Real estate board president takes interest rates into perspective

Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board President Rob Longo. (Photo from RobLongo.ca)

The President of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board is keeping a close eye on rising interest rates and how they could impact the local market.

The Bank of Canada warned Thursday that Canadians who took out mortgages in 2020 or 2021 could see their monthly payments increase 30 per cent when they renew them in five years.

Rob Longo thinks perspective is key.

“Interest rates have inched their way up over the last few months, and obviously that is creating issues for some homebuyers,” said Longo. “But, it’s important to remember that overall when we’re looking at the interest rate schematics over the last ten, 15, 20, 30 years, interest rates are still very low. They’re near historic lows at this point still and housing is still very affordable for people that are able to make those monthly payments.”

Longo said the median sale price so far this year in Sarnia-Lambton is $525,000, and was nearly $508,000 in May.

While those prices may seem inflated to some, Longo said they continue to be very desirable to people moving from other communities.

“In the last few months, we’ve been seeing about 100 people per month net move into Sarnia-Lambton. Now those are self reported numbers, so those aren’t exact and those are just a fraction of the overall market, but we are seeing at least 100 people plus per month moving into Sarnia-Lambton as a whole, which is a really positive thing I think for the growth of our communities.”

Longo said there were 180 active listings in May, representing a nearly 26 per cent increase over last year.

“We have seen the number of listings starting to average upwards, which is a good thing for us. That being said, the median home sale price has held strong and has not changed from April to May, which is nice and steady for people I think as they’re looking at the market, and I think we’re hoping that we see those trends continue as we head more into the summertime.”

Longo is also encouraged by the steps Sarnia council took earlier this week to increase the housing supply to meet the demand.

Forty-four new units off of Confederation Line in Heritage Park is a very positive development for that area¬†and the potential rezoning of the Bright’s Grove lands for future development is obviously something that we’ve advocated for, for a long time.”

While they won’t create immediate changes, Longo said they’re very important for the long term growth and sustainability of the community.

There were 187 residential sales last month, with volume sales reaching nearly $108 million.

On average, homes sold for 111 per cent above asking in about eight days.