Soaring real estate prices expected to continue...

Laura Rotz - Royal LePage Niagara, St.Catharines Real Estate Listings

Soaring real estate

After a year of increasing property values, Niagara’s real estate boom isn’t over yet.

Niagara Association of Realtors president Patrick Dummitt says he expects the increasing demand for property throughout the region to continue for years to come.

“We’ve been discovered by the (Greater Toronto Area),” says Dummitt, who works as a sales representative for Royal LePage.

“We’re now the suburbs of the GTA, that’s what it boils down to.”

Dummitt predicts the trend will continue for the next eight years or so.

“There’s going to be another big spike in about five years, when we get the permanent GO (train) station, and that type of thing,” he adds.

While it could be considered a “bold statement” to say the soaring increases will continue, he says “there’s no indication that it’s going to change because Niagara has now been discovered.”

“It’s a 45-minute commute from the GTA to Niagara, and we’re in a commuting environment now.”

According to information published last week on the NAR website,, Niagara housing prices jumped by an average of 18 per cent (about $50,000) in 2016, compared to about eight per cent a year earlier.

“It’s just the simple arithmetic of supply and demand,” Dummitt explains.

The number of Niagara home sales increased, too, for a total of 8,441 compared to 7,289 in 2015.

The biggest price increase was in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where average sale prices increased to $620,419 — about $116,000 more than a year earlier.

In comparison, average sales prices in NOTL only increased by about $30,000 from 2014 to 2015.

In Welland, average prices increased by more than $20,000 last year.

“It’s across the board, right from Grimsby right through to Fort Erie,” Dummitt says. “In a lot of cases, homes are going for huge percentages above the list price — 10 to 30 per cent.”

He says a fellow realtor recently listed a home in north St. Catharines at $359,000.

“It needed a lot of work,” Dummitt says. “But that house had four offers on it, and it sold for $402,000. That’s 15 per cent more than the asking price.”

Despite the increased sales prices, Dummitt says he advises people to list their property at a reasonable price to encourage multiple offers.

“Very rarely do you get a property that doesn’t have competing offers on it, anywhere from three to 15 offers.”

Homes are also selling faster than they have in the past.

For instance, homes in St. Catharines were on the market an average of 28 days before they were sold, compared to 40 days in 2015. And in Welland, the average home sold in 33 days — 18 days less than a year earlier.

Dummitt says he has heard stories of people selling their homes within hours of listing them at above the asking price, but he advises people against doing so.

“Yeah, you could sell it within hours, but if you wait a couple of days you might get more money for it.”

He says the majority of people taking advantage of the soaring property values are those who are “cashing out and retiring.”

“If you’re in a big four-bedroom house and your kids are all gone, by all means cash it out and grab a nice light lease or a condo or something and spend your money,” he says.

But because of the increasing prices, Dummitt says, “there doesn’t seem to be a lot of upgrading going on.”

People are instead holding on to the homes they have.

“It costs just as much to upgrade as it does for the equity that you’re getting,” he says.

Twitter: @abenner1

Average sale prices in Niagara

Fort Erie: 2016 – $270,935; 2015 – $233,112

Pelham: 2016 – $461,127; 2015 – $403,110

Lincoln: 2016 – $419,923; 2015 – $365,112

Niagara Falls: 2016 – $324,387; 2015 – $264,327

NOTL: 2016 – $620,419; 2015 – $504,416

Port Colborne/Wainfleet: 2016 – $264,404; 2015 – $220,328

St. Catharines: 2016 – $299,182; 2015 – $254,645

Thorold: 2016 – $298,210; 2015 – $240, 255

Welland: 2016 – $237,880; 2015 – $217,658

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