2018 Year In Review: Local Real Estate Market Observations

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Happy holiday season, Gang! Can you believe Santa is coming to town in less than 2 weeks? With the end of 2018 on the horizon, we wanted to take the opportunity to review some of the things we learned this year about our local (Windsor-Essex) real estate market. Here are some items of note that stood out to us.

Listings Are Still Down.
Per WECAR (Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors), through the first 11 months of the year, listings were down from 2017 by 6% year to date. Everyone thought inventory was super low last year and that was one of the main reasons for the bidding wars.  Well, inventory got even lower this year. The supply and demand balance has stayed with the sellers this year.

Average Sale Price Is Up, Again.
Also through those same 11 months of the year as per WECAR, the average sale price rose 14% versus 2017. I don’t think this strayed much from our forecast. Having listings down again, upward pressure was put on sale prices. This is a healthy stat that should put us up with some of the best performing markets in Canada.
Unit Sales Are Down Quite A Bit
In that same timespan, unit sales were down 11% versus 2017. This isn’t a good stat for realtors! Listings being down explains part of it but clearly there is less turnover. A partial explanation could be that sellers have increased their pricing expectations and these over-priced listings are sitting on the market and not resulting in transactions.
Total Volume of Sales Were Up Modestly
Sales volume rose 2% versus 2017 through the first 11 months of 2018 per WECAR. This stat is pretty easy to figure out when you combine sales prices being up 14%, combined with unit sales being down 11%. What also affects this stat is the fact that more and more of the sales seem to be in higher priced categories bringing up the averages.
Increased Interest Rates Haven’t Affected the MarketYet
With the Bank of Canada’s increased interest rates three times this year, higher interest rates are making things less affordable in housing. This hasn’t translated into much decreased demand yet, but should interest rates go up a few more times in 2019, this could start to drive some people out of market.

Investor Demand Has Plateaued
The fever pitch of real estate investment demand seems to have levelled off. We had some listings this year that surprised us a little on the market reaction. The cap rate demanded by sellers and what buyers will accept seem to be at a standstill in 2018. Perhaps cap rates will increase a little next year and part of that may be due to the increasing interest rates mentioned above.
There Is A Serious Housing Shortage in the Rental Market
The vacancy rate in 2017 was down to 2.3% locally. The 2018 report still hasn’t been released but is looking like it will be less than 2%. We believe this stat is somewhat inflated; if you look around for vacancies for any decent buildings, they are essentially 0% with waiting lists. There are also long waiting lists for socially assisted housing. Combining this low rental supply with the booming housing market that is driving more people into the rental market and the situation is really dire for tenants. Something needs to be done about this at the governmental level as it seems to be getting more tight every year and market based solutions don’t look to be feasible.
Those are some of our 2018 real estate market observations. What are yours?  

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