A bank report recently flagged Kingston real estate as overvalued, and ripe for a 10 per cent correction over the next few years. Not everyone is convinced. But there might be some areas heading for a price pull-back, after a few pretty solid years.
Here are some neighborhood profiles. Find yours.....
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The Queen’s Area –South of Johnson is proving to be a bit unruly for property owners.
With both Queen’s and St. Lawrence expanding enrolment by two per cent a year, and neither campus providing any additional housing, the housing pressure is on for surrounding neighborhoods.
This year February-March saw a frenzy in the sale of student rentals near Queen’s – multiple bidding and sales well above asking. The guess is more investors and wealthy parents are looking at the low stock market returns and deciding real estate is a better place to park capital. However, I've been told that some of these high-priced deals failed because the banks refused to finance them, based on appraisals suggesting the sale prices exceeded market value.
But after that passed, the Queen’s market for pricier offerings suddenly tanked in April with an average sale price for the month of $289,000, compared to more than $550,000 in April 2011.
It bounced back somewhat in May, with an average sold price for the month of $340,500, but that figure is nine per cent lower than the sale average in May 2011.
Keeping in mind the economist's report predicting a price correction, it is worth noting trends in the Queen’s area. After marking an average 10 per cent a year increase in 2009 and 2010, the area has managed only a 2.5 per cent increase in property values in the past 12 months - below the city average. There are just as many sales as last year at this time, but buyers are picking up the cheaper offerings.
Many families may also be rethinking their attachment to this area, as it struggles not only with the impact of increased student rentals, but the possible closure of the neighborhood high school, KCVI. These factors may by contributing to the uneven performance here.
The area east of the Cataraqui River, and north of CFB Kingston continues to have a tough slog with too many homes in the market and somewhat lower sales.
By this time last year, a healthy 75 per cent of listed homes had sold. This year, buyers have purchased only 53 per cent of market inventory.
Sales in the east end did pick up well in May. But it remains a buyers market. The average sale price for a home slipped in the month of May by four per cent compared to homes sold last May.
Meanwhile, prices are bouncing around out in the upscale east-end neighborhoods along Highway 2 and past Milton. After roaring ahead with a 32 per cent increase in home prices in 2011, in the past 12-month period home prices along the shore have dropped 25 per cent. Very few homes are currently selling above $500,000. Last year, the average price of homes sold during May 2011 was $534,000. In May 2012, the average was $297,000.
What's going on here? My guess is that high-end homeowners with more exposure to stock markets, are prone to noticeable changes in confidence that impact this real estate sector.
The Williamsville-Kingscourt-Inner Harbour area continues to be a steady attraction for owners/investors wanting convenient downtown location. Despite a substantial jump in the number of listings compared to last year, sales have kept pretty close to last year’s pace. Increase in home prices has been modest at two per cent, as buyers have had more to choose from
Some of the Queen’s-area buying energy also went west into Portsmouth District, where there were bargains to be had by comparison.
The investors have been busy this spring, and they have been taking a closer look at Portsmouth, buying up a number of properties particularly in the area close to St. Lawrence, and along Johnson/Queen Mary Road. The area has experienced an average increase in home value, but the number of sales is up substantially. Many sellers are long-time residents and the dated homes on offer may limit neighborhood appreciation.
Strathcona Park saw prices rise six per cent and sold 80 per cent of its listed inventory in the past 12 months - higher than any other Kingston neighborhood. There is real demand here, but the listings have been limited. If your a homeowner here and thinking of selling, the stars are aligned in your favor.
This area continues to attract economy-minded home buyers. Sales continue to be steady the past few years with about 60 per cent of market inventory finding buyers, and a healthy six per cent jump in average sale prices.
But even with this jump, Rideau Heights is still the only city neighborhood where the average sale price is still under $200,000 ($197,000).
The neighborhood has had its share of bad press in the past, and has endured the cultural snub of the rest of the city. But it has benefited from many new initiatives and programs. Although the percentage of rentals is substantial in much of the neighborhood, in the area north of Conacher Drive, known as Markers Acres, owners occupy more than 60 per cent of homes, and household income is twice that of the area south of Conacher.
New jobs and amenities are also flooding into this area with the increasing investment in the retail hub at Division and Dalton, and it could improve the fortunes of this overlooked neighborhood even more.
With a new grocery store, Canadian Tire, outlet clothing centre, new restaurants, and soon, a new 10-screen cinema including an IMAX theatre, there’s lots to see and do in Rideau Heights. Feels like there's an uptick underway here.
Prices in Kingston West have also been appreciating solidly so far this year in the neighborhoods west of Gardiners/Days Roads, by 6-7 per cent over last year, and with slightly more inventory selling than last year at this time. Nothing to complain about here except the shadow cast by that economist's report. Is it getting too good to sustain out here?
Kingston North of 401 is showing the true cyclical pattern of real estate. The area is bouncing back after a down year in 2011, with double the number of sales, and an average price increase of nine per cent, recovering exactly what it lost in value last year.
Just don’t think you get country cheap this close to the city. The average sale price out here is $308,000.