2020: The year of COVID-19
The year began as many do with a slow start, picking up as February and March roll around. This was a different year though, as we came to realize. COVID-19 reared it’s head and by mid-March businesses and employees were becoming affected in ways no one expected. As March, April and May progressed, real estate was almost at a standstill. Then came June and what a change. The flood gates opened! We all know what happened next. Lots of buyers, not as many sellers, more than one offer at a time, waiting to entertain offers because there was so much interest.
This carried on into 2021 and, if it is possible, became increasingly evident. There were fewer listings than we had ever seen and people wanted to move closer to relatives, out of the city, to lower priced markets and so on.
Important information about Comox Valley real estate:
The following information is from end-of-year 2020 statistics and supports the overall decline in sales numbers as a result of fewer people selling and, therefore less available to purchase. It also reflects a general reduction in activity due to government strategies aimed at cooling the real estate market – from the B-20 stress test for financing, foreign buyer’s tax which is not applicable in this area yet but does have some impact, constant threats of increased interest rates along with other measures.
- This past year in real estate (2020) ended much as it began with more buyers than sellers. It is very different from anything I remember over the life of my 33-year real estate career. We saw fewer listings, taking less time to sell, more people wanting to buy, multiple offers on most properties, and rising prices.
- The average price of single-family homes was on the rise in 2019 and that trend continued throughout 2020, beginning at about $580,000 in January and finishing out the year at $632,000. Total number of single-family sales in all price ranges was down from just 850 to 778 between 2019 and 2020.
- By far the most active price ranges for homes are between $450,000 and $800,000, accounting for 78% of the total market with $400,000 to $450,000 and $800,000 to $1,000,000 encompassing another 17% of the sales;
Infill, subdivision, and new construction in Courtenay
- As usual, the majority of all single-family sales in our area occur in Comox, but there has been a shift with the City of Courtenay now moving ahead of East Courtenay (which has historically been second to Comox). Sales in Comox, at just over 26% of the total market, amounted to 204 in total for the year, up from a 20% market share in 2019. With infill, subdivision, and new construction in Courtenay City, sales sat at 22% with 172 of total area sales and East Courtenay moving down slightly from 2019 at 16.9% or 132 sales.
- Due to new homes being built and more lots coming on the market in Cumberland, it has picked up 1% of that market change now sitting at just under 9% of the total number of sales with 70 in 2020. Also of interest is that Cumberland prices are now in line with the rest of the municipalities in the Comox Valley as far as sale prices with the majority of them between $450,000 and $700,000. With home sales in Crown Isle at 72 in 2020, that is double what they were in 2019 and it looks like what has happened there is that all other areas have caught up to Crown Isle pricing where the bulk of the market was between $600,000 and $900,000 There is a wide range of sales numbers and prices in all other areas that has, interestingly, decreased from the previous year to almost 15% of the local sales market from 30% in 2019. It appears that buyers preferred to live in town in 2020 by quite a wide margin which would account for the bigger numbers in urban areas.
Rural areas in Comox Valley Real Estate
- In the rural areas – outside Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland – there was quite a change last year with the number of sales on the Comox Peninsula and Courtenay North, Courtenay South, Courtenay West, and Union Bay/Fanny Bay tallying just half the sales of the previous year. Two other notable mentions are Merville/Black Creek and Mt. Washington. In the case of Merville/Black Creek, sales dropped last year by more than 30% and Mt. Washington sales figures increased by over 40%.
- Interestingly in 2019, 66% of what was listed was sold, and in 2020 that increased to 88% which is similar to the 2017 market and still much better than other previous years. At this moment it is very much a sellers’ market because of low inventory and huge demand – in part because of COVID-19, it seems.
- As always, buyers are particular about what they will buy and what they are prepared to pay for it, but they will pay based on their experience which has elevated sales prices much to some buyers’ consternation.
Apartments and Condos in Comox Valley
- The Comox Valley condominium market remains strong with most listings being apartment-style, but the best prices realized are for patio or townhomes. Of note is that there were almost as many patio and townhome sales in 2020 as in 2019 and of apartment-style condos too, along with increased prices. All are being built even though the time from inception to realization is still of concern to developers and there are more rental apartments under construction now too. Townhouse sales have been good and they, along with the single-family market, have seen considerable increases in sale prices. They continue to be a preference for certain buyers because of the built-in maintenance and affordability while providing good living space in comparison to the single-family home price, age, and size.
- The lot market has picked up with some subdivisions taking place in Courtenay, Cumberland, and Crown Isle primarily. While there were 175 active listings, up only a little from 163 in 2019, there were twice the sales over the past year with the average price at about $334,000. The lack of affordable development property is a factor and has led to the majority of subdivisions being bought up by builders. The increase in initial price, infrastructure, and building costs has pushed up the cost of new construction as well.
- To summarize, the most active price ranges up to the end of December are now $450,000 to $800,000. There were a significant number of people, 604 or almost 78% of total sales, who sold their homes between $450,000 and $800,000, and only 85 sales over $800,000. That includes less sales than in 2019 over $1M down from 41 to 26.