Saskatchewan housing market home to great sales despite Covid-19 challenges

Saskatchewan’s home sales are up 54 per cent from this time last year, even amongst a global pandemic. Photo by Andrew Benson.

While early predictions for Saskatchewan saw a weak 2020 housing market, Saskatchewan’s housing sales continue to defy expectations. The province’s real estate market has outperformed last year, having sales go up 54 per cent from last November.

Increased Covid-19 restrictions have not kept people from buying and selling real estate. Sales in Regina were up 67.3 per cent going from 147 sales in November 2019, to 246 in November 2020.  Regina also saw home sales up 26.3 per cent above the five-year average.

Jason Yochim, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Realtors Association (SRA), said that sales going up 54 per cent from last November comes from several factors.

“I think one of the primary reasons sales have gone up is lower interest rates, said Yochim. “A lot of people are getting money at below 2 per cent. As well, people feel confident their payments will be stable into the future.

“Another driver with a lot of the transactions were seeing is from people spending more time in their homes. People are seeing the deficiencies whether that is lack of square footage, or renovations that need to be done, or people that need more space. People are wanting to upgrade to a home that fits those needs.”

Jason Clermont, a realtor & broker at Realty Regina, said that while the year started slow, it has really picked up.

“We saw a big impact from March to May,” said Clermont. “In a typical market we would see about 1,100 listings in those months, and it was down to about 250 each month. Which means less inventory. Since that lull, the market has been very busy. The low inventory coupled with low mortgage rates have created a situation with more transactions taking place.”

Clermont said staying at home has created an opportunity for some to look at a new home. “Some sellers are finding they are having more disposable income if they haven’t been affected financially from the pandemic. And now sellers are making moves to improve their life.”

Technology has allowed people to buy and sell homes without actually visiting them.

“Our industry has been fairly proactive on the technology side,” said Yochim. “Utilizing tools for virtual tours, Facebook live open houses, etc. Ways to get people through the property without actually being there.”

Regina’s home market also saw more people listing their homes this November. The number of new listings in Nov. 2020 rose 10.2 per cent going from 293 to 323.

“With the number of new listings, I think as people see lower inventories and prices starting to creep up, some sellers think it’s a great opportunity to put their home on the market,” said Yochim.

Saskatchewan’s inventory levels as a whole continue to stay low throughout much of the province. In 18 of the 19 markets the SRA tracks, inventories were down.

“Prior to Covid-19, we saw a decrease in the number of new listings and active listings coming to the market,” said Yochim.

“With our inventory levels about half of what they were three or four years ago, you have less property for buyers to buy. The number of offers per property is often higher, and the time the house spends on the market is lower.”

Having less homes on the market, and for shorter times means more competition for homes. Homes in Regina stayed on the market for an average of 59 days in November.

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