When Sean Simpson and Amie Debrone put in an offer on a Kitchener home earlier this year, they lost out when it sold for more than 10 per cent over asking.
“That was our first taste of disappointment,” said Simpson, vice-president at market research firm Ipsos. “We knew we were in for a challenge.”
At a second home, they lost out by $10,000 to an unconditional offer. At a third, they bid 11 per cent over asking, certain they were coming in with a strong offer. Well, so did 18 other buyers — the winning bid was $100,000 more than Simpson and Debrone’s.
Think they just had a string of bad luck? Think again.
“It’s absolutely wild,” said Joy Stewart, a sales representative with Peak Realty in Waterloo. “The offer date comes and there are 20-something offers … Every property is getting multiple offers, even ones that need a lot of work.”
In some cases, asking prices are irrelevant if they’re intentionally low to spark a bidding war, Stewart noted.
Home sales in Kitchener and Waterloo set a record last month, with the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors reporting 686 transactions — the most ever recorded for the month of August. Sales were up 48 per cent compared to August, 2019; the previous 10-year average for August sales was 470.
“Waterloo Region has had an extremely hot market all summer,” association president Colleen Koehler said in a release. “Following a spring market where most people were observing physical distancing guidelines, sales in August continued to be very active with demand continuing to outstrip supply forcing buyers to act quickly.”
Sales volume was even higher in a record-setting July, when 734 homes changed hands. Although 833 homes were listed on the Kitchener-Waterloo association’s Multiple Listing Service last month — an increase of nearly 44 per cent over August, 2019 — inventory remains quite low.
Simpson and Debrone, an actor and voice teacher, managed to land a detached home in downtown Kitchener just this week — for slightly under asking, no less. Not 10 minutes after their offer was accepted, the sky cleared and a rainbow arched over their new home. “It was so cheesy,” laughed Debrone.
They had been close to giving up, resigned to staying in the downtown apartment they’ve lived in for 13 years. “Acting very quickly helped us secure a favourable deal,” Simpson said.
Stewart said a lot of buyers are heading west from the Greater Toronto Area into Waterloo Region, where they can get more for their money. “They’re able to have more space, a home with a yard instead of a condo.”
Work-from-home arrangements and a desire to be out of a larger city if another COVID-19 lockdown occurs are helping to spur the exodus.
Local house prices continue to show impressive year-over-year gains, with the average price for all residential properties rising 21 per cent last month to $634,409. Detached homes averaged $734,427 last month, an increase of nearly 19 per cent over last year’s figure.
These prices retracted slightly from July’s results, when the average for all properties was reported at $639,814, and detached homes sold for an average of $745,149.
The median price of all residential properties sold last month was $597,955, an increase of 20.8 per cent over August, 2019, while the median price for a detached home rose 17.4 per cent, to $675,000. Waterloo Region still comes across as a bargain to buyers from the GTA, where the average price for all types of homes was $951,404 last month. Detached homes averaged $1,172,880.
Having experienced the ups and downs of a house hunt, Simpson has some advice to prospective buyers. “Be patient, and the house will find you. It’s cliché to say it, but the right one will come along,” he said. “When it does, move extremely quickly. You almost don’t have time to think.”