A longtime Weyburn realtor, Winston Bailey, said there are many positive aspects to the real estate market in the city and area right now, in a presentation he gave to the Weyburn Rotary Club on Thursday via Zoom.
He noted he’s been in business in the city for 46 years, since he began with a construction company in 1976, and in real estate for the last 16 years, “and I have no intentions of quitting just yet.”
Sharing statistics about how real estate is doing in this area, Bailey noted that provincially the real estate market has had one of its strongest ever starts to a year, according to the Saskatchewan Real Estate Association, with housing values up by one per cent after going down for the previous four or five years.
One factor is the low interest rates, said Bailey, pointing out that on a recent home sale the buyers were able to get 1.79 per cent on a 20-year mortgage with a five-year term.
Comparatively, when he built a home in 1983, the interest rate went down from 14 per cent to 11.5 per cent, “and I said yep, we can afford this — so that’s quite a difference.”
He added that in the last few months, he hasn’t seen any interest rates higher than 2.25 per cent, which can make a large difference in mortgage payments.
Currently the number of houses and other properties on the market has dropped by about 30 per cent, which has the positive effect of quick sales for a seller — unless it’s a condominium unit, which are “very sluggish” right now with 41 condos on the market in Weyburn right now.
Overall, there are about 135 properties on the market in Weyburn right now, including the condos, where normally the city has over 200 properties for sale. Bailey noted that “well over 200” properties sold in 2020, and “that’s pretty impressive. We haven’t seen that for a long time.”
There are few housing starts right now due to the high cost of building materials, said Bailey. He noted his son, Chad, recently built a fishing shack, and a sheet of plywood cost about $60, up from the past average price of around $22-23 a sheet.
The strongest real estate markets right now are in the larger cities, like Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, while in the smaller cities, like Weyburn, Estevan, North Battleford and Kindersley, most of them have a strong presence of the oil industry.
“When the boom was on, it was our cities that grew the most. We’re suffering a little bit right now, but by the same token, we’re not in trouble. I don’t think that’s too negative a thing, I’m still very optimistic,” said Bailey.
Farmland values have been very strong in the Weyburn region, particularly good quality farm land from Yellow Grass, Lang and Colfax areas up to Regina, said Bailey.
He pointed to two recent land sales just north of Yellow Grass, with six quarters selling for $3,500 an acre in one sale, and in a smaller parcel, the land sold for $4,000 an acre, “so $600,000 for a quarter is what you’re seeing on some farmland.”
Land in the Weyburn area has sold for around $250,000 a quarter, he added, saying as a general rule, farmland will sell for 1.2 to 1.3 times its assessment, and high-quality farmland will sell for 1.5 to 1.6 times its assessed value.
“Even pasture land will sell for $150-175,000 a quarter,” he added.
For commercial properties, Bailey said some oil-related properties have had their tenants move on, but many of them have tenants renting so very few of those are sitting empty.
Addressing how COVID-19 has impacted the real estate business, Bailey said they are making it work and are abiding by the provincial regulations around how businesses are to operate.
“When I go to show a house, I have a mask on and keep a physical distance, and use hand sanitizer. You just comply by the rules,” he said. “People in general have been very open to allow us in. Some ask us to wear gloves, and that’s fine, that’s not a problem. In all, it’s a different way of doing business, but we just comply with the provincial standards, rules and regulations, and we can live with that.”
Weyburn has a lot going for it, such as being declared one of the best communities to live in on the prairies and in Canada.
“I’m a believer in our city, and in what we have going for us. It continues to attract people of all walks of life,” said Bailey, pointing out Weyburn has a new school and a new recreation and culture centre under construction, and a new hospital is on the way.
“I’ve had the privilege of taking a couple of tours (of the new facilities) and it’s absolutely amazing, it’s unbelievable. We should be very, very proud to have that facility here,” he said, adding the new hospital will also be a big boost for the city.
Combined with having Southeast College here, Weyburn has a lot to offer, he said. “Education and health care always assist in attracting people to the city.”
The ranking of Weyburn as one of Canada’s top communities is based on many factors, he added, including affordability, crime rate, schools, recreation and sporting facilities, and the business community, not to mention Weyburn’s friendliness, which is mentioned to him all the time by visitors from other communities.
Asked if Weyburn’s Golf Club is a selling feature for potential buyers, Bailey said it absolutely is a major recreational asset, along with the other sporting and recreation facilities that are here.