The spring real estate market hasn’t been quite what realtors were hoping for, but “it’s still a seller’s market, for sure,” said Michele Morris, president of the Real Estate Board of the Fredericton Area.

There was “a good rush” of spring listings, said Morris, with more than 500 properties, and average sale prices were up a bit compared to earlier in the year, to almost $335,000.

But that was down a couple of per cent compared to May last year, as was the year-to-date average.

Some properties are selling for less than list price, said Morris, others for $50,000 to $100,000 over asking.

A woman with chin-length gray hair posing in front of a gray background
Michele Morris said some properties are selling for less than the list price, while others are going for over $50,000 to $100,000. (Submitted by Michele Morris)

In the case of higher prices, it’s usually driven by buyers, who have either sold their homes already and need a new place to live or have lost out on two or three bids already, he said.

“Panic sort of sets in,” she said, and buyers thought, ‘Enough is enough. We have to get a house.'”

In the case of sales below the list price, it could be because the price has been set based on peak prices a few years ago, which is no longer realistic, he suggested.

Interest rate hikes hurt locals more

Interest rates are certainly having an impact, said Morris. Combined with rising household debt levels, higher rates are forcing people to rethink their future plans and rework their budgets. Some are having to stay put in rental units.

“People who wanted to be in the house market have been priced out,” she said.

Higher interest rates are also causing potential sellers to think twice because of the challenge of finding a new home after the sale, said Morris, and the vacancy rate in Fredericton is at an all-time low.

“it’s just as competitive for apartments out there as it is for single-family dwellings.”

An infographic with a house, a for sale sign, a scale and a money bag.
Moncton’s local real estate board tweeted an infographic showing that home sales, benchmark prices and new listings were all down in May 2023 compared to last year. (The Greater Moncton REALTORS/Twitter)

There are still many buyers coming from elsewhere in Canada, especially from Ontario and Alberta, said Morris.

Rising interest rates are no deterrent for them because they’re paying cash from proceeds of selling a much pricier home.

“Chances are they’re going to find a property that far exceeds what they’re used to, for a quarter of the money,” she said.

Unlicensed real estate activity

The New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services Commission issued a warning Tuesday about some unlicensed pop-up real estate agencies, apparently trying to take advantage of the still relatively hot market.

The unlicensed pop-ups have been making false offers to buy “undervalued, off-market or as-is properties,” said the commission, and then trying to re-sell those purchase agreements to others for a profit.

More Fredericton-area stats

More than 260 units were sold through the multiple listing service in the provincial capital area in May, said Morris.

That was down more than 10 per cent from May 2022.

Year to date, sales are down 20 per cent from last year.

During the peak of the pandemic, it was only taking 1.3 months to sell a property, and now that’s up to 1.9 months, said Morris. That’s still well below the time it traditionally took — closer to five months.

Saint John area

In the area covered by the Saint John Real Estate Board, the spring market was cooler.

That includes the southern part of New Brunswick to the US border in St. Stephen, including the counties of St. John, Kings, Charlotte and portions of Queens County.

Units sold in May totaled 210, down about 18 per cent from May 2022, and just barely above the 10-year average for the month, according to a news release from the group.

A graph with four lines on it going up
The average price of homes sold in the Saint John board’s zone in May was $312,366, just a couple of cents lower than May last year. (Saint John Real Estate Board website)

In the first five months of 2023, 704 homes were sold — a drop of almost 30 per cent for the same period in 2022.

The average price of homes sold in the Saint John board’s zone in May was $312,366, just a couple of cents lower than May last year.

There were 280 new listings in May — down about a third from May of last year — for a total number of 475 active listings. That’s the lowest May inventory in more than two decades, according to a news release. Board president Kevin Donovan was not available for an interview with CBC News.

CBC News also reached out to Greater Moncton Realtors to get a picture of that market, but didn’t receive a response by publication time.

Northern New Brunswick

In northern New Brunswick — including Edmundston, Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbellton and the Acadian Peninsula — 164 homes were sold in May, according to the New Brunswick Real Estate Association.

That was a drop of close to 15 per cent from May 2022, but still almost 25 per cent above the 10-year average for the month.

The average price of homes sold in the north, in the first five months of 2023, was $186,941, down 3.9 per cent year over year.

The total number of active listings at the end of May was 724, just about the same as last year and 35 per cent below the 10-year-average for for the month.

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