Pandemic fuels London-area real estate ‘frenzy’

(Photo by © Can Stock Photo / Feverpitched)

2020 proved to be the second best year on record for London-area realtors.

The housing market remained red hot in part because of the pandemic, which made people reevaluate their living space. In total, 9,976 homes changed hands in the region last year. Of those, 596 were sold last month alone, according to figures released by the London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR).

“LSTAR realtors started the year with a bang and, contrary to the somber predictions sparked by the coronavirus restrictions, they ended it on the same note,” 2020 LSTAR President Blair Campbell said in a statement.

December 2020 has gone down as LSTAR’s best December on record and marked the fourth straight month sales records were broken in the area.

Increased demand combined with low inventory pushed home prices up with the average sale price increasing by another $20,000 to $555,324 last month. North London remains the most expensive area to live in with an average sale price of $673,872, up 29.3 per cent compared to December 2019. In contrast, east London was the cheapest with an average sale price of $434,195.

In St. Thomas, the average sales price went up 10.6 per cent compared to December 2019 to $440,557.

While COVID-19 and the lockdown and restrictions it brought made area realtors nervous in last spring it ended up being a driving factor in sales, Campbell noted.

“Globally, this year, people were forced to spend much more time in their homes with their families, which made them reevaluate their housing choices. Some of the trends that emerged saw a higher demand for moving to rural neighbourhoods, owning a house with more rooms for separate work and learning spaces, and having a good sized backyard with a pool,” said Campbell. “Because all of these might feel out of reach in the bigger cities, many Ontarians have decided to relocate in smaller urban areas, such as London and St. Thomas, thus contributing to the local market’s frenzy.”