Housing market steady in Trinity Conception
Realtor, hardware store owner see less impact from oil price decline
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.
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.
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.