The housing market in New Brunswick is experiencing an unprecedented boom in 2021 that is in part being driven by the pandemic, according to figures released by the Greater Moncton Realtors.
Homes in the Greater Moncton area are selling for approximately 30 per cent above more than they were this time last year, according to Ryan Davison, the president-elect of Greater Moncton Realtors.
“It is on fire,” said Davison.
He said prices rose by about 15 per cent during 2020. But price increases have accelerated over the past two months, pushing prices about 30 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels in January and February of 2020.
In February of this year, the total dollar value of housing sales in Greater Moncton jumped a staggering 88 per cent over February 2020, said Davison, even though the number of listed homes on the market was down 15 per cent for the month.
He said the total value of homes sales in February 2020 was $47,374,872 compared to $89,067,549 in February 2021.
The average selling price for a home in Greater Moncton is currently, $259,587 according to Davison.
He says many of the buyers are coming from larger centres such as Toronto, where people sold their homes for big dollars and headed for cheaper homes on the east coast.
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He said some people are continuing to work for employers outside of the province while working from their new homes in New Brunswick. Others, he said are choosing to retire early.
“Retirees seem to be pulling out of Ontario markets sooner than planned to capitalize on high prices there and secure a nice nest egg with the difference in what they do not have to spend in N.B.”
He also said some people are choosing to move to the region because there are fewer cases of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions.
“They can sell there and come here and pick up a house that they enjoy and is great and they can either park some money or even look at a cottage or something like that,” Davison said.
The boom is being felt right across the province, said Davison, and it is also being driven by lower interest rates and a shortage of inventory on the market which is leading to bidding wars.
“We are seeing people saying ‘you know what my job, because it is COVID, allows me to work from home and I cleared it with them why don’t I go somewhere I can buy a house and work from home and own my own property,'” he said.
New Brunswick has long been known as a place people leave to look for work, but Davison said the pandemic is causing a pivot in that trend.
“When you think about it, for the businesses this is a win-win because they have learned to trust their employees during COVID to work from home so potentially can they look at lower rents in expensive markets if they continue to do that,” he said.
“We are seeing people saying ‘you know what my job, because it is COVID, allows me to work from home and I cleared it with them why don’t I go somewhere I can buy a house and work from home and own my own property,'” said Davison.
“We kinda thought it would go quick but we were surprised how quick it went,” said Stephen Decoste of Riverview, N.B., after his home sold in less than a week for thousands of dollars above the asking price.
“The people who actually ended up purchasing our house just actually drove by and put their offer in and then came to see it,” said DeCoste.
Jeff LeBlanc owns Cottage to Castle Home Inspections Services in Moncton. He said that he has been tracking the area codes of his clients and more than 50 per cent are from outside New Brunswick.
“We are seeing a big influx of buyers from outside of the province and a lot of times we are inspecting houses for buyers who have never seen the house themselves,” said LeBlanc.
Davison said that he believes, as long as interest rates remain low, the real estate bubble here isn’t likely to burst because homes in Moncton have been undervalued for years.
When the vaccine rollout is complete, he said, New Brunswick may be the province of choice.
“You know this story has been told by people in the Maritimes for a long time, you know come and take a look at what we have and it is great that people are starting to recognize it.”