While the dream of home ownership may be fading in urban areas it’s not only alive and well, but thriving in Chatham-Kent.
Rosaire Cartier of Excel Realty said last month was the busiest he’s seen in his 27 years in real estate.
“It’s a combination of amazing mortgage rates and affordable prices,” he said. “We had a slow January and February due to the cold winter, but things have turned around.”
In some cases, Cartier said, local homeowners are dealing with competing offers, a rarity in this market.
“You hear about vendors selling their homes above listed prices in the GTA, but it’s happening here as well, on occasion,” he said.
The Canadian Real Estate Association announced MLS sales were up 3.1% from April to May, the fourth consecutive month for increases.
The national average price for a home sold in May was $450,886, more than 8% above last year. Excluding Toronto and Vancouver, where average home prices are between $650,000 and $800,000, the average price is still $344,988.
Jamie Winkler, president of the Chatham-Kent Association of Realtors, said with an average price of $158,332, this area has some of the most affordable housing in Ontario.
“Since we’re positioned at the affordable end of the market, we’re getting a lot of serious inquiries from the GTA,” he said. “When you combine our prices with the recreation, lifestyle and other factors, we are extremely attractive.”
Winkler said there are GTA residents considering retiring early on the equity on their homes.
“People with million-dollar-plus homes in Toronto can find something comparable here in the $250,000 range,” he said. “If you’re within a few years of retirement, that’s a powerful incentive.”
Rocky Gaudrault, owner of Re/Max in Chatham and Tilbury, said Chatham-Kent is in a “sweet spot” when it comes to home ownership.
“We’re a third of the price of large urban areas yet we’re close enough to them to have their amenities easily accessible,” he said. “Our offices are outpacing previous years; we’re almost doubling business and we’re using that to re-invest in the community.”
During May there were 133 units sold in Chatham-Kent, a 1.5% increase over last year.
On a year-to-date basis, home sales numbered 459 units, right on par with the first five months of 2014.
There were 687 active residential listings on the Association’s MLS System at the end of May, a decrease of 2.1% from the same period last year.