Realtors optimistic market will rebound

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Housing and property sales in the Peace region are showing signs of steady growth for 2020 as business started picking up in 2019.

Peace River realtor Layne Gardner says the market is slowly rising.

“The outlook for 2020 would include a continuing improvement to the market over 2019, with sales likely increasing by a similar percentage as seen last year,” says Gardner, an associate with Re/Max Northern Realty.

“Compared to 2017 or 2018, the real estate market continues to improve from the low point in 2016.

“Each successive year since 2016 has witnessed a slow, gradual increase in sales.”

High Prairie realtors Debbie Nelson and Gordon Olson share that optimistic outlook.

“My prediction for the 2020 market is positive as I think we will see a possible slight increase again in pricing,” says Nelson, Royal LePage PVR Realty broker-owner.

“Although I think we will still see highs and lows, I do not foresee as many lows.”

Olson is broker-owner of Century 21 Sunnyside Realty.

“I’m optimistic of a good year in 2020,” Olson says. “Our numbers were up slightly in 2019 from 2018.”

He says the year is off to a good start.

“Interest rates are holding firm and the rental market is very busy,” Olson says.

“That typically helps increase sales.”

Sales in Peace River and Grimshaw in 2019 were up just over 14 per cent from 2018, Gardner says.

However, sales in the rural outlaying rural areas around Peace River dropped just over 10 per cent.

Sales around Falher and McLennan increased by 4.76 per cent over 2018.

Commercial real estate remains slow with the most activity in residential and acreages.

Agricultural real estate remains solid but flat.

Homes prices seem to have stabilized, Gardner says.

Inventory levels have stabilized which in turn helps with prices.

In the town of Peace River, homes in the $275,000-$325,000 range represent the busiest segment of the market.

He says an improved economy would boost real estate.

“Job creation will help to bring people back to our region and those buyers will help absorb the excess inventory,” Gardner says.

“A stronger sense of economic certainty will also help those that are actively searching for a property but are sitting on the fence.

“They are not certain of the economic future to make a decision and enter the real estate market.”

The price is right for buyers.

“With prices as low as they have been in many years, a bit of economic good news could be just what is needed to help buyers get in before prices begin to rise and allow them to realize some very good deals,” Gardner says.

“This would also help us to transition away from a buyer’s market to a more balanced market.”

High Prairie realtors believe job security at Tolko, High Prairie Forest Products and the High Prairie Health Complex has spurred confidence and interest for new buyers in the local market.

Many home owners are also looking to upgrade to higher-end properties, Nelson says.

The region continues to attract potential buyers from other parts of the province.

“We are still seeing a draw to the area by city dwellers wanting the recreation and peacefulness of a smaller community that High Prairie has to offer,” Nelson says.

Olson says that shows in the records.

“We have had a slight increase in sales from out-of-town buyers,” Olson says.

Royal LePage numbers show that prospective home buyers were mostly attracted to properties ranging from $180,000-$350,000.

Nelson also sees a growing number of people interested in acreages and rural living.

But the region has a “shortage of desirable supply”, such as bungalows, Nelson says.

The busiest residential market for Century 21 is still in the range from $250,000-to $300,000, Olson says.

Another market is growing, he says.

“We have seen a number of income-producing properties sell in the past year, with new and existing landlords investing,” Olson says.

He says the diverse economy of the High Prairie region prevents drastic results when the oil and gas industry goes down.

“In contrast to some of our neighbours, we are doing pretty well,” Olson says. “Oil and gas towns are hurting more than we are.

“Not to say our economy is doing well, but we’ve been able to weather the storm better than communities around us who are more reliant on oil and gas.”

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