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Balanced economy keeps home sales humming

North Bay's balanced real estate market bodes well for both buyers and sellers, says the president of the North Bay Real Estate Board.
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North Bay's diversified economy has meant a healthy home construction scene in Gateway City.

North Bay's balanced real estate market bodes well for both buyers and sellers, says the president of the North Bay Real Estate Board.

“We don't have any of those horror stories you hear about in the bigger cities like Toronto where houses are being sold for more than $100,000 of their original asking prices,” said Brian Graham. “We are a different animal than the bigger centres.”

The board includes the city and an area that stretches from South River to Temagami, and from Verner and West Nipissing to Mattawa.

The average price of a home in the trading area in 2011 was $220,485, up from the previous year's average of $217,600.

“The number of units or ends was down, a very small decrease, and it is hard to hammer down any one particular reason why,” he said.

Dwellings sold last year amounted to 1,100, down from 1,174 in 2010.

“We have a balanced economy as well in North Bay with post-secondary institutions, a mining supply industry, the military base and the new hospital,” Graham said.

“The efforts that city council have done over the past eight years or so have been really good for the community. They have been shovel ready with stimulus programs and they have invested in infrastructure. I think North Bay is well poised for the future,” he said.

The North Bay and District Multicultural Centre, which helps integrate and assists new immigrants to the area, is also a boon to the city.

“Having a centre like that is great,” Graham said. “New people coming into the area see that as a real plus.”

The price range the majority of buyers are purchasing in runs between $200,000 and $350,000.

“That's the sweet spot in our market. In the under-$100,000 range, there is not much choice. In the upper end, the $400,000-plus range, there is limited choice,” he said.

However, about 80 to 100 new homes a year are built in the city which gives consumers more options.

The completion of the four-laning of Highway 11, between Toronto and North Bay, will also mean increased traffic to the area.

“That will really be a game changer for us. People south of Steeles (Avenue) don't realize we are only three-and-a-half hours away. They get us mixed up with Thunder Bay and think we are a 16-hour drive,” he said.

Although the average house price has remained fairly static the last few years, Graham said the realtors all agree there is business to be had.

“We have a waterfront project taking shape, a new hospital and many other great things so a great framework has been laid in North Bay. We are optimistic here,” he said.

“We still believe real estate is a good investment. Compared to other portfolios you might have, it performs over time.”

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