Despite everything that happened in 2020, the Canadian real estate market had a stellar year. The Canadian economy suffered the deepest, but also the shortest recession on record. The coronavirus pandemic crippled the country, forcing two million people out of work; in response the federal and provincial governments employed extraordinary measures to weather the storm. But Canada’s housing market survived and thrived, thanks in part to the cottage country boom. A number of rural, cottage country destinations in Ontario experienced double digit growth last year as more households ditched the big cities and embraced small town life. The community of Huron Perth was no exception to this trend.

Located in the province’s southwest region along the shores of Lake Huron, Huron Perth is a vibrant community that blends urban amenities with rural charm. It has become an attractive destination for any household that is considering a change of scenery during these uncertain times.

So, how has the Huron Perth real estate market fared more recently? Let’s take a look at the latest numbers.

A Peek Inside the Booming Huron Perth Real Estate Market

It was a photo finish in December for the Huron Perth housing market. After an incredible annual double-digit growth rate, the region finished the year with a record-setting bang.

According to Huron Perth Association of REALTORS®, residential sales increased 12 per cent in December from the same time a year ago. The last time home sales hit this level in the month of December was in 2015. Overall, home sales advanced at an annualized rate of 11.3 per cent.

Real estate prices also ballooned, with the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark price soaring 20.8 per cent year-over-year to $419,400. The benchmark price for single-family homes surged 21.3 per cent to $420,700, while the benchmark apartment price slipped 4.2 per cent to $383,500.

Last month, new residential listings fell 14.1 per cent, and active residential listings plummeted 63.9 per cent. The last time the number of active listings were this low was three decades ago. Moreover, months of inventory – the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the present rate of sales activity – was 0.9, well below the long-run average of 6.6 months for this time of the year.

“2020 was a banner year for real estate in our region,” said Kathy Dawson, President of the Huron Perth Association of REALTORS®, in a statement. “The strength of demand combined with dwindling active listings continue to be a concern moving into 2021. Having said that, I think it is safe to say that when the pandemic started back in the spring, very few people would have agreed that this year would turn out to be the best year our region has ever recorded, yet here we are.”

Dawson later added in an interview with The Beacon Herald that the second wave of the pandemic has created “a lot of different aspects,” making it harder to buy a house in this type of market.

This has been an incredible turnaround for Huron Perth. At the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the real estate market faced a substantial correction. In March, home sales stagnated, and then transactions plummeted 69 per cent in April. By May, the region was in a state of recovery. A month later, the Huron Perth real estate market skyrocketed, with no looking back.

Second Wave of COVID-19

Ontario returned to lockdown as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic threatened to paralyze the province’s healthcare system. With thousands of new infections reported daily, Queen’s Park largely emulated its response from March 2020. A state of emergency declaration and a stay-at-home order were issued by the provincial government. Could this have an impact on Huron Perth and the broader real estate market? It is challenging to forecast, but the industry has become remarkably resilient over the past 10 months with agents country-wide pivoting to the use of digital tools and apps to allow transactions to take place safely and seamlessly, in adherence with public health guidelines. Many of the lessons learned from the first wave will transfer over to the second, and if the outcomes are consistent, then the national real estate market should again successfully endure (and overcome) the sting of another outbreak.

A Repeat Performance in 2021?

Shaun Cathcart, the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) senior economist, wrote in a recent report that the nation’s housing market in 2020 was a story of “weakness because of COVID” and “strength despite COVID.” With the nation entrenched in a second wave, could the sector enjoy a repeat performance in 2021? As the country starts rolling out vaccinations and the economy recovers, 2021 could be even better for many real estate markets.

Mortgage rates are anticipated to remain low. Immigration and population growth could start to normalize in the second half of the year. Economists expect a high-paying-job recovery. These are all ingredients for a cocktail of growth in the broader real estate industry.

But what about Huron Perth? This is tough to gauge. In a recent research note, BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic warned that rural properties might plateau toward the end of the year or heading into 2022 mainly because life could return to normal by September. Until then, Huron Perth is a seller’s market as families continue to relocate out of the urban centres to escape hyper-dense locations and get a better bang for their loonies.