Those looking for a luxury home in the greater St. John’s area (GSA) are doing so in a market that’s showing steady strength, based on results from a report released Wednesday by RE/MAX.
Through the first-quarter of 2012, 16 units were purchased for a price exceeding $500,000, down slightly from figures for 2010 (17) and 2011 (18), but still well ahead of first-quarter sales in 2007 (one), 2008 (four), and 2009 (six).
“You’ve got a lot of different factors that are contributing to the upper-end (sales),” said RE/MAX realtor Jim Burton.
Low interest rates across Canada have benefited sales, he said. But for the GSA, Burton said major projects happening all over the province are attracting new people looking for accommodations similar to what they were accustomed to in their last place of residence.
“We’ve experiencing population growth. We’re experiencing income growth, and employment growth. Those things all add to that great thing you’re feeling in your belly called the consumer confidence.”
The move-up market for people looking to sell a home in order to move into a larger one has also benefited as a result, Burton said.
The report says the average price for upper-end properties in the GSA has climbed to $602,360 in the detached category, almost a three per cent increase over the previous figure of $585,451.
Luxury condominium sales were up for the first-quarter, jumping from one sale in the previous year’s first-quarter to six in 2012, with the average price rising by more than $100,000 to almost $690,000.
The demand for luxury condominiums and homes costing more than $1 million outstrips supply at the moment, according to Burton. The report identified four such condominiums and three homes costing in excess of $1 million.
“We don’t have enough inventory to meet the demand for upper-end properties, and we’re having difficulty finding listings,” he said.
However, none of the most expensive homes sold in the first three months of 2012 exceeded the $1-million price tag, with the largest sale coming from a Place Bonaventure condominium at $840,000.
In December, a 3,000-square-foot contemporary bungalow sold for $1.55 million.
On the lower end of the luxury housing market, the report found 71 listings available for sale in the $500,000-$600,000 price range.
“You may see those in areas such as throughout Paradise, Conception Bay South and into the east end. There’s no one area that has more than others.”
While St. John’s is among the oldest cities in North America, Burton notes that 30 per cent of its housing stock consists of new units built since 1990.
“We’ve had amazing growth over the last couple of decades, and it continues.”
Moving forward, Burton expects the GSA’s real estate market to remain strong as more people move into the area, though buyers may not welcome the news of continued price appreciation.