2016 was a rough year for our local economy and thus, our real estate market. Many people lost their jobs or saw significant cutbacks in hours and income. There was an air of hesitation. People wanted to see how their financial position shaped up before making major decisions. People trying to sell had a tough time. People buying were hesitant. Those days appear to be behind us.
There were 173 homes sold in the area in 2016. That is the lowest annual total that I could find going back to the birth of MLS in 1999. It was, in fact, the only year we’ve done fewer than 190 transactions in a year. That’s how bad it was. Every quarter was the slowest quarter since 2009. Man, am I ever glad it’s over.
The good news (or bad news if you’re one of those deal hunters that is convinced that every person selling their house is desperate for your offer) is that prices were fairly steadfast in the face of significant adversity. The annual median sale price peaked in 2013 at $279,000. It bottomed in 2015 at $254,000. The median sale price in 2016 was $257,000. That is a moderate improvement over last year, but it’s an improvement none-the-less.
That stable median sale price was achieved without any help from the top of the market. This is an extremely important element of the data. The median price is the middle number in a long list. More sales of higher-priced properties pull’s the median upwards. In 2016 we sold 14 single-family homes over $400,000. That is the lowest number since 2011 when the median sale price was $241,500. Those homes that are selling below $400,000 are selling for at or slightly above their peak values. The value that is available to buyers over $400,000 right now is excellent. It will be a matter of time before the deals that are out there are snapped up. If you’re one of those bargain hunters (that’s all of you), you need to make your move quick before you miss out.
Looking ahead to 2017, I’m confident that, at worst, we should reach the transaction levels we saw in 2009 – the former record holder for the worst year in the past decade. We did 243 transactions that year. That would be a 40% improvement over last year. If we hit 75% of the average of the past 5 years, including 2016, we would do 271 transactions. That would be an improvement of 57%. I think we have a shot.
I think that the only thing that could derail a significant improvement is the people who want to sell this year. I can’t warn you strongly enough about the folly of trying to increase your price in the next year. Buyers will still hold the majority of the cards throughout the year and you need to respect that. As always, fair prices and reasonable buyers will ensure that the majority of people buying and selling property in and around Dawson Creek will get what they want this year.