Real estate activity for the 1st quarter of 2019 across the Southern Georgian Bay region has shown some improvement from the slowdown we experienced in the second half of 2018 with stronger sales in specific portions of the market particularly in the higher price segments.
MLS® dollar sales in both January and February were at increased levels from the same time last year but softened slightly in March with sales for the month of $87.6 million down 5.2% from March 2018. Despite softer sales in March, total 1st quarter residential dollar sales through the MLS® system of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR) totalled $201.9 million, an increase of $12.9 million or 6.8% more than the 1st quarter of 2018. Once again it is worth noting that these results are for residential MLS® sales only including single family homes, condominiums and vacant lots. Commercial properties, farms etc. are excluded as are sales of new homes made directly by developers outside of the local MLS®
While year-to-date MLS® dollar sales have increased over the first three months of 2018, unit sales in 2019 through the end of March are below last year. MLS® unit sales in the 1st quarter totalled 386 properties, down 10.2% from the 430 units sold in the 1st quarter of 2018. Sales start to ramp up in January following the end of the holiday season and typically peak April through June when properties start to look their best during the spring and early summer. Inventory levels of properties listed for sale on the MLS® system also ramp up during this period, potential buyers have more to choose from come spring but competition among sellers is also stronger. We have experienced a relatively harsh winter which has made for less than ideal driving conditions, this combined with cold temperatures has hampered property showings which is at least partially responsible for the slow start to this year.
Year-to-date MLS® single family home sales across our market total 279 units a decrease of 5 homes or 1.7% less than the first three months of 2018. At the same time we are seeing stronger single family home sales in some area municipalities around the region which are reflected on the accompanying chart. MLS® home sales in Collingwood total 66 properties up 34.6% while sales in the Blue Mountains of 48 homes is up a modest 6.6% from one year ago. All other area municipalities have year-to-date single family home sales that are close to or slightly below the 1st quarter of 2018.
While overall year-to-date MLS® dollar volume through the end of March is ahead of last year and unit sales are down, certain price levels are showing some significant gains from one year ago particularly in the upper price segments of the market. Sales in these upper price ranges is what is driving total MLS® dollar sales making up for the shortfall in unit sales. Sales in the $500,000 to $799,999 range total 108 properties up 28.5% from one year ago. Sales from $1 to $1.499 million are up slightly with 13 sales this year compared to 12 in the 1st quarter of 2018. Sales between $1.5 to $1.999 million total 8 units which is four times greater than the sale of 2 properties sold in the first three months of last years. Similarly sales over $2 million have doubled this yearwith 4 MLS® sales reported versus just 2 sold at this time last year. These numbers clearly reflect that our market continues to move more upscale especially in the Blue Mountains where almost 50% of sales above $750,000 in our market area take place. Sales in the lower price segments of our market continue to remain weaker than last year particularly in the $100,000 to $500,000 price ranges. First it is important to note that properties priced under the $300,000 mark are getting harder and harder to find unless they are perhaps a smaller and older entry level home or condominium. Sales under $100,000 in the 1st quarter of 2018 totalled 32 units whereas this year there we only 13 sales. During the first three months of 2018 there were 181 MLS® sales in the $300,000 to $500,000 price category this year the number has dropped 12% to a total of 159 properties sold. Properties in these price ranges represent a prime segment of our market where demand is strong but the inventory of available properties listed for sale is low and we suspect this trend may continue throughout 2019.
Overall we continue to experience a general shortfall of inventory listed for sale on our local MLS® system. Year-to-date, the number of new listings for residential properties totals 674 units which is a modest 3% increase above the number of new residential listing that came to market in the 1st quarter of 2018. While demand still exceeds supply, properties listed for sale are lingering on the market longer before selling. For the 1st quarter of 2018 the average time-on-market before selling was 47 days, for the first three months of 2019 that average number has increased to 56 days. The only exception to the inventory shortage is in the upper price ranges of the market. Overall our MLS® system has 4.6 months of available inventory listed for
sale. For residential properties priced in the $1 to $1.5 million range there is 8.5 months of available inventory while above $1.5 million there is 26.6 months of inventory listed for sale. For buyers looking to purchase an upper end luxury home or ski chalet in the area there is an abundance of properties to choose from making this a good time to buy the property that meets your needs and budget. The level of MLS® listed inventory overall however is showing signs of trending upwards which is encouraging for those looking to buy especially in the lower price segments. Listing activity in both January and March was above last year’s level in these two
Price Range Current # of Active Listings Months of Inventory
Under $300,000 55 2.0
$300,000 to $499,999 191 2.7
$500,000 to $799,999 220 5.7
$800,000 to $999,999 60 7.8
$1.000 to $1.499 Million 57 11.4
$1.500 to $1.999 Million 33 32.6
$ 2 Million +2218.3
MLS® condominium sales during the 1st quarter total 68 units, a decrease of 23% from the first three months of 2018 when 89 condominium units were sold. Some of this decrease stems from a significant number of new condominium units being built and sold in the area by developers which are not sold through the local MLS® system. A number of condominium properties are also rented out for the ski season and as the season winds down with spring now here some of these condominium properties will undoubtedly get listed in the coming months.
In summary, overall we have experienced a slight shift in the market. Sales are softer yet prices thus far have remained relatively stable. Buyers some of whom must meet tighten mortgage rules and lenders are both being cautious. With the odd exception, the days of multiple offers with properties regularly selling for well over their asking price are substantially diminished. To restore buyer confidence as well as to help them meet the tighter lending rules two things need to happen. First we need to see an upturn in the number of properties listed for sale and the arrival of spring will no doubt bring that about as it typically does. Cautious buyers and those that require mortgage financing need more choices of what is available to purchase. Further, both buyers and sellers may need to adjust their expectations in terms of what they as buyers can afford to pay whereas sellers may need to accept more list at more realistic asking prices that are consistent with today’s current market conditions. With the heated market conditions we experienced in 2016 through to and including early 2018, many buyers got caught up in the multiple offer melee. More inventory listed for sale will further serve to balance the market levelling the playing field for both buyers and sellers alike.
As we head into the spring market it will be interesting to see how the overall level of real estate activity unfolds through the balance of 2019. If you are considering buying or selling in the months ahead I would be delighted to discuss your particular needs and what would be the best strategy in helping you meet you goals and objectives relative to real estate in the Southern Georgian Bay area.
Please feel free to Contact Me of you have any questions or to discuss you specific real estate needs and or goals in 2019 or beyond.