By Ian Ross
North Bay’s real estate market remains strong, and low interest rates continue to be a factor in this trend.
Though fewer homes were listed this year - only 1,430 new listings, down from 1,736 last year - sales were ahead 9.8 per cent for the first eight months of 2002.
House prices remain relatively stable, with an average price of $119,239 for the first eight months, down 1.3 per cent from the same period last year.
“There’s good supply out there on the market, but not as good as it has been last year,” says Warren Philp, market analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
Real estate agents were scrounging to keep up with the demand for the mid-range $100,000 to $159,000 homes from many first-time and move-up buyers - a trend present all over Northern Ontario, says Philp.
New construction got off to a good start this year, but the numbers have slowed down.
The CMHC statistics show builders started 63 single-detached home units in North Bay through the first eight months of this year, compared to 68 in the same period last year.
Though considerably weaker from North Bay’s building-boom years between 1985 and 1991, Philp says it is considerably better than 1995 and 1996 when only 34 and 36 new units were started.
Resale activity remains strong as low interest rates enable people to get back into the market.
“To a large extent it’s been a function of how affordable homes are, given low mortgage rates.”
Though interest rates are pegged to inch up later this year, “it’s still quite low by historical standards and I don’t think it’s really deterring those who want to purchase a home. Longterm, rates should stay low and it’s not keeping that many people out of home ownership.”
North Bay retains the lowest residential vacancy rate in Northern Ontario at 2.7 per cent, the lowest of all centres with populations over 10,000. New figures are due out in October.