“We have a lot of people seeking to leave the city”

“A successful offer depends on buyers coming in with no conditions either on financing or on a home inspection”

Article by Al Rivett/above image (L-R) Kim Etherington & Sam Tkalec

As a Colborne-based realtor with over 30 years in the business, Kim Etherington has seen the highs and lows of the local real estate market. But, the market activity in the past nine months has been an eye-opener even for someone with her level of experience who shares a real estate business with Sam Tkalec which is known as “The Kim and Sam Team”.

In the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic which has, in turn, caused an economic downturn, the current real estate market gripping Northumberland County and Cramahe Township is fraught with high buyer demand, high house prices, low interest rates, and an extremely low inventory of homes. The upshot, says Etherington, is a ‘seller-focused market, with bidding wars being the rule rather than the exception.

“It makes no sense that the market is so active, but it’s driven by supply and demand, and we have a lot of people seeking to leave the city,” said Etherington who forms one half of the Kim and Sam Team under the Royal Heritage Realty Ltd. umbrella. “It’s such an unsettled market. We had a property not too long ago sell with 14 offers, which was crazy.”

Etherington said it’s typical for some properties in the $450,000 to $500,00 price range to go thousands of dollars over asking with multiple offers – sometimes upwards of 10 – presented to home sellers. 

The half-million price point of interest to many

“Certain price points are very hot. To enter the market as a first-time buyer at the $450,000 to $550,000 price point, (these homes) tend to get a lot of offers.”

And the current market conditions puts those looking to get into the housing market at a distinct disadvantage. Etherington said a successful offer depends on buyers coming in with no conditions either on financing or on a home inspection. 

“The unfortunate thing for buyers is that in order to be competitive they have to come in without conditions,” she said. “It’s very difficult to get a home with conditions. They don’t get the opportunity to do a home inspection and there is a risk with not going in firm on financing. Buyer should be well qualified before going to buy a home.

“Quite often it’s a series of letdowns over and over, so be prepared and realistic as a buyer, have finances and have deposit as high as it can be, and it has to be firm. You can’t have a laundry list of things. You have to be realistic.”

According to the Northumberland Hills Association of Realtors, which serves the Cramahe Township, 157 units were sold in March of 2021, which is an 86.9 per cent increase over March of 2020. Although a “notable increase” in new listings were added last month, the active listings of homes for sale “hovered only slightly above the lowest levels in history”.

The year-to-date average price for homes was $770,204, a jump of 33.1 per cent from the first three months of 2021, said the Northumberland Hills Association of Realtors website.

So what’s driving the housing demand in Northumberland and Cramahe?

Etherington said it’s those seeking to flee cities in the midst of the pandemic. 

“When I moved to Cramahe in 2014 I would have to go to Tim Hortons to send an offer,” said Etherington. “The Internet has now drastically changed for rural folks, With every company, necessity was the spark of invention, so everyone now has a template of how to work from home. People can now leave the city and the internet services (in the country) are at the point now they are able to accommodate it. Taking the pandemic out of the equation, people would prefer to live away from the city. People want more land, more privacy, so I think there has been a lot of shifting and changing in the last 12 months.”

For sellers, Etherington says it’s important to maximize the home’s curb appeal to potential buyers, and that means staging a home properly that’s on the market.

“We lean very heavily on stagings, we have our own staging company and supplies, we consider it just as important as a sign and an ad,” said Etherington. “Some homes difficult to work a selling plan. Going to do best we can do here, we’re going to make the house as good as we can. 

Etherington says a continual issue is some homes may have been renovated in the ‘90s or early 2000s, and sellers are not eager to see those honey oak cabinets painted white. 

“It’s not about what (the seller) likes, it’s really about creating a look to appeal to the highest number of buyers. We have fought people tooth and nail. We do get pushback on that one, painting wood trim white and honey oak cabinets white. It probably affects affect sale price $10,000 to $40,00, so if you want to leave $40,000 on the table, then let’s leave them honey oak.”

Etherington said she would like to see the real estate market return to some form of normalcy, with prices returning to a more sustainable level as well.

On one hand, Yay! but on the other…?

I think anyone — buyers, sellers and realtors — would like to see a more even market,” said Etherington. “When representing a seller, they get 10 offers and they’re super excited, pleased that they did well, but typically they have to buy a house on the other side.”


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