The PEI real estate market is going through a once-in-a-generation boom, joining the frenzy in the broader Atlantic Canada housing market. After years of people fleeing the east coast and gravitating towards the economic opportunities found in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, the real estate tables have officially turned! Families from across Canada, enjoying the new-found freedom of remote work environments, are planting roots in PEI and its neighbouring provinces.

But, as more homebuyers flood the PEI housing market, the supply has failed to catch up with demand. This has created a troubling situation for young homebuyers who have been saving up a down payment on a residential property.

CBC News spoke with Leon Jesso, a 35-year-old who thought he’d own a home by now. Unfortunately, his plight essentially summarizes the situation for many millennials and Generation Zers in PEI today:

“It is incredibly frustrating. I thought I’d have my own house by the time I was 20. That turned into 25, that turned into 30 and that’s going to turn into 35 this year. I did not expect the housing market to rise so quickly, so fast. My salary is $62,000 a year. My net doesn’t look that good but my gross is enough that I think I should be able to get a home.”

How hot is the PEI real estate market anyway? Let’s take a peek behind the curtain.

How the PEI Real Estate Market Performed in Q1

According to the Prince Edward Island Real Estate Association, residential sales advanced 53.4 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter to 365 units. This turned out to be a new sales record for the month of March.

The province’s real estate market recorded double-digit price growth for single-detached properties. In the January-to-March period, the median sale price ballooned at an annualized rate of 11.5 per cent to $302,000.

Every corner of the PEI real estate market posted significant gains in both sales activity and prices from the same time a year ago.

Charlottetown

  • Residential Sales: +15.4 per cent to 75
  • Median Price: +28.5 per cent to $363,000

Stratford

  • Residential Sales: +5.9 per cent to 36
  • Median Price: +40.6 per cent to $495,000

Cornwall

  • Residential Sales: +28.6 per cent to 18
  • Median Price: +20.5 per cent to $352,450

Summerside

  • Residential Sales: +25 per cent to 40
  • Median Price: +12.2 per cent to $252,000

Eastern PEI

  • Residential Sales: +160 per cent to 65
  • Median Price: +40 per cent to $247,500

Western PEI

  • Residential Sales: +194.1 per cent to 50
  • Median Price: +33.2 per cent to $173,000

For the PEI housing market, the same key trends are playing out as throughout the broader Canadian real estate market: limited inventories up against strengthening demand.

In March, the number of new listings climbed 63.1 per cent to 243, but active residential listings fell 36.4 per cent to a 15-year low.

The months of inventory totalled 2.3 at the end of March, down from 6.5 months the same time a year ago. This is also below the long-run average of 11 months. Market analysts assess this measurement since it represents the number of months it would take to sell present stocks at the current rate of sales activity.

Could fresh supply come to the island soon? According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), housing starts increased to 56 in April, up from 48 at the same time a year ago. Completions have also increased to 219 in April, up from 72 in the previous year.

The upward trajectory in the Canadian real estate market has many anticipating easing moving forward. The data suggest that growth has peaked, but the same zenith might not be appearing in the red-hot Prince Edward Island housing sector.

PEI Real Estate Pricing Out More Buyers

Today, it has become a little more difficult to qualify for a home loan in Canada as federal regulators introduced a new mortgage stress test. Ottawa confirmed that the stress test for mortgages had been set to 5.25 per cent, up from 4.79 per cent. Or, put another way, somebody who was qualified for a $300,000 mortgage would now only qualify for approximately $285,000. This will reduce the pool of borrowers, which some suggest would help douse the sizzling housing industry.

Well, not in PEI.

While it might diminish some of the power inside this once-in-a-generation real estate market, PEI is so hot that there is still plenty of demand among homebuyers. Suffice it to say, the landscape has changed in PEI, from out-of-province buyers who are using their equity from their urban property sales, to families pooling their money for mortgages.

At the same time, it could be harder for young first-time homebuyers without equity.

“Just this little increase is going to have an effect on their ability to borrow, particularly if their load-level of debt is at its maximum now,” said Wayne Ellis, president of the PEI Real Estate Association, in an interview with CBC News. “Here, our market, we’re down in listings — it just creates competition, and I don’t think that’s going to change with a stress test.”

Whether you are a young person from outside the province or you have been living in PEI your entire life, it will continue to be a challenge to acquire a detached or semi-detached home in the province. To increase your chances of success within this fierce real estate market, ensure that you’re aligning yourself with a trusted, experienced REALTOR®.