Slow start to LORDA syrup production
LANSDOWNE – Jim Crawford holds out a cup filled with a clear liquid. It doesn’t look like much – in fact it just looks like water.
TRENTON – Don Harpell is hoping the second time will be the charm for selling his home.
The Caribou man has listed his home for a second time on the real estate market, at $285,000, compared to $325,000 when he first listed last spring with Blinkhorn Real Estate.
He said the lower price is catching the attention of potential buyers, but he not sure if it’s enough to make the sale.
“I think if you aren’t in a hurry, you will find a buyer for a fair price for your home,” he said.
Harpell said his waterfront home, which includes 10 acres, has had some interest from western Canadians looking to move to a slower-paced eastern lifestyle.
“Back here it’s about pace and people and a little less about money,” he said. “There is more of a focus on people and the community.”
Harpell said he has done the usual work needed to sell a home, including home improvements, lowering the price and hosting open houses, and there has been interest, but no bites.
The ideal plan is to sell the home he has lived in for the past 11 years so he can travel and live a semi-retired life, but if this doesn’t happen soon, he is looking at other options.
He has considered renting his home or using it as a vacation rental site, but he would rather walk away from it knowing a new buyer is enjoying it as much as he has over the years.
“All I want to do is find the easiest out,” he said. “I would love to see the place go to someone who loves it as much as I do.”
Diane MacNeil, a broker/owner with Re/Max Newstyle Realty, said many Pictou County seniors are listing their homes because they are ready to downsize into an apartment. She also noted that homes listed between $50,000 and $100,000 are selling better than high-end homes.
According to MLS statistics for the month of July 2014, the average list price for the county was $158,455, but the average sale price was $61,216. This is compared to July 2013 when the average list price was $126,106, but average sold price was $119, 316.
“It a buyer’s market and it’s flooded with listings, but not many buyers,” she said.
David MacIvor, owner/broker of JF MacIvor Properties, said people have to be patient if they are going to sell their home.
He said sellers need to list their homes at a reasonable asking price and realize they could sit on their property for months.
MacIvor said he believes a few people are nervous with the state of the economy and are choosing to renovate their existing home rather than purchase a new one. He said a few people were affected by recent company closures and downsizing in the county, such as Convergys and Michelin, but this is usually balanced by new people moving into the county, especially those returning home from western Canada.
Sherry Blinkhorn, owner/broker for Blinkhorn Real Estate, said the winter months were good, but things began to slide in April.
“May and June were the lowest I’ve ever seen in my 16 years in this business, but things are starting to fly now,” she said.
She said the real estate market usually takes a dip in August because people begin to focus on back-to-school and other fall activities, but that doesn’t seem to be the trend this year. She believes that because of the late spring, buyers are just getting into the swing of things now.
Blinkhorn agrees people were nervous over Michelin’s announcement this spring that it was going to reduce its workforce, but she said it had little effect on the real estate market.
“It affected about 75 people in the end and a lot of those people were renting or they took severance packages,” she said.
She said some buyers were reluctant to put offers in on homes because they were expecting the market would become more flooded after the Michelin announcement.
“They expected the magic marker to come out and have all these red tag discount deals. I believe it caused people to have no sense of urgency,” she said. “This past month has been crazy busy and it is now balancing itself out as property sales are dramatically picking up.”
She said while there have been a couple of unusually slower-than-usual months, it’s important not to focus on just one month, year-to-date offer the important numbers and trends to look at.
“Yes, values are down, but houses are still moving,” Blinkhorn said. “What many people don’t realize is that the real estate market affects so many other businesses, such as lawyers, insurance companies, contractors, the list goes on. So when we suffer, it has a domino effect on the county as a whole. Likewise when we have a thriving market, everyone benefits.”
Blinkhorn said Pictou County is fortunate to have so many industries that provide jobs, big and small.
“None of us live in isolation, we need each other,” she said. “It’s one of the reasons I’m proud to live in Pictou County, we look after each other through the storms but also are there to celebrate our individual business successes. A thriving real estate market benefits everyone. I’m glad to see that things have picked up after a couple of really slow months.”
Susan Green, owner/broker of MB Green Realty agrees that the market has been challenging this year, but she said it’s important to look at the big picture.
“We need to look at the end of 2014,” she said, adding that while the average sale prices of the homes have dropped considerably compared to last year, there is only a marginal difference between the number of homes sold in July 2013 and July 2014.
“Lower end homes are moving well but the middle is taking a little longer to sell,” she said.
However, she also sees a busy selling season in the fall with the opening of the new prison and other companies that gives people a new sense of confidence.
“There has been a lot of negative news in the county lately and people buy when they feel good about things,” Green said, adding that when people defer their decision to buy something, it never really goes away, it just takes a while longer for a sale to happen.
Roland Burek, development and planning officer for the towns of Stellarton, Trenton and Westville, said the county is going through a slow time with only a few new homes being built in these areas.
“It is a little slower than previous years,” he said, adding that many of the permits filed with the three towns involve renovations to existing homes or properties rather than new construction.
He said there was a permit for one new home in the Town of Stellarton and the Town of Westville has welcomed three new mini-homes, while the Town of Trenton also has a few new homes, but the rest of the permits involve renovations.
On the commercial side, he said, Vida Cannabis is one of the larger commercial projects taking place in the county at the moment. He said there are no major commercial startups in Trenton or Westville.
Statistics were unavailable for the towns of Pictou and New Glasgow as well as the Municipality of Pictou County.
Local real estate brokers all agreed there are lots of options for buyers at the moment with a flood of homes for sale across the county.
Fast Facts: MLS statistics
July 2014 average days on market: 128 days
July 2013 average days on market: 117 days
July 2014 houses sold: 34
July 2013 houses sold: 37
July 2014 average list price: $158,455
July 2013 average list price: $126,106
July 2014 average sale price: $61,216.
July 2013 average sale price: $119, 316.