Regina housing sales boom despite pandemic uncertainty

From February 2020 to February 2021, housing sales in Regina saw an increase of 55.2 per cent. Photo by Jessica Colby.

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regina housing market is hot.

“We are seeing multiple offers,” said Rhonda Garratt, a realtor with JC Realty Regina.

“Many properties are being sold above their list price and sold very quickly. Our inventory is low so it makes it a little more difficult for a buyer to negotiate a lower price and they don’t have as many properties to choose from right now.”

Compared to February 2020, just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began in Saskatchewan, housing sales have gone up 55.2 per cent in Regina, according to a February 2021 press release by the Saskatchewan Realtors Association (SRA).

When the pandemic hit, realtors were unsure what the market was going to look like.

“It was just a complete standstill,” said Virginia Horsman, a realtor with Indian Head Realty Corp. “So, we absolutely had no idea what to expect. And then all of a sudden, things just went off the charts in terms of people looking for housing. So, the demand went up exponentially.”

As it sits right now, the market in Regina is a seller’s market.

“When it’s a seller’s market, it’s favourable for selling and listing properties,” said Garratt.

Horsman had similar views to Garratt on the current state of the market.

“It’s definitely more of a seller’s market right now because inventory is quite low so we’re not seeing as many homes coming up for sale as we would’ve seen pre-pandemic,” said Horsman.

Although it is currently a seller’s market, there is still some uncertainty. Darrell Davis, who is currently trying to sell his house, has expressed those concerns.

“When you think right now with the pandemic going on … you don’t know,” said Davis. “The market’s in flux. Is it going up, is it going down? Might your house sell, might it not sell?”

The needs for a home for buyers have changed as well. Increasing numbers of people are working from home during the pandemic, so they are looking for homes with spaces for home offices. In addition, people are also not travelling due to the current restrictions.

“Their needs in their home have changed some,” said Garratt. “Cottages are selling quicker as well because people aren’t travelling.”

The way real estate showings and signings occur has changed as well since the onset of the pandemic.

“A lot of what we do has gone from in-person meetings to Zoom calls, electronic signings, things like that,” said Horsman.

Garratt included additional safety measures that realtors must follow, including some that have been in place since before the pandemic.

“A few things that we automatically do, we have to wear a mask, we have to respect peoples’ homes,” said Garratt. “Hand sanitation became something that we automatically did. A lot of us did that prior to the pandemic. … Before you go into a home, you must make sure that people are either hand sanitizing or wearing gloves.

“When we leave the home, a lot of times the rules are to leave the lights on and be very minimal in what we touch.”

From February to February, the average price for a home in Regina increased 6.7 per cent from $264,300 to $282,100. This is according to the MLS Home Price Index (HPI) — which is a more accurate way to measure home prices — and the SRA’s February press release.

“I just hearken back to that spot about, ‘Is the market going to work? Do people want to move? Do they feel safe to move – do I feel safe to move?’ ” said Davis.

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