Fort St. John real estate sales, home prices drop amid pandemic

Fort St. John saw real estate sales drop 27% in the first half of 2020 due to the economic shocks of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC Northern Real Estate Board released its mid-year results on Tuesday, July 7, showing 188 properties worth $63.6 million were sold in the Fort St. John area through the end of June.

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Of those sales, 90 were single-family homes that spent an average of 83 days on the market and sold for an average price of $369,723.

Compared to the first half of 2019, realtors had sold 129 single-family homes for an average price of $382,400, a drop of around 3% year-over-year.

The city has also seen the sale of 25 half-duplexes (+7), 22 manufactured homes (-27), 21 homes on acreages (-9), and nine vacant lots (no change) so far this year.

There were 258 properties sold for $85.4 million in the first six months of 2019.

Across northern B.C., sales dropped by 30% in the second quarter due to the pandemic and physical-distancing measures. That halted real estate activity, which relies on in-person interactions, in a region already struggling with depressed forestry, mining, and oil and gas sectors, the board said.

“The first half of 2020 saw a significant decline in housing demand in the region, with sales in April reaching a low not seen since January 1988,” said President Shawna Kinsley.

“Moreover, significant job losses were reported in the services sector in the region, and large projects such as LNG and BC Hydro paused work that was deemed non-essential.”

Fort Nelson numbers were a bright spot.

There, 35 properties worth $4.3 million were sold by the end of June. That's up down from the 16 properties worth $1.3 million in the same period last year.

Half of the 15 single family homes sold since January sold for less than $97,000, however, and took an average of 199 days to sell, according to the board.

As of June 30, there were 669 properties of all types available for purchase through MLS listings in the Fort St. John area, and 98 in the Fort Nelson area.

The real estate board expects sales to remain week for the rest of the year. Though sales are expected to fall overall by almost 18%, average prices are expected to rise 2.3%.

“As the BC economy begins to gradually reopen and demand starts to pick up, resale supply will be slow to respond and the pace of new housing is expected to slow as well with housing starts forecast to fall almost 19 per cent in central regions like Prince George,” the board noted. 

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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