The COVID-19 public health crisis has altered consumer trends and home-buying patterns. From social distancing to Zoom teleconferencing, more people are working from home and performing their daily duties from the comfort of their kitchen or dining room. This has allowed a lot of homebuyers to vacate the big cities and re-plant their roots within rural and suburban communities. Based on the numbers, it looks like many of these home seekers are looking to the Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick real estate markets.
Despite the economic challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many major urban centres are witnessing record-breaking growth, whether it is in sales activity or prices. If too many Canadians were priced out of these cities before the outbreak, their dreams of living in the downtown core of Toronto and Vancouver are becoming even harder to realize. These trends have facilitated tremendous growth in Atlantic Canada real estate.
Atlantic Canada housing markets have witnesses record-breaking activity since the height of the pandemic. Below, we take a closer look at just how well New Brunswick’s hottest housing markets have fared over the course of this unprecedented public health crisis.
New Brunswick Real Estate: Hot Markets, Province-wide
Fredericton was one of the many Atlantic Canada markets to endure the “pandemic pause,” but the city has since recuperated and now it is on track to close out 2020 with strong numbers that are projected to boost the local market into next year.
According to the Real Estate Board of the Fredericton Area, residential sales surged a record high 34.4 per cent in September 2020 compared to the same time last year. The average price of homes sold in September climbed an impressive 22.6 per cent year-over-year, to $210,015.
Although 312 new residential listings were added to the housing market in September, overall inventory continues to decline to its lowest level in 17 years. Active residential listings were down more than 40 per cent compared to the end of September 2019.
The RE/MAX Fall Market Outlook Report forecasts that Fredericton home prices will maintain their current values, rising 2.5 per cent to finish 2020. However, as a direct result of dwindling supply and pent-up demand, Fredericton is witnessing a new trend that has largely been confined to Canada’s largest real estate markets, such as Toronto and Vancouver: bidding wars.
Like Fredericton, Saint John is another city in the New Brunswick real estate market to enjoy record-setting activity, particularly in the second half of 2020.
According to the Saint John Real Estate Board, residential sales advanced by 27.1 per cent year-over-year, setting a new sales record for the month of September. The average price of homes sold in September increased by 14 per cent from a year ago to a record-breaking $205,247.
Despite 320 new residential listings, active listings fell 38.1 per cent at the end of September 2020. Overall supply levels are trending downward, standing at 12-year lows.
“Our local real estate market has continued to outperform expectations in September,” said Corey Breau, President of the Saint John Real Estate Board and broker at RE/MAX Professionals Saint John. “New listings also posted strong gains this past month but are struggling to stay ahead of the brisk pace of sales. Much like other parts of New Brunswick, Saint John’s usually busy fall market is experiencing significantly increased demand. When you combine that with the lowest inventory numbers that we have seen in over a decade, it creates sustained upward pressure on prices.”
While Saint John was not immune to the coronavirus-induced drop in housing activity earlier this year, the market has recovered. The RE/MAX Fall Market Outlook Report suggests that sales and prices will continue to be strong in the final quarter of 2020. Due to a lack of inventory, the high cost of building materials, and pent-up demand, Saint John prices are expected to surge seven per cent through the remainder of 2020.
The Broader New Brunswick Real Estate Market
CBC News recently reported that many New Brunswick households are better off financially than before the pandemic. Why? Federal COVID-19 relief spending in New Brunswick increased household incomes in the province to all-time highs, despite the economy slumping and thousands of people losing their jobs. When more consumers have money, a renewed confidence trickles down through the entire market, including real estate.
With demand outpacing supply in markets across the province, the competition for New Brunswick homes is ballooning, particularly with more real estate agents enabling the facilitation of online transactions. Remote markets are more accessible than ever before, and accordingly, people are snatching up New Brunswick real estate from across the country. In many cases, purchases are being made without the buyers even seeing the house in person.
The New Brunswick economy is on the rebound, thanks to successful containment of the coronavirus and interest rates at historical lows. For now, the province is enjoying stable growth, and the strong activity within its largest real estate markets will not only contribute to New Brunswick’s economic rebound, but also a possible population spike!