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North Bay real estate market strongest amongst Northern cities.

Realtors note slight increase in sales over a year period

Unlike his enthusiastic counterparts selling homes in the hot real estate markets in southern Ontario, Dave Demarco is cautiously optimistic about the real estate market in North Bay this year.

"I feel there's some room for us to move up," says the president of the North Bay and District Real Estate Board. "It all depends on whether or not we have a good economic forecast. There seems to be more confidence out there."

The first-time buyer market is solid, while second-time buyers seemed prepared to take the risk to move up, the sales representative for Royal Lepage/North Bay Real Estate Services says.

"Out of the five major Northern Ontario cities ... our market is the strongest," Demarco says. Demarco meets regularly with real estate boards and realtors in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Timmins.

"But actually things haven't changed a lot," from 1999.

The average sale price for houses in the first 11 months of 2000 edged up only $100, to $116,145 from $116,044, and the average listing time remains in the 60- to 90-day range depending on the type of property, Demarco adds.

By the end of November, North Bay realtors sold 1,142 homes in 2000, an increase of 22 from 1,120 for the same period a year earlier.

Demarco reports that the fastest growing market segment is the $120,000 to $170,000 range, mainly move-up buyers and some first-time buyers, with sales increasing about 27 per cent this year over the same period last year.

Buyers want homes they can move right into and don't want to be concerned about home improvement projects, and there seems to be a dearth of those quality homes in that price range, Demarco says.

"If a nice home comes up in that price range, it's gone in a couple of weeks," Demarco says.

Home sellers in that price range, especially if they're in a quick-sell situation, should consider getting any obvious work done first and trying to recoup the cost in their sale price, he adds. First-time buyers are less fussy, more willing to take the time to put sweat equity into improving their home investment, but that enthusiasm is not common in second-time buyers.

The condominium market has also shown more activity as seniors and older couples look for alternatives to owning larger home that require maintenance.

The steady or positive movement in real estate doesn't seem to have reached the higher end of the market. Sales in the $240,000 to $260,000 range are down more than 20 per cent, and in the $220,000 to $240,000 down 10 per cent. But there are so few sales in those prices ranges a slight increase or decrease in sales distorts the statistic, Demarco reports.

Market stability also masks slightly increased competition for home buyers, he says. North Bay homebuilders have had a good year. With about 70 new homes and former in-town housing for Canadian Forces Base, North Bay has been renovated and has experienced growth in the market
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Author:SITTER, KEN
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:517
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