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Barrie's frenzied real estate market 'calming'

But prices still remain 'very, very strong'
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After months of surreal prices and frantic bidding wars, the head of the Barrie and District Association of Realtors says things are settling down in the city.  

And for the first time in a long time, there's good news for both home buyers and sellers. 

Over the last three weeks, Rob Alexander says the housing market has slowed a little bit and there's more inventory which is better for buyers because there's more selection.

“We're not seeing quite the frenzy that we had been seeing in terms of multiple offers and homes selling radically over list," said Alexander, President of the Barrie and District Association of Realtors. 

In April the number of residential detached in Barrie selling over list was down to about 77 percent compared to about 82 percent in March.

"There's definitely been a bit of a pause.  A bit of a calming," said Alexander. "People are finding there's actually more selection which means there's more opportunity to make a well-informed decision about what you're buying as opposed to 'you better buy this quick cause it's not going to be there tomorrow.'"

The good news for sellers is that prices haven't really been impacted. 

Prices are still staying 'very, very strong' but homes are sitting on the market a little bit longer, which Alexander says is a good thing. 

"In April Barrie residential detached was up 36 percent over April of last year. Year to date we're up about 38 percent over the same time last year," he said. 

"In terms of what we're facing there are no signs at this point of weakness in the market from a price perspective. I think we're getting into this being the new normal.  Homes are just going to cost just that much more than they did a year ago."

On Apr. 20, the Ontario government announced 16 proposed measures aimed at cooling the housing market in the Toronto area, none of which have yet taken effect.

The measures include a 15 per cent tax on non-resident speculators in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area and expanded rent control.

Alexander believes the 'calming' likely has more to do with the season. 

"I think part of it can be attributed to this is a traditional spring when a lot of people start going to the market. I don't know that it's a result of anything the government has done recently.  But I know inventory was at historic lows so any kind of movement forward with the amount of new listings coming on was certainly going to make a significant difference," Alexander said.

And Alexander says probably some people realize prices aren't going down and think maybe now is a good time to cash in. 

But he's not prepared to throw cold water on Barrie's red hot housing market yet. 

“I wouldn't say necessarily cooling. I would say it's calming down a little bit from the frenzy we were seeing back in Feb. and Mar. where there were so few listings available and there seemed to be quite a rush for people to get out and purchase right away," he said.

"We're not seeing quite the same activity. And again with more homes on the market, you and I as consumers have an opportunity to say 'okay that's a nice home but what else have we got. Oh there's a couple down there I can have a look at.'"

Think back to the old days - just a couple of years ago - when  buyers might look at up to 10 homes before making a decision.

In Feb. and Mar, those numbers were down to one or two so if you were going to move you had to move fast.

The Canadian Real Estate Association statistics for April will be released Monday.

"There may be some interesting stuff in there," Alexander said. 

 



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Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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