bolstered home-buying activity throughout the area. Balanced market conditions currently exist, but supply has been declining at certain price points. Limited inventory is available at the $120,000 to $200,000 price point, fueling upward pressure on prices. First-time buyers with roots in the community are also active, with many seeking homes priced under $120,000. With rental vacancy rates at almost zero, and a shortage of high-end rentals available, the value of home ownership takes on new perspectives.
Out-of-province retirees continue to be a factor in the market, with downsizing buyers coming in from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The end of the oil boom in Alberta has New Brunswick residents returning to the province as well, with many choosing to settle in Miramichi and Miramichi Rural where their dollar goes further. The top end of the market has benefitted from the influx, with the ceiling now rising to $250,000 from $180,000 one year ago.
Strong home-buying is expected for the remainder of the year in Miramichi and Miramichi Rural, with sales rising an estimated seven per cent over 2018 levels. Housing values are also set to climb, appreciating at least two per cent by year-end 2019.