Just in case you’re not tired of hearing it for the last couple of years, the province is in the throes of a recession driven largely by a sharp decline in oil prices since 2014.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Canada’s largest real estate company from opening its second new firm in Newfoundland and Labrador in the last 12 months.
“People sometimes ask me, ‘Why are you opening a new office when the economy’s contracting?’ I say, ‘That’s one of the best times,’” says Royal LePage president Phil Soper, who was in town for the grand opening of Royal LePage Vision Realty, located on Olympic Drive in Mount Pearl and operated by owner and broker Joe Fleming.
“You don’t have the same competition for new office space, prices are a little cheaper, you can get the trades to do your building, and you can gain that market share for when recovery occurs.”
Soper and Royal LePage are confident it will occur, and figure to position themselves competitively for when it does.
“We think long term, and in the long term we’re bullish on St. John’s,” says Soper.
“What really remains to be seen and what will drive population increases and significant new demand for housing is when there’s new capital investment into the energy sector and not the focus on producing already developed fields.”
Soper says the market is flat, but that also means it’s stable.
“When prices are relatively flat or up a couple of percentage points, it’s actually good for buyers and, if the seller prices the market and is patient and has good representation, the product will sell,” he said.
What’s more, the market hasn’t been flooded by new homes.
“Builders have been very conservative since the recession, so we don’t have gluts of houses that are coming onto the market that will make it difficult for current homeowners to sell.”