Sarnia-area real estate market bounces back to balance in February

The Sarnia-area’s real estate market bounced back in February after a slow start to the year, says the president of the Sarnia Lambton Association of Realtors.

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The Sarnia-area’s real estate market bounced back in February after a slow start to the year, says the president of the Sarnia Lambton Association of Realtors.

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Jeremy Guerette said key indicators in February’s local real estate statistics signal “we are firmly back into a balanced market” after dipping into a buyer’s market in January as new listings climbed and home sales were slow.

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February saw 100 local home sales with a total value of $49.5 million, comparable to the same month in 2023.

“We will continue to monitor this closely, but my expectation is the market will continue to improve as we move into the usually active spring season,” Guerette said.

The market’s rebound last month “was a little quicker than I expected, but I wasn’t surprised,” he said.

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Jeremy Guerette is president of the Sarnia-Lambton Association of Realtors. (Files) Photo by File photo /The Observer

Homebuyers appear to feel more confident “that if they buy something today, it’s not going to be less tomorrow,” Guerette said.

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“That confidence in the market will bring out more buyers and that’s what we need to get things going.”

The local market remained in a seller’s market, with buyers outnumbering listings, through the pandemic, before shifting into what the association called a balanced market in 2023 as interest rates climbed.

January’s slip into a buyer’s market, with more homes on the market than buyers, was something the local real estate market hadn’t seen in about a decade, Guerette said.

February’s median year-to-date home price in the Sarnia area was $450,000, only one cent lower than at the same point in 2023.

“I think that makes us relatively affordable compared to the rest of the province,” Guerette said.

“When we had the hot market, we were seeing a lot of people coming from out of town to try and take advantage of that affordability,” he said. “That did slow down with the cooling market.”

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The association looks to the monthly sales-to-listing ratio to indicate the type of market the region is experiencing, Guerette said. It sat at nearly 49 per cent in February.

“If you’re under 40, you’re probably in a buyer’s market and if you’re over 60, then you would be more into a seller’s market,” he said. “We’re right in the middle of a balanced market, by that indicator.”

There were 205 new listings locally in February. Year-to-date, active listings were up about 36 per cent from last year.

Homes in the “lower, entry-level price range” of up to about $400,000 are selling well, Guerette said. “That lower price range is hot now.”

Homes in the mid-range of $400,000 to $800,000 “are starting to do better as well,” he added.

Guerette expects interest rates to “hold steady” early this year, particularly since real estate appears to be heating up again in larger centres, such as Toronto and Vancouver.

“Summer to fall would be my guess” when the Bank of Canada may lower lending rates, he said.

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