Status quo for Calgary’s housing market

Prices remain similar to last year, but ease in October

October’s housing market conditions closely echoed previous month’s trends with easing sales, rising inventories and downward price pressure. Like last month, the monthly activity was not enough to derail gains that occurred earlier in the year.

October sales and inventories totaled 1,467 and 6,463 units for a month of supply of 4.4. Several months of elevated supply in comparison to demand has weighed on pricing over the past several months. The city-wide unadjusted benchmark price in October totaled $438,900, 0.6 per cent below last month, but comparable to last year.

“While economic activity has improved in 2017, it will take some time for this to translate into housing market growth. There have been employment gains, but most of this has occurred in areas with traditionally lower income,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“We also continue to face weak migration, higher lending rates and changes to lending policy. The combination of these factors is impacting housing demand, which is prolonging the pace of recovery.”

Resale inventory gains occurred in each product type and across most districts in the city. The largest gains were in districts with substantial new development growth.

In the detached segment, the largest number of units added to inventory occurred in the $300,000 – $500,000 price range. This represents nearly 42 per cent of all detached inventory. 62 per cent of the inventory in the city-wide market is priced below $500,000.

“There is far more product availability in the lower price ranges now compared to several years ago,” said CREB® president David P. Brown.

“This provides more options for potential buyers concerned about their purchasing power given all the changes in the lending market.”

The largest monthly price change occurred in the apartment condominium sector which recorded an unadjusted monthly decline of 0.8 per cent, resulting in a 13 per cent spread over monthly highs recorded in 2014.

Despite some recent adjustments, prices in the attached and detached segments remain relatively stable compared to last year.

The BIG Picture

Inventory increases and sales drop in September, but overall sales for the year remain higher than last year.

Strong gains in the first-half of 2017 has put the Calgary year-to-date sales at seven per cent above last years’ levels and 11 per cent below long-term averages, but challenges remain with easing sales and rising new listings.

Inventories rose across all property types to 6,861 units, while both apartment and attached-style properties saw the highest inventory on record for the month of September.

“The recent rise in inventories is preventing further price recovery as sales activity has moderated over recent months. This does not come as a surprise as sales activity is expected to remain modest by historical standards until more substantial economic improvements take hold,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“Some may consider this a setback, but it is important to note that recent movements are balancing out the higher than expected gains that occurred in the first-half of the year.”

New listings in September totaled 3,266 units, a year-over-year gain of nearly 10 per cent.

“There are several factors influencing new listings. Given the falling prices over the past two years, some sellers were waiting for market conditions to improve prior to listing their homes. More stability in the market has prompted many of those sellers to no longer delay their listing decision,” said CREB® president David P. Brown.

“In some segments, rising new home inventories are also impacting total housing supply. Ultimately, prices are affected. However, this inventory also opens up opportunity for buyers to step up into a home that was financially unattainable.”

As of September, unadjusted benchmark prices totaled $441,500. This is 0.2 per cent below last month, but nearly one per cent above last year. Downward price pressure this month occurred across most product types. However, year-to-date benchmark prices in the detached sector remain comparable to last year.

Prices in the detached sector remain relatively stable compared to last year. Condominium apartment prices remain four per cent below 2016 levels and twelve per cent below 2014 highs. This sector continues to struggle with price declines resulting from excess supply as months of supply pushed above eight months.

Housing recovery a balancing act

Growth in new listings outpaced sales preventing inventory declines 

Sales posted a modest gain in August, but a rise in new listings kept inventory levels elevated.

Inventories totaled 6,624 units, where over half were comprised of attached and apartment style properties. While inventories were 16 per cent higher than August 2016 levels, the slight rise in sales prevented further gains in the months-of-supply, which remain just above four months.

“Employment growth is contributing to the stability in sales activity, but it is not enough to meet the recent rise in listings and make a substantial dent in inventory levels,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“Unemployment rates remain elevated and job growth is mostly occurring outside the energy sector, slowing the recovery process. Broader economic improvements will be required prior to it translating into substantial improvements in the housing market.”

The second month of higher inventories compared to sales weighed on prices for the month. The unadjusted city wide benchmark price totaled $442,300 in August. This is 0.3 percent below last month, but remains nearly one per cent above last year’s levels. Overall total residential prices remain four per cent below peak levels.

