Pandemic ignites Queens County housing market

COVID-19 has spurred home sales in Queens. Photo by Ed Halverson.
Ed Halverson - QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 14-01-2021

A hot housing market in Queens shows no signs of slowing down.

Kristopher Snarby, owner of Exit Realty in Liverpool and Bridgewater, says the pandemic created a wild ride for sellers and buyers alike.

“It’s been a crazy year in a lot of ways. We started off, pretty normal winter, last January, February, March and then the pandemic hit and things slowed down for the early spring. Then May and June came and things really took off,” said Snarby.

According to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, 13,923 homes were sold in 2020, a 13 per cent increase over 2019.

Snarby says Nova Scotia and the South Shore in particular have been getting a lot of attention from buyers outside the province.

“We just saw a lot of people from Ontario wanting to get out. Partly because of COVID,but also partly because they want a slower pace of life and the real estate prices here are so much cheaper,” said Snarby. “So we found a lot of people were choosing to sell their properties in Ontario and then buy something here, equally nice or nicer, at a fraction of the cost.”

That attention has gobbled up the inventory of available housing.

Snarby says many of those buying from Ontario are doing so without ever setting foot in the home before signing. Buyers will arrange to either have a friend look at the property or view it virtually through online videos. Snarby estimates he has sold 25 homes since May in this manner.

Because of the increase in demand, Snarby says he’s had to be proactive in finding homes for buyers.

“I’ve been making calls to people who I know who have been thinking of selling. I’ve been putting calls out on Facebook. A lot of our agents have been doing the same thing and through that we have had some people say, yeah, I’d like to sell,” said Snarby. “But the big challenge for them though, is that, a lot of times, there’s nothing for them to go to.”

Snarby says savvy sellers are watching the market for the home they want to become available before listing their houses.

When they do manage to find the right place, they’re paying 10 to 15 per cent more than last year.

“It used to be that you could get a decent house in Queens County for $100,000 to $125,000. I would say, now you’re looking in the $150,000 to $200,000 range for the same kind of house,” said Snarby.

That’s consistent with the trends in selling prices across Nova Scotia. While that jump in price may cause sticker shock for locals, Snarby says Nova Scotia still isn’t seeing the drastic swings in prices experienced by other parts of the country.

“We’re not even close to the Toronto and the Vancouvers. You can’t get anything in Toronto for under seven-eight hundred thousand dollars. We’re definitely not there,” said Snarby.

He expects the hot housing market will continue into 2021.

“I think the secret of South Shore is out,” said Snarby. “I think people realize that we live in a great area with a lot to offer, close to the city but still that slower pace of life, it’s affordable, people are friendly.

Snarby suggests now may be the time for anyone looking to sell to put their home on the market.

“The thing right now is there’s still buyers out there who can’t find homes and there’s not much on the market. So right now, if you were to list a property, you don’t have a lot of competition. In the spring, you’re going to have more competition.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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