WINDSOR, ONT. -- New real estate numbers in Windsor-Essex show COVID-19 has yet to take a big bite out of the region’s red-hot market.

Monthly statistics for March from the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors (WECAR) shows the average sale price is up 7.46 per cent year-over-year to $357,874 – but down roughly $30,000 from February.

Bidding wars and quick sales that have become the norm in the market continue despite the restrictive government measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, including doing away with open houses and in-home showings.

“There are people that have bought houses and have sold houses and they got caught right in the middle of it, so, those people are still keeping our market active,” said Lorraine Clark, president of the WECAR.

Clark noted while market activity is up with more listings than this time last year, sales are down 9.44 per cent over the same period.

Uncertainty in the market and measures put in place to protect tenants during the pandemic have scared Toronto buyers off of Windsor-Essex, according to Clark.

“That’s not a bad thing for Windsorites, because Windsorites have been competing for the last few years with Toronto and Windsorites can’t compete with Toronto because they have a lot more money in their pocket,” said Clark.

The quickly rolled-out regulations caught some homebuyers and sellers in the crosshairs, creating stress - in particular - for those buyers planning to move into new builds and now facing the prospect of scrambling to find alternate accommodations as COVID-19 measures lead to construction delays.

The provincial government has maintained residential construction on its list of essential businesses.

Homebuilders in the region continue to finish out permitted projects to meet the housing demand, but no new permits will be issued until novel coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted.

“These people would be without shelter, without dwelling,” said Brent Klundert, co-owner of BK Cornerstone. “I think it was important that they kept us on the essential list.”

BK Cornerstone has revised its construction practices, limiting one trade per site to help maintain physical distancing.

Crews have been accommodating, now working weekends as well to help complete projects as close to on-time as possible, but according to Klundert, the measures are seeing work completed more slowly and more costly.

When new permits are available again, Klundert wants to see municipalities and his industry ready to roll.

“Especially, just out today about real estate not really slowing down due to the virus, there could be a major shortage of housing again in this area for a little while,” said Klundert.

According to Clark, the April statistics will give a better picture as to the impact COVID-19 measures have had on the Windsor-Essex housing market.

Clark is confident a return to normal within six to eight weeks could see the virus register as a blip in the market, instead of a crater.

“I think our year-end is probably going to be not as bad as everyone is thinking,” said Clark.