Realtors optimistic for market in 2021

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Sales of real estate and property surged upward despite the economic downturn elevated by the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic.

Several realtors who serve the Peace River, Falher and High Prairie regions remain optimistic that the market will continue to show more positive signs in 2021.

Misty Gaudet opened Grassroots Realty office in High Prairie as an associate broker Sept. 1 after many years in local real estate.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate has been unpredictably busy,” she says.

One particular type of property has recorded a sharp rise in sales.

“There has been a boost in recreation properties at local lakes,” Gaudet says.

“I’ve spent more time at local lakes in the past four months than I have in my entire career.”

She says mostly people from Peace River and Grande Prairie are buying property along Lesser Slave Lake, Snipe Lake and Winagami Lake, which is good for the local economy.

“I think people are not travelling as much in the pandemic and people are looking for way to spend their winter vacation time and money,” Gaudet says.

Peace River realtor Layne Gardner predicts the growth of the real estate market will strengthen.

“Stabilization in prices is likely and sales growth over 2020 is also predicted,” says Gardner, an associate with Re/Max Northern Realty.

“By the end of the year, sales had mostly rebounded enough to erase the earlier deficit.”

In fact, sales in December were some of the strongest the Peace River Re/Max office has witnessed in years.

“It is safe to assume that much of what happened in the latter part of 2020 will continue into 2021,” Gardner says.

“As vaccines continue to rollout and restrictions are lifted, consumers are likely to be active in real estate which will keep the strength of the market going.”

High Prairie realtors Debbie Nelson and Gordon Olson share that optimistic outlook.

“My prediction for the 2021 market is mixed,” says Nelson, Royal LePage PVR Realty broker-owner.

“As long as interest rates stay low, then there is still a strong incentive for buyers.

“But on the negative side, lack of employment will dictate whether there is the financial capability to buy.”

Olson is broker-owner of Century 21 Sunnyside Realty.

“It should be a good year for real estate,” says Olson.

“We have reasonable employment in High Prairie, 2020 was a pretty good year and early activity is modest where frequently we would still be in the winter sales doldrums.”

He predicts the pandemic will boost real estate.

“The COVID factor wasn’t much of a negative, possibly more of a positive with people spending more time at home and spending less money in general,” Olson says.

“It may have help people afford new homes.”

Residential faired best for sure, he says.

Commercial was slower for obvious reasons.

However, new retail and food businesses opened in 2020, he notes.

“It shows some confidence from investors in our local economy,” Olson says.

He credits the forest industry for the stable economy.

“I think most communities did pretty well, High Prairie possibly better than others, with significant employment in the forestry industry,” Olson says.

“We’ve done better than other communities that are more oil and gas dependent.

We can’t really say enough positive comments about our local forestry industry.

“They continue to be the lifeblood of our community.”

The 2020 market was an improvement from the 2019 market and notably in the residential sector, Nelson says.

“With the onset of COVID-19, that was not expected but the low interest rates offset the effects of this and was an incentive for the buyers,” Nelson says.

Residential sales were brisk in the range from $100,000-$375,000 range but not as much in the higher range.

Little activity was recorded in the farm, acreage and commercial markets.

“But as we head into the 2021 market, we are noticing more attention to those as well,” Nelson says.

There was very little action in the McLennan, Falher, Donnelly areas in 2020 due to lack of employment in the area.

Real estate experienced a “roller coaster of a year” in 2020, Gardner says.

“We experienced a strong start only to see it derailed in early spring by the introduction of COVID-19,” Gardner says.

The initial lockdown had a dramatic effect on sales as Peace River and area experienced a decrease in sales of almost 50 per cent compared to 2019.

“Once restrictions began to lift, sales picked up as much of the pent-up demand from the usually busy spring market spilled over into summer and early fall, Gardner says.

Year over year, Peace River experienced a 12 per cent decrease in sales while the area included in and around Peace River saw sales increase year over year by just under one per cent.

Prices took a small hit from before COVID to after with certain segments of the market, particularly the higher priced inventory, suffering a bit more as people were less likely to take on larger mortgages with the economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Prices have since rebounded as inventory levels stayed low as people were reluctant to list their homes with the risk of exposure.

“Low interest rates have also helped to support the strength in the market along with consumers’ desires to upgrade or make a change,” Gardner says.

He suggests that may be attributed to too much time spent in an existing home that no longer suits their needs.

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