By Lindsay Smith/Real Estate Columnist
Think back to early June 2020. I remember it like it was yesterday. When the first lockdown happened, real estate was deemed essential, however, our office was closed, shuttered, locked up and we were mostly manning the dining room and kitchen tables replacing the salt and pepper shakers with pens, laptops and cell phones. June was the month that things started to turn around, marking an increase in activity and value increases no one could have predicted.
In a normal year, (defined as anything unlike the past two) we see real estate start to sell in late January, with February to May a busy spring market, followed by a bit of a slowdown in the summer and things ramping up once the kids get back to school. In 2020, there was no spring market, almost no school and a sideway summer with people learning new skills like following arrows on grocery store floors and learning to buy “essential” items online. No, there was little normal about last year. For real estate, June was the month that really reflected the change in housing. When we look at where we are currently, comparing these metrics to a year ago the numbers are shocking and “not normal.” I am going to share the numbers for Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington and then dig into what happened to Oshawa prices over the past year.
In Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington, June 2020 started off with 502 detached homes for sale and we saw 378 homes sell. The past month saw 375 homes for sale with 715 sales. This shows that this year we have had 340 more homes sell and 127 fewer homes for sale. The laws of supply and demand come into play and with high demand and low supply, prices spike. In Oshawa, the average detached home jumped from $591,000 a year ago, to a record $847,000 as of the end of May.
I had a reader reach out to me this past week, noting that they had missed out on a home that appeared to be perfect. They went on to explain how the home was sold before the property hit the market and wondered how they might get “in the know” when another perfect home is placed for sale. Alas, I gave a bit of a weak answer, not wanting to get in between a sales rep and their client, (they mentioned they were working with an agent) so I thought I might answer it in my column.
This question speaks to the issue of low inventory and high demand. Here are a few thoughts on creating a winning strategy for finding a home.
- Get prequalified. I mean a true lender approval, not an online interaction with a web site. This means dealing with a mortgage broker or a lender directly, submitting proof of employment, down-payment proof and banking records. Firm offers are not all the same. If you are submitting an offer with proof of true qualification you increase your chances of a winning bid.
- Engage the services of a full-time, experienced, local real estate sales representative. I cannot begin to stress how important using a full-time sales rep is. When someone is immersed in any career totally, they notice things others might not see. I have sold off market homes to my clients that I found out were for sale by connecting with other local agents. Having a local network of active agents benefits you, the buyer.
- Broker Bay. This could be your best friend. Many homes are listed exclusively prior to being placed on the open market. Broker Bay is an online platform used by most GTA agents and is searchable similar to MLS. One of my first sales this year was a property I placed on Broker Bay and had a sales rep sell it before anyone else knew it was available.
- As “analog” as it sounds, drive the areas you are interested in and let your sales rep know if you see any coming soon signs. Or, better yet, have your sales rep drive the neighborhoods you want to live in.
The market shows no sign on slowing down and once the economy opens up I feel that the real estate market will get even stronger with the confidence that comes with more employment and people moving about more freely. The average detached home in Durham Region just crossed the $1 million threshold! Can I see that average getting close to $1.5M in the next few years? Absolutely. Durham Region is on the radar of all GTA buyers, and the buyers find the best priced areas. And guess what, Oshawa is one of the lowest priced areas to purchase homes in.
I have the numbers for Whitby and Clarington, if you would like them, send me an email. I always have time to help educate and encourage people to find homes.