Canadians have faced extraordinary circumstances over the past few months due to the ongoing global pandemic. In efforts to contain the virus, people have been practicing social and physical distancing, which has affected how they work, spend money and the Canadian real estate market. When it comes to the market in St. John’s, many are left wondering how the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is faring these days.
St. John’s is the main financial, commercial and cultural centre of the province, and the city is home to a variety of suburban neighbourhoods, shopping complexes and industrial areas. Although the fishing industry is still important in St. John’s, the city is known today as the main service centre for the province’s offshore oil and gas industry. St. John’s is a growing metropolitan area with lots to offer, and it’s no wonder one-third of Newfoundland’s population chooses to live here.
Although housing prices are still relatively low in St. John’s compared to other Canadian markets, prices are expected to increase.
Late last year, RE/MAX was anticipating a two-per-cent decline in prices in 2020 for St. John’s Metro. Buyer’s market conditions were expected to prevail in 2020, a continuing trend from 2018-2019.
St. John’s housing market offers exceptional affordability versus many other major cities across Canada, and this is a leading reason why it is an attractive place to settle down for many people. First-time homebuyers were expected to drive the market in 2020, with the Galway subdivision in high demand.
Home Sales in St. John’s
Home sales are down in St. John’s and Newfoundland & Labrador. The Newfoundland And Labrador Association of Realtors reported that residential transactions in St. John’s fell by 61 per cent on a year-over-year basis in May 2020, while home sales in the rest of the province were down 37.4 per cent.
When we look at single detached homes in St John’s, there was a decline of 62.1 per cent from levels in April 2019.
Examining the overall supply of homes on the market, we can see that there was quite a drop comparing this year to last year. There were 4,013 active residential listings at the end of May, which is a decrease of 27 per cent from the same time last year.
Housing Prices in St. John’s
Housing prices in St. John’s remain low, however, there is an expectation that they will experience an increase over the next several years.
Province-wide, the average price of homes sold in May 2020 was $228,519, down 2.3 per cent year-over-year.
However, due to improvements in the labour market and in the unemployment rate in St. John’s, we could see housing prices in St. John’s begin to crawl higher over the next several years.
Effects of Low Housing Prices in St. John’s
There are several effects that low housing prices can have on a housing market such as St. John’s, including the rate of housing construction and the willingness of homeowners to put their properties on the market.
When housing prices are very low, there is a tendency for a slowdown in housing construction. There is the expectation that a reduction in new home construction in St. John’s will affect housing prices, leading to an eventual increase in prices.
Another effect of low housing prices is that when prices are low, homeowners have the tendency to keep their houses off the market. This will mean fewer homes for sale, leading to a decrease in supply and therefore encouraging prices to go up.
With home sales down and prices remaining low, those looking to purchase a property in St. John’s could find this that now is an opportune time.
Buying a new home during the pandemic does come with its challenges; you may be wondering how the quality of services will differ during this time. Luckily, most activities relating to buying or selling a home can be done online. If you are interested in entering the real estate market, always make sure that you work with a qualified Realtor who can best guide you through the market.