Home prices continue to climb in a local market characterized by few listings and more realtors than ever vying for work.
Sarnia-Lambton had just 60 active listings in December, down 46% from a year earlier when 111 properties were listed. Many previous Decembers have seen 300 to 400 listings, said Rob Longo, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board.
“It’s tough, but we’re optimistic there will be steady growth in 2022.”
Meanwhile, Sarnia-Lambton now has 300 licensed real estate agents, up from 230 at the start of the pandemic.
“The fact of the matter is it’s tough for a lot of realtors,” said Longo.
Most homes sell within eight days and typically for 107% of the asking price. Last year at this time, houses sold for an average of 102% of the asking price, suggesting market competitiveness continues to intensify.
The median sale price of a residential home in 2021 was $440,000, up 25% in just one year, Longo said.
But that’s still considerably lower than the median price of homes in the London area. Local buyers pay an average $200,000 less for similar properties in London, Strathroy and Grand Bend, he said.
“I know a lot wish the median price in Sarnia was higher, but $440,000 is more affordable and means Sarnia-Lambton can offer a good price point compared to many other communities in Southwestern Ontario.”
That continues to attract buyers from the GTA looking for a good deal and attractive lifestyle, said Longo.
The key to getting more houses on the market is new development, he said, adding he’s optimistic with new subdivisions coming on this spring and summer in Sarnia’s Rapids Parkway, Camlachie, Errol Village and Petrolia.
“New home inventory is what’s going to drive the market.”
New homes that typically sell for $700,000 to $800,000 free up more affordable housing when people move from their older or smaller homes, he said.
“The bottom line is we need 400 to 500 new units on the market.”
Despite limited inventory, Sarnia-Lambton posted a record sales volume of $959 million in 2021, far surpassing sales of $731 million in 2020.
While activity was fairly flat – up just 4% – the dollar volume jumped 30% because of increased housing prices.