Hous­ing mar­ket steady in Trin­ity Conception

Re­al­tor, hard­ware store owner see less im­pact from oil price de­cline

The Compass - - NEWS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

While many towns and cities across New­found­land and Labrador are feel­ing the crunch from a drop in oil rev­enue, Trin­ity Conception is ap­par­ently hold­ing its own.

There are many peo­ple from the re­gion that have or still do com­mute back and forth to Al­berta or work on the off­shore oil rigs. So when lay­offs were an­nounced ear­lier this year af­ter a down­turn in oil prices, there was con­cern the loss of jobs would halt the hous­ing mar­ket in New­found­land.

Some that lost their po­si­tions from this area may have been lucky to re­ceive a call to work in Long Har­bour at the pro­cess­ing plant or Bull Arm fab­ri­ca­tion fa­cil­ity. That is an ad­van­tage to liv­ing close to sites that are boom­ing with work.

Some re­ceived call backs to Al­berta, while oth­ers went back to school or looked for work else­where.

Although the price of oil has re­mained low com­pared to other years, the hous­ing mar­ket doesn’t seem to have taken a large hit in this re­gion.

Trin­ity Bay

Paul Hindy, the owner and op­er­a­tor of Hindy’s Home Hard­ware in Win­ter­ton, Trin­ity Bay, told The Com­pass a few months ago busi­ness was steady, with this year be­ing on par with last year.

“We’ve seen some ma­jor in­creases over the past seven to ten years,” he ex­plained. “A lot of it is due to the off­shore, ob­vi­ously, the Bull Arm and Long Har­bour projects. All these projects are putting money back into the econ­omy.”

Although it has been a good sales sea­son, Hindy did ad­mit that less peo­ple ap­pear to be build­ing new homes.

“We have seen a cou­ple ar­eas where we’ve had some young peo­ple that were plan­ning on build­ing this year (that work in Al­berta) who have de­cided to put their house on hold,” he con­tin­ued. “But out­side of that, there’s not a whole lot that has af­fected us.”

He be­lieves all of At­lantic Canada has seen a bit of a de­crease in sales in his in­dus­try, and thinks a lot of it could be based off the neg­a­tive talk about oil.

“I hate to hear any neg­a­tive (in the media),” he noted. “Yes, some projects got put on hold. But there’s a lot of neg­a­tive about down­turns, like Al­berta ( jobs) and re­cently with IOC (Iron Ore Com­pany).”

Even though the down­turn in the oil econ­omy may have af­fected some peo­ple for pur­chas­ing, Hindy be­lieves the low ex­change rate with the Amer­i­can dol­lar is also a hin­drance, not­ing some items will end up cost­ing more.

Conception Bay North

In the Conception Bay North re­gion, real es­tate seems to be mov­ing along, ac­cord­ing to Pam Nor­man of Exit Realty on the Rock.

The pop­u­lar re­al­tor doesn’t be­lieve the lo­cal area is af­fected by oil prices at all. In fact, she has seen a jump in more ex­pen­sive hous­ing pur­chases.

“I don’t think there has been a change in the amount of sales as there has been in what we sold,” Nor­man ex­plained. “We’ve sold a lot of ex­ec­u­tive homes. Which is some­thing we would rarely do.”

In a typ­i­cal year, Nor­man’s team might sell one ex­ec­u­tive home with a pric­etage ex­ceed­ing $400,000. This year the group has sold eight.

“That’s prob­a­bly (equal to) the num­ber I’ve sold al­to­gether,” she said.

This year she be­lieves she’s on par, if not ahead, of last year’s sales, with ap­prox­i­mately 200 homes ex­pected to sell this year.

New homes not wanted

One thing both Hindy and Nor­man agree on is that new home con­struc­tion is down. Some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the re­gion, like Car­bon­ear, have seen slight in­creases to the num­ber of per­mits is­sued this year for new home con­struc­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Canada Mort­gage and Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion, there were 19 hous­ing starts in Bay Roberts for the first six months of 2015, com­pared to 21 for the same time pe­riod in 2014. In ur­ban mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties such as Gan­der and Cor­ner Brook, hous­ing starts were down by more than 70 per cent for the first half of 2015.

Over­all, Nor­man said the real es­tate mar­ket is slower when it comes to un­fin­ished homes and un­land­scaped yards.

But why would that be? Nor­man’s clien­tele of­ten con­sists of those mov­ing back to the Conception Bay North re­gion af­ter 30 to 40 years away.

“Be­cause of the baby boomers it’s hap­pen­ing to us right now,” Nor­man ex­plained. “Some are com­ing from (St. John’s and Mount Pearl), On­tario, some from Al­berta. And those peo­ple are re­tir­ing re­gard­less of the oil prices. That’s why I don’t think it’s af­fect­ing us.”

On a laneway in Co­ley’s Point, Bay Roberts, Nor­man has list­ings for nu­mer­ous lots to build homes. None of the lots were sold as of late Septem­ber. This ap­pears to sup­port the idea that new home con­struc­tion hasn’t been big in the area.

Hindy be­lieves that some projects will go ahead as new con­struc­tion, and the sta­dium in Har­bour Grace is one that stands out.

He be­lieves once the sta­dium opens in its new spot, it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore new busi­nesses are needed in the area. With an in­crease in busi­ness, there’s an in­crease in jobs, the econ­omy and of­ten, dis­pos­able in­come.

Prices keep in­creas­ing

With the re­lease of the mu­nic­i­pal home assess­ments last week, many peo­ple in both Trin­ity and Conception Bays opened their no­tices to re­veal in­creases of tens of thou­sands of dol­lars.

Some homes in Car­bon­ear have seen in­creases of $40,000plus, and in Win­ter­ton, homes have also in­creased ex­po­nen­tially.

Although in­creases are com­mon, if the mil rate stays the same, the taxes will in­crease for these home­own­ers. These are ad­di­tional costs to liv­ing in the area.

With the low Cana­dian dol­lar and lower oil rev­enue, the in­crease could af­fect the in­come of peo­ple in the re­gion.

But for right now, the area ap­pears to be boom­ing in the real es­tate mar­ket and with hous­ing ren­o­va­tions. But if there is another fall in oil or the Cana­dian dol­lar, only time will tell if Trin­ity Conception will be af­fected.

PHOTOS BY MELISSA JENK­INS/THE COM­PASS

The yard at Hindy’s in Win­ter­ton has plenty of build­ing mat­er­als, but with new home con­struc­tion be­ing down, con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als are mostly be­ing pur­chased for ren­o­va­tions.

Pam Nor­man of Exit Realty on The Rock has nu­mer­ous lots listed in Bay Roberts, but they are not mov­ing very fast be­cause of a low de­mand for new home builds.

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