By Lisa Gervais
As a second wave of COVID-19 hits urban Ontario, Haliburton County’s real estate industry continues to boom with buyers wanting space outside of cities.
It’s a trend that has seen realtors reporting record summers with indications the fall will be just as brisk.
“It was a pretty slow start to the year but as the months progressed, the real estate market in Haliburton became busier and busier,” said Linda Baumgartner, broker of record with RE/MAX Professionals North. “It has been the busiest summer I have experienced in the 32 years I’ve been in the business.”
Anthony vanLieshout, broker of record with Royal LePage Lakes of Haliburton, added that in his 35 years, “this is as good as it’s got from a seller’s perspective.”
Hilary Morrin, salesperson with EXP Realty Brokerage, added she’s having an “excellent 2020.” Seeing a marked increase in buyers looking for property in The Highlands, from vacant lots, to businesses, to homes, condos and cottages.
The three said they’ve had huge numbers coming to showings and multiple offers above asking price and market value.
vanLieshout said in the case of cottages, a lot of people have said they love the idea of owning one, but it’s a lot of work and commitment so some have opted not to buy in the past.
“All of a sudden, they’re saying ‘geez, it would be nice to have a place to get away from the city, a place to escape and just feel safe and secure in a smaller community. I think people are into protection mode,” he said of 2020.
Morrin added people are not spending money on travel, so she’s seen an increase in the timeline to purchase a second property and be able to spend time with family at a cottage and in the lake right now.
“More and more people want out of the city,” Baumgartner agreed. “There is a huge sense of urgency and the consumers are demanding immediate responses. They want to find a cottage and they want it yesterday.”
The challenges have been a dearth of stock, since it’s in such demand, and the rigorous cleaning having to be done at open houses, the three said.
“I generally carry a large inventory but with the high buyer demand they are selling off the shelf,” Baumgartner said.
She added the new protocols to protect themselves and clients have changed the way they deal with clients.
“We spend a good portion of our time when showing a property disinfecting and making sure we leave the houses and cottages as we found them. Before COVID, we focussed 100 per cent of our time engaging with our clients.”
All three said another trend is that buyers are looking for reliable internet so that they can work from the cottage.
vanLieshoust said he now puts internet download and upload speeds on his listings. Morrin added that both cell phone coverage and internet speed and service are a huge criteria for buyers.
vanLieshoust said the only comparable boom was in 2000-2007. He said eventually the market will stabilize.
“After every boom there is usually a bust or a correction in the market,” Baumgartner said. “The bubble has to burst at some point. We are seeing many properties selling for well over asking price and well over market value. Some of these purchasers may have to sell for unfortunate reasons in the not to distant future, such as health or finances. The question we as realtors ask is ‘are we going to be able to sell their homes and cottages for what they paid for it’?”
Morrin said the bust or correction won’t be coming any time soon.
“With the second wave of COVID, I predict we will see more of the same reaction. People not travelling and therefore investing those dollars in a second property. People are seeking space.”