Home price increases fuel record real estate year for Sarnia area

Rising house prices sent the Sarnia area’s real estate market above the $700 million mark in total sales volume in 2020, says the president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board.

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Rising house prices sent the Sarnia area’s real estate market above the $700-million mark in total sales volume in 2020, says the new president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board.

The more than $733 million in total sales in Sarnia and the rest of Lambton County was a record local sales volume and 21 per cent higher than 2019, according to the board’s year-end statistics.

“It was a pretty strong year for us, surprisingly, given everything that’s happened,” said incoming board president Rob Longo. “A lot of that has been buoyed by the price increases.”

The average local home price reached $403,620 by the end of 2019, which was up 19.9 per cent from the previous year.

“The total number of sales was basically flat” in 2020, so the increase in sales volume came from the increase in home prices, Longo said.

Rising home prices have been fuelled by “record low interest rates,” plus the local market is seeing “an influx of people from (the Greater Toronto Area), Kitchener and the bigger centres coming this way,” he said.

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Homebuyers drawn to the Sarnia area have been a mix of retirees and young families, “which is nice to see,” Longo said.

He said the market is seeing an “evolution” in homes from being a place owners spent time after work or school to one where often “your house is your school” and parents may work more from home.

That has changed the space and amenities families require, he said.

That has also led to buyers from other regions to look at the Sarnia area.

“If you’re able to work from home, why not do that from Sarnia where we think we’ve got a much better list of amenities and features,” along with lower home prices, Longo said.

The national average for home prices is about $650,000, he said.

The local market also had a “very low supply” of home listings, Longo said.

“We were down about nine per cent over last year … and last year was a low year,” he said. “Listings are definitely down but sales are still strong, which is a nice thing to see.”

Longo said there are several reasons for the low number of listings in the market, including the pandemic and its restrictions.

“We’ve moved to more essential sales and more people that have to make a move versus making an optional move,” he said.

With the provincial lockdown restrictions, open houses aren’t being held and agents have been limiting person-to-person contact and taking other precautions, Longo said.

Predictions for real estate in 2021 generally call for another strong year with a similar increase in prices and sales number, he said.