The Kingston real estate market took a good bounce in August after a year so far known more for being hard on property sellers vying for dollars in a sea of listings.
Sales were up a substantial 13 per cent over even last year’s healthy numbers.
It looks as if buyers are taking advantage of late summer bargaining power in a summer of slower sales and anxious sellers.
But the figures also speak to the enduring cyclical nature of real estate. If an area has slow sales and stagnant prices, an uptick may be coming as buyers smell leverage.
The trick is determining the length of a cycle and when the tide is about to turn, so that, as a buyer or seller, you can ride the momentum.
Some areas of Kingston have more stable price patterns than others.
For example, East Kingston neighborhoods off Highway 15 are very consistent performers, due to the military influence and some very desirable riverside communities. Although it may have artificially slow or hot sales periods due to the timing of military postings, this market is a very reliable performer that has consistently managed annual price appreciation of four to six per cent over the past four years, and is appears set to manage four per cent this year.
By comparison, the prime south of Johnson/Queen’s area, sees much more volatility. It’s having a good year, with the highest price appreciation in the city at close to nine per cent. But this is partly because it fell on its face last year and only managed one per cent. The current number of listings is average, yet sales in August were particularly strong, and if someone was thinking of listing property in this area, now would be a good time, given the momentum seen here.
The Inner Harbour/Williamsville/Kingscourt area has followed a similar pattern to Johnson/Queen’s with somewhat less volatility. A flood of listings here last year kept prices realistic, but listings aren’t too numerous and this market area is still showing good strength heading into fall, with a very respectable five per cent price appreciation so far. Still a good time to list in these neighborhoods.
The older midtown neighborhoods of Polson Park and Calvin Park had a hot year in 2012, which absorbed much of the demand. Listings have increased by 25 per cent this year and market performance has been average. Price appreciation for this 60s era housing stock is usually in the modest range of one to three per cent a year. After a slump in July, this market has picked up.
Strathcona Park continues to be in a class by itself. Listings are almost double what they were at this time last year, and properties are taking more than twice as long to sell as last year (when they were selling faster than anywhere else in the city).
Sales have been fewer, yet prices have jumped almost nine per cent in 2013. It seems that buyers are skimming the cream off the top here.
West Kingston had a sluggish first six months with numerous listings, slow sales, and price appreciation in most neighborhoods barely managing one per cent. The bargain hunters swooped in to pump up August sales and drive some rising air under prices. Most areas are seeing prices up by a reasonable 2-2.5 per cent.
As was the case last quarter, though more pronounced now, is the performance of the neighborhoods south of Taylor-Kidd - fertile ground for bargain hunters with an average price $30,000 less than homes north of Taylor-Kidd. Sales are brisk compared to last year, and it currently has the highest price appreciation in west Kingston at five per cent.
The market in Southwest Kingston is also showing cyclical tendencies after a strong showing and good price appreciation last year. With similar listing and sales numbers, price appreciation has slowed to barely one per cent after attaining five per cent last year.
The areas which appear to be currently in a much longer-term cycle are the islands – Howe, Amherst and Wolfe and the Thousand Islands, where American money has always been a factor. Problems in the U.S. economy, plus recent low water levels are creating a perfect storm for this real estate market. If the trend continues, island waterfront prices will have dropped by 30 per cent in the last two years.
Despite the slower market, the overall average sale price for the urban areas of Kingston (south of 401 and including Amherstview) is still up three per cent so far this year, to $302,000.
Please note however, that the Kingston and Area Real Estate Board bases its average sale price figure on its whole district which stretches from Deseronto to Plevna to Gananoque and this figure is substantially lower, currently at the $286,000 mark.