While many businesses were forced to take a back seat to COVID-19, the local real estate market was not one of them.

“In my experience, COVID-19 didn’t really have a negative impact on the realty market at all,” explained Catherine Aldous, a realtor with Re/Max Meadow Lake. “Schools closed March 16 and I thought I would soon be spending more time at home with the kids. But, by March 18, I was working steady. People still wanted to view homes – things have been steady ever since the pandemic hit.”

Aldous went on to say, when comparing figures from this year to last, the number of properties sold in Meadow Lake is actually higher now than it was at this time in 2019.

“With the oil situation, there were a few years when things slowed down a little, but now people appear to be needing to buy while others are ready to sell,” Aldous continued. “At first, I even felt guilty going to work because I didn’t think we were an essential service, but I suppose, to some people, we are essential.”

Derrick Brucks – a former resident of Meadow Lake who now works for Realty Executives Saskatoon – said numbers are on the rise in his community as well.

“In April, sales were down 50 per cent in Saskatoon, but by June they were up by about 25 per cent more than the previous June,” Brucks said. “This was the same in July, while year-to-date sales in Saskatoon are on par with those of 2019.”

Although he doesn’t have any currently, Brucks has – from time-to-time – also had realty listings in Meadow Lake. He went on to say a big reason why so many people are interested in buying now in spite of the pandemic is because of how low interest rates are at the moment.

“Interest rates are at an all-time low and are currently hovering at about two per cent,” he said. “This is unheard of, but it’s what’s helping to keep the economy going right now.”

From 1990 to 2020, interest rates averaged at about 5.86 per cent, but since COVID-19 the recent average has been about 1.99 per cent.

Brucks also noted Meadow Lake’s diversity as a farming community, as well as the presence of three mills also helps the local economy thrive. Aldous agreed.

“The low interest rates have certainly helped,” she noted. “But, Meadow Lake has always been a strong area to begin with when it comes to buying and selling homes. You can’t really compare Meadow Lake to a place like Saskatoon – in Meadow Lake the need is always there and the prices are always strong. We’re also seeing a lot of first-time buyers which is really nice.”

Still, the pandemic hasn’t gone fully unnoticed when it comes to real estate.

“Like everything, there are numerous safety precautions now in place (when showing homes or other properties),” Brucks said. “We wear masks in certain homes, we use disinfectant spray and, in some cases, property owners are leaving closet doors open and lights on to help eliminate or at least reduce the amount of touching that would normally take place.”

Among those looking to sell property in Meadow Lake is former business owner Wayne Spark. After close to a decade of being on the market, Spark’s downtown commercial shop which once housed Albert’s Men’s Wear, now has a sold sign in the window.

“The sold sign is up, but the sale is still pending,” Spark said.

Spark does not believe, however, the pandemic in any way resulted in the recent interest in his property.

“Someone just has an interest in the building,” he said.

by Phil Ambroziak