Real estate agents across the United States and Canada say they are seeing a surge in demand in anticipation of the expected economic slowdown.
The number of agents in the industry jumped to more than 200,000 in January, from just over 100,000 a year ago, according to RealtyTrac, an industry association.
They are looking for buyers to get into homes and other assets as the economy begins to weaken.
“It’s not just in the U.S., but in Canada as well, the industry is on the rise,” said Michael C. Strain, chief economist for Realty Trac.
“People are looking to buy and hold on to their homes, and it’s getting a lot easier to do so as the dollar strengthens and as prices go up.”
Strain said many agents are now using the term “buy-and-hold” to describe their strategy, in which they are taking on long-term debt to purchase homes and put them up for sale.
“I don’t think there is a shortage of people who are looking at these assets,” said Brian T. Miller, chief executive officer of Realty Group of Canada, which has offices in Denver, San Diego and Vancouver.
“What I think people are really taking note of is the number of homes being purchased and the price they’re selling for.
People are getting more comfortable buying into a home and making it a rental.”
But it’s not all home buyers.
In January, the Federal Reserve announced it would begin raising interest rates by an average of 1 per cent on Tuesday.
The rate hike, which will come at a cost of about $100 billion a year, is expected to help drive prices up for many people who would otherwise be priced out of the market.
“The market is going to continue to go up, and the economy is going down,” said Kevin J. Miller of Miller Real Estate, a Denver-based real estate agent.
“So the dollar is going up, but people are going to keep buying because they have a good reason.”
Real estate has long been a key driver of the U,S.
Since the start of the last recession in late 2007, home prices have increased more than 20 per cent in the last four years.
The average price of a detached home in the country hit an all-time high of $1.6 million in January 2016.
That was just shy of a record high of the year before.
And home prices in cities like Seattle, where the median house price is now more than $1 million, are up 40 per cent.
Real estate agent Michael B. Buehler of the Seattle-based Bueler Group said the economic downturn has forced many agents to rethink their strategy.
“There’s been a lot of change within the industry,” he said.
“They’re finding a lot more demand for properties that they’re not necessarily necessarily selling as well as they would have been five years ago.”
As the economy slows down, some real estate agents are selling their properties for much more than their fair market value, which is usually between $1,000,000 and $1m.
That means many agents have to sell them for more than they paid for them.
RealtyGroup of Canada is among the companies that have said it will raise the minimum payment it is required to give a buyer to buyers who want to buy properties for $1 or more.
Some agents are also selling their homes for less than their original purchase price.
The median price of homes in Canada’s biggest cities in January was $2.9 million, up 13 per cent from January 2016, according the Canadian Real Estate Association.
In Toronto, the median price was $1-million down 11 per cent, the highest decline in the city since February 2016.
B.C. has also seen an increase in the number and value of homes sold, with an average price now about $1 and a median price now around $1-$1.5 million.
In Regina, home sales were up by 16 per cent year-over-year to more $1 billion.
The province also has seen a boom in the value of the condos, which now have an average value of about three times the median home price in Regina.
“We are seeing more homes sold,” said B.S. Haggis, vice-president of real estate at B.M. Hurden.
“As the price of the property is increasing, more people are willing to buy a condo.”
But even with a strong dollar, it’s unlikely people will go out and buy homes in a hurry, as prices are likely to stay at levels in the $1 to $1 range.
“For people who might be able to sell their house for $2 or $3 million, they probably won’t be able,” said Chris Darnell, president of B.R. Huttons, a real estate brokerage in Toronto.
“Some of the most exciting things