As temperatures are beginning to edge back above the freezing mark and our days are getting longer, we’re finally in the home stretch of this year’s long pandemic winter.  While it hasn’t been an easy season for many of us, perhaps for no group is this truer than those folks who have been trying to get a foot in the door of the local housing market.

Competition among buyers has been fierce all year, as available inventory was no match for surging demand from both within Waterloo Region and farther afield.  But the impact of this imbalance in the market has really made itself felt in these opening weeks of 2021, and the latest sales statistics released yesterday by KWAR (Kitchener Waterloo Association of Realtors) simply beggar belief.  So, let’s get right into the numbers before we turn our attention to something a little lighter.

For the first time in history, the average sale price of a detached home in Kitchener-Waterloo smashed through the $900K mark – standing as of the end of February at $910,126.  For anyone keeping score, that’s a gain of more than 35% since the same time last year.  While there’s no doubt that this reflects an extremely lopsided seller’s market across all tiers of homes, we should keep in mind that the high-end luxury segment is performing very well now, and sales at rarified price points have had an impact on this average.  Just this past week, a Realtor with Chestnut Park West sold a listing priced at $2M in under a week and above-asking.  This pace of movement in the luxury market was nearly unheard of in Kitchener-Waterloo in previous years.

The good news for homeowners in more down-to-earth price points is that property values are surging across the board, with the average sale price of all property types in February coming in at $752,289 – a number itself representing a gain of over 32% in the past 12 months.  Even the condo market has been benefiting from the recent frenzy of buyer activity, seeing a rise of nearly 12% in average sale prices since early 2020.  The average price of an apartment-style unit in Kitchener-Waterloo is now more than $415K, even as more towers crowd the skyline and new inventory becomes available.

Metrics were up universally, even aside from average sales statistics.  Nearly 600 homes changed hands in Kitchener-Waterloo last month, an incredible volume for what is typically a slower time of year.  For comparison’s sake, the 10-year average for the month of February is just over 400 – the difference is marked.  In spite of the overall pace of activity, the sheer imbalance of active buyers versus available inventory is ensuring that what homes do come to market move extremely quickly; at an average of only 10 days on market.  And, to give you some concept of the sparsity of available supply, the total number of homes actively available for purchase as of February 28th was just 295 in all of Kitchener-Waterloo.  This number is down by over 33% from last year, and down by a whopping 73% from the 10-year average.

So, all-in-all, it remains a very tough time to be a buyer, but a very, very good time to be a seller.

To wrap up today’s post, I’d like to give a special shout out to Darryl Watty, a good friend, colleague here at CPW and fellow sponsor of this year’s 10th Annual Winter Warmer to benefit the Alzheimer’s Society of Waterloo Wellington.  Darryl has been instrumental in organizing this fundraiser since its inception, and it’s something I look forward to participating in every March.  Last year’s event was unfortunately cancelled amid the upheaval of the pandemic, but this year the organizing committee made things work virtually and in great style.

A representative from The Macallan, one of Scotland’s most storied distillers of single malt whisky, joined our assembled remote audience to guide us through the tasting of four exceptional malts.  With an accompanying virtual auction, charcuterie put together by Bingeman’s and hosting by Mike Farwell of 570 News, we made the most of our circumstances and had a great evening!  I’ve been proud to sponsor this event for several years now, and am looking forward to next year’s event when we’ll be able to gather once again in person!

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