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Home sales plunge in April due to COVID-19 pandemic, prices steady
LONDON, ONT -- Buying and selling a house amid the COVID-19 pandemic is anything but traditional.
The London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) says that in April, local home sales decreased more than by 50 per cent due to physical distancing rules and the pandemic’s impact on the economy.
In fact, the volume of home sales for April was one of lowest since 1978.
However, realtors in the region say the average price for a home is what matters most, and the average price of a home hasn’t really budged.
Jeannette Keating, salesperson for Keller Williams Lifestyles Realty, says the spring market for realtors typically starts in mid-February.
“A lot of people sold their homes at that peak time, prior to COVID-19,” says Keating.
“The characteristics of this market that we are in right now are very similar to what we saw pre-COVID, it’s just on a smaller scale. We are still seeing those multiple offers, we are still seeing houses going over asking, it’s just not as many because there aren’t as many people listing their houses.”
There are fewer houses for sale and fewer buyers due to the many COVID-19 restrictions.
The government of Ontario has prohibited any open houses and many people are choosing to sell their homes after the effects of COVID-19 blow over.
Keating adds that adapting to the new technological wave of real estate isn’t an easy option for everyone.
“There are a lot of realtors who are not working right now for sure, there are also a lot of realtors that are working right now. It’s all about how easily you can pivot your business…all the virtual platforms and Zoom meetings and Factime walkthroughs.”
Peter Meyer, broker and owner of Royal LePage Triland Realty, says what houses are for sale, are selling with little difficulty.
“What we saw in April was a 50 to 52 per cent reduction in the number of listings coming on the market and there was a 57 per cent drop in the number of sales, so that really balanced itself out.”
Meyer added, “Many houses that are selling in our marketplace are selling in multiple-offer scenarios. In fact, in April in London over 50 per cent of the houses for sale sold at or over asking price.”
LSTAR reported that the average sale price for a home in London for the month of April is up compared to a year ago.
Some areas like Elgin County and Strathroy have seen drops in value, while Middlesex County has seen prices increase by more than 18 per cent compared to April of 2019.
Blair Campbell, president of LSTAR, says that London is a prime place for real estate, even during COVID-19.
“Compared to a year ago, the overall average home price saw an increase of 0.4 per cent rising to $423,143 in April. This average sale price includes all housing types - from single-detached homes to high-rise apartment condominiums.”
Campbell adds that even so, activity surrounding the housing market was anticipated to slow down.
“There is a possibility of doing a year’s business in six months, it’s entirely possible. Our governing body is suggesting that, this isn’t business as normal, we are on the essential services list to help people who are in a time of need.”
Campbell adds that when things do start to reopen and restrictions lessen, he hopes the sales market is full-speed ahead.
“Now, with the provincial government planning to reopen the economy, we are expecting that, once that happens, the local markets will start to gradually recover.”
- With files from CTV's Justin Zadorsky