Local buyers bunkering down, says region’s real estate assoc. president

Home sales in this part of Ontario continue to decline, prompting an area real estate agent to suggest homebuyers might be in hibernation. 

“Overall home sales continue to decline as we head into the end of the year, as buyers have moved to the sidelines and appear to be bunkering down for the winter,” said Matthew Lidbetter, president of the Lakelands Association of Realtors, in a news release issued by the group. 

Based on MLS data for the Lakelands region, which covers as far west as Meaford, north to Muskoka and Parry Sound, and through the other Georgian Bay Communities like Collingwood, Orillia, Midland, and Wasaga Beach, there were 256 homes sold in November 2023. That’s a 17.2 per cent decrease from November 2022. 

The value of all the homes sold in Lakelands last month was $67.2 million, which is up 13 per cent compared to the 2022 dollar amount. 

Last month’s non-waterfront home sales were 35 per cent behind the five-year average and 36.9 per cent below the 10-year average for November. 

There were 64 waterfront homes sold in the Lakelands region in November 2023, which is five sales more than in November 2022. 

“Looking more closely at the data, we are beginning to see a small recovery in waterfront home sales, although as sales volumes are typically very low during the winter, it will take another several months to determine how strong this trend is,” said Lidbetter in the news release. “Our market is very well supplied at the moment, with inventories trending about on par with their long-term averages, so there are some attractive deals out there waiting for buyers who decide to step back in.” 

The MLS home price index shows a composite benchmark price of about $690,800 in November for a home in the Lakelands region. The median price for non-waterfront homes sold in all of 2023 so far was $676,250, or about 11 per cent lower than for the first 11 months of 2022. 

Collingwood is within the western portion of the Lakelands region, along with The Blue Mountains, Clearview, Grey Highlands, Meaford, and Wasaga Beach, where 86 homes sold last month, for a median price of $649,950. In November 2022, 100 homes sold in the western part of the region, contributing to a $750,000 median price. 

The central area of Lakelands, including Orillia, Midland, Oro-Medonte, Penetanguishene, Ramara, Springwater, Tay and Tiny is closer in price to the northern part of the region (Parry Sound and Muskoka areas) with the median non-waterfront price for November 2023 at $595,000 for central, and $579,000 for the north. 

Across Onario, prices for three leading real estate categories fell in November compared to October, data released Thursday by the Canadian Real Estate Association shows.

It’s the fourth month-over-month fall in a row.

Looking at seasonally adjusted numbers, average single-family homes in Ontario fell from $979,800 to $962,600, condos fell from $643,900 to $639,700 and townhouses fell from $720,000 to $706,500. 

Compared to November of 2022, the picture is more mixed: single-family homes, townhouses and condos are within one per cent year-over-year.

“I wouldn’t expect anything too headline-grabbing from the resale housing market for the next few months,” CREA chair Larry Cerqua, said in a release Thursday.

“That’s a good thing, because a market that looks to be stabilizing in balanced territory increasingly suggests the soft-landing scenario.”

CREA seems resigned to the idea that higher rates have dampened the market.

“Not getting offers they were willing to accept, it’s looking like many (sellers) are also now resigned to hunker down until next year,” CREA senior economist Shaun Cathcart.

“It’s probably a good move, given that recent expectations around interest rate cuts suggest it might be a somewhat more active spring market than we thought.”

Locally in the Lakelands real estate area, single-family home prices rose .1 per cent and condos fell 1.8 per cent since November of last year. 

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– With files from Patrick Cain

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