“We’re dependent on the money they bring back,” says sales rep Jim Graham from Miramichi, N.B., where many people migrate west for work in the oil fields. “Low oil might impact the market, because lots of people might not have jobs. Quite a number of people in the area work out West, either Saskatchewan or Alberta.”
Miramichi, a small town on the eastern coast of New Brunswick, was particularly hard hit by the recession a few years back. By 2009, the town had lost one-third of its employers from the last five years. As a result, many workers took jobs in the oil sands out west in an effort to hang on to their lives back home.
“We appreciate the fact that they have jobs and the disposable income is brought back here, as opposed to where the money’s made,” Graham says.
While the market hasn’t experienced a massive up-tick in activity, Graham says the money coming in has certainly helped stave off a potential downturn.
“Most of the people who work out there already had their homes established before they left,” he says. “So when they come back, they do renovations. But they’re not buying much except the necessities.”
Kari McBride, president of the New Brunswick Real Estate Association, said agents are encouraging buyers to get into the market now – especially as the Bank of Canada opted to lower the benchmark interest rate.
“We have a lot of oversupply and we were encouraging people to buy because it’s a buyer’s market,” she added. “There’s a lot of confidence in the market and things have been stable.”
Sales reps in Canada’s oil-producing provinces are not the only ones preparing for the impact of sinking oil values; agents on the opposite side of the country are also watching with interest.