When long-time renters Kim and Steve Clarke, started the search for their first home, they were prepared with the impression that it would be a difficult process, what they didn’t expect was to have the first home they put an offer in on to be accepted.
The duo, who have an eight month old daughter, started the process of house hunting at the beginning of February. As first-time home buyers, Kim Clarke said the experience was an overwhelming and daunting one.
“I don’t entirely know what I expected,” said Kim. “Everyone sort of makes you feel like it’s going to be really hard to buy a house even though we’ve spent so long saving, and we feel that we’re in a good place to buy a house, everyone makes you feel like you’re going to have to settle and that you’re not going to get the house that you want because of the market.”
When they started looking at homes in the area, it became increasingly apparent how competitive the market is, as houses they looked at began to sell for $100,000 over asking price.
“We didn’t actually know how much houses were going over asking until we started looking with a realtor,” said Kim.
So, it was a surprise to them when the first home they put an offer in on, was accepted.
“When we put the offer in and it was accepted, we were in shock,” Kim tells the Free Press. “We were in disbelief, because of what we were told was going to happen, how difficult it was going to be and how we wouldn’t get something within our budget, and then we did get something we loved within our budget.”
Claire Knight, a relator and owner of Go With Crowe Real Estate, who worked with the couple to find their first home described their experience as a bit of an “anomaly”.
“It was the first time in a year that I wasn’t competing, that we paid list price and not over, and that we put in a condition – the absolute first time,” Knight tells the Free Press.
Although a stand out among home buying experiences in the last year, Knight says she expects to see more cases like the Clarke’s in the upcoming months as inventory of homes in town increases.
According to the Brampton Real Estate Board (BREB), inventory of houses in Dufferin County since 2020 have gone down by half, while the prices of houses have gone up over $100,000 from an average price of $604,241 (February 2020) to $770,476 (February 2021) .
“It’s 100 per cent a seller’s market, it has been and I think it will continue to be,” said Knight.
As of March 18, there are only eight listings for properties in the town available, a number that Knight says in extremely low.
“When we talk about Shelburne specifically as far as number of sales and number listings, usually we look at two to three times that amount at least,” she says. “Usually we’re looking at an inventory of at least 15 to 20 minimum, and that’s taking into account townhouses.”
There are a number of factors in the last year that have been attributed to the low inventory including the COVID-19 global pandemic, and weather.
One factor at play, Knight notes that she’s never seen in her 16 years as a realtor, is buyers being unable to find a house.
“Even when they find a house, they’re competing, and they have to pay way over what it’s truly worth; it’s discouraging people,” said Knight.
With snow completely or almost completely gone, warmer weather is on the way, and home owners watching houses sell for more, the housing inventory, as it does every year post-winter, is projected to increase.
“People have been looking at what’s happening in the market and they’re starting to get hungry, realizing they’re going to make good money on their house. I think we’re going to see a significant increase in inventory because people want to cash out.”
In all of this, Knight also points out the role that buyers have in the possible settling of housing prices.
“The buyers are getting smarter, they’re getting more cautious and they’re wanting to be protected with their financing,” said Knight.
As the housing market in Shelburne transitions with the arrival of spring, Knight’s advice is to sell now and buy later.
“My advice to buyers is just be patient, take your time, don’t panic or rush, they’re going to see that there’s a lot more options for them come a month from now.”
Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press