Real estate market in Durham advantageous for sellers during coronavirus pandemic

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Industry leaders are reporting a resurgence in the real estate market in Durham. This comes after the region took an initial hit in the early stages of the pandemic. Brittany Rosen takes a look at the latest numbers. – Aug 10, 2020

Industry leaders are reporting a resurgence in the real estate market in Durham after the region took an initial hit in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Vicki Sweeney, president of the Durham Region Association of Realtors, if you’re looking to sell your home in Durham, now is the time.

“The pandemic hit and obviously our numbers went right down,” Sweeney said. “But now we’re seeing unprecedented numbers for a summer market.”

According to housing reports released by the association, in July there were 1,583 homes sold at a record-high average of $709, 640.

Read more: Coronavirus — Home sales surge outside of Toronto as residents seek more rural life

This is a notable difference compared to sales in April, when only 513 homes were sold at an average of $612,563. What’s more, in July, properties only lasted on the market for an average of 16 days compared to 23 days this time last year.

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Sweeney says right now the competition is fierce for buyers, with sellers getting multiple offers. She says the sudden increase in sales could be due to a number of factors.

“I think there’s also another trend happening right now, where before living in (Toronto’s) downtown core was important for avoiding long commutes,” she said.

“Since COVID, we’ve had to adapt to the online platforms, and people have realized, if they can work from home they don’t have to live in the downtown core.”

Mortgage brokers say another reason for the spike in interest for homes in Durham is a significant drop in mortgage rates, which currently hover around two per cent.

Read more: Coronavirus — Real estate market in Ontario’s cottage country experiencing boom

Mortgage broker Craig Howie says that while the current state of the market has posed a challenge for first-time home buyers, it’s proven to be even more difficult for those who are self-employed.

“Previously, lenders would look at a two-year average and look at what their self-employed income was,” Howie said.

“Now they’re looking at whether or not the job is going to be feasible, if it’s going to be around in the next couple of years because of everything that’s gone on with the pandemic.”

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Howie adds that with the value of homes going up, there have also been difficulties when it comes to appraisals.

Read more: Controversial Pickering, Ont. condo proposal draws hundreds to open house

“When a lender is, say, lending 95 per cent of the value of that home, there’s concern that maybe the value isn’t there and some appraisals aren’t coming in the way we need them to be.”

Realtors in Durham say Clarington is currently the region’s largest hotspot for buying homes.

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