When COVID-19 hit, many people had to quickly adapt to working from home, including financial advisor Kimberlee Davis.
“I have three dogs and two teenage children and we were in an open kind of style home and I didn’t have a proper office space so I was working at the kitchen table,” added Davis.
She said a busy pre-pandemic life hid the fact their family home wasn’t big enough, “once we were in their 24/7 and all together, all trying to do our thing it just wasn’t working for us anymore so that’s when we started looking for houses.”
Realtor Courtney Atkinson said that same reason is the most common theme among clients for 2020 — a welcomed surprise during a very unknown time.
“If you could have taken the temperature of all realtors in North America around mid-March, we were all freaked out,” he added.
Atkinson said Lethbridge had a 10.8 per cent increase in housing units sold throughout 2020. That’s the highest in more than 10 years and most of which came after the month of May.
The overall sales volume also saw an increase — jumping up just over 12 per cent.
In 2020, the overall sale volume was $516,000,000 compared to $459,000,000 in 2019.
“It was the strangest year I have experienced in a dozen years,” Atkinson said.
He added there are a number of factors that have played into the surge in home buying and selling. In some cases, Atkinson said the pandemic escalated his client’s relationship issues, prompting a home sale or purchase.
“A lot of the marriages that weren’t meant to be were kind of fast-tracked and ended this year because everybody was in such close quarters and so, some of that came from the dissolving of marriages,” he said.
The average sale price, according to Atkinson was $293,000 in 2019, staying relatively the same in 2020 at $297,000. He said most of his clients weren’t looking for a major upgrade, rather just a small change like an extra bedroom or office space or a spot for a home gym.
Another factor could be people migrating to Lethbridge. According to U-Haul International, people coming to Lethbridge in one-way U-Haul trucks increased 17 per cent during the past year, while departures rose just 6 per cent.
Good mortgage opportunities were also a driving factor. Atkinson said they are the best he’s seen in years, “We saw record low-interest rates, we’ve seen some people qualifying below two per cent which we have never seen in my entire time in real estate.”
Not only did all of those factors help in encouraging people to buy, or sell, but it spurred people to purchase some project-type homes.
Davis said the pandemic gave her family the time they have always wanted to buy a house and remodel it.
“We knew we wanted to fix something up but we didn’t have the time, so what happened with COVID was that culmination of, jeez, now everything is crazy we are all crammed in this house and we have time on our hands to do renovations.”
Atkinson said he expects to see a similar volume in home transactions as we move into 2021 as people continue to navigate the pandemic.