“Buyers have several options in this market, and sellers need to continue to be realistic regarding the price they expect to receive for their home,” said CREB® president David P. Brown.

“While some of the buyers are re-entering the market, they are also considering all of their options prior to making a commitment.”

The pace of growth in detached sales has closely matched new listings this year. However, inventory levels continue to remain at 3,280 and months of supply pushed up to 3.32. Recent gains in months-of-supply prevented further gains in prices this month. Detached prices totaled $510,900 in August. This is slightly lower than last year, but 1.5 per cent above last year’s levels.

With over seven months-of-supply, the excess supply continues to weigh heavily on the apartment condominium sector. As of August, the benchmark price totaled $263,300. This is one per cent below last month and three per cent below last year’s levels. Downward price pressure in this sector is expected as supply levels remain elevated in the new, resale and rental market.

Mid-Year market update shows stability

CREB® forecasts a process of recovery for the remainder of 2017

The first-half of 2017 marked a shift in Alberta’s economy from recession to recovery, with conditions supporting stability rather than expansion.

“Economic challenges continue to exist, as high unemployment rates, weak migration levels and more stringent lending conditions are weighing on the housing market,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“This will continue to cause some adjustments in the housing market for the remainder of this year. However, this is not expected to offset earlier gains supporting general stability in 2017.”

Resale sales activity is expected to total 18,401 units in 2017, a 3.3 per cent improvement over last year. The pace of growth is slightly faster than originally anticipated, due to the stronger growth that occurred in the first half of the year.

“We saw many of those consumers who delayed any purchasing decisions willing to re-enter the market as concerns regarding the economy eased,” said CREB® president David P. Brown.

“More potential buyers on the market helped move some of the product in inventory and started to create some price stability.”

Improvements in the supply demand balance, primarily in the detached and attached sector, caused prices to start to trend up. Demand growth through the remainder of the year is expected to ease relative to inventory levels. This should prevent further substantial shifts in pricing. Overall, annual city wide prices are expected to remain at levels comparable to last year.

Despite generally improving trends, difficulties continue to exist in the condo-apartment ownership market. Rising sales cannot keep pace with the growth in new listings, keeping supply levels high and placing continued downward pressure on prices. This area of the housing market will likely continue to face challenges well into next year, as it will take time to absorb additional inventory in the resale, new and rental markets.

“Improvements in the labour market are supporting the shift in the housing market this year. However, activity over the past two years was amongst the weakest we have seen since the financial crisis,” said Lurie.

“While the shift is welcome news for many, we continue to expect that process of recovery will be slow and dependent on the property type and location within the market.”

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Housing recovery remains a work-in-progress

Market sees modest inventory gains, but overall prices inch up

Sales exhibited stable growth through the first half of the year in the Calgary housing market, but the number of transactions slowed slightly in July compared to last year.

City-wide sales totaled 1,637 units, six per cent below July 2016 levels. Year-to-date sales activity totaled 11,957 units, nine per cent above last year.

“Sales growth exceeded expectations so far this year. Clients were re-entering the market after delaying decisions until there were some signs of economic improvement,” said CREB®president David P. Brown.

“However, this recovery will require patience. There continues to be many new and resale ownership options available. This reduces the sense of the urgency for many consumers.”

Easing sales were met with higher new listings, causing further gains in inventory levels. City-wide months of supply rose to four months, as inventory levels reached 6,675 units this month. This is 17 per cent higher than last year, but still below July highs recorded in 2008.

“Modest improvements in the labour market and net migration were necessary to support the turnaround in the housing market,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“However, current inventory levels and changes in the lending market continue to weigh on housing demand.  Easing demand growth combined with elevated levels of supply will slow the pace of price recovery in our market.”

Driven by detached and attached housing sales, city-wide prices in July improved over the previous month and the previous year. However, it is nearly four per cent below previous monthly highs. Year-to-date benchmark averages remain 0.44 per cent below last year’s levels.

Despite the current month activity, the detached sector continues to demonstrate conditions that are more balanced compared to last year.

Apartment condominium product continues to face oversupply in the resale and new home sector, causing further price declines. In July, the apartment benchmark price was $266,200. This is a three per cent decline over last year and nearly 12 per cent below peak prices.

For a full analysis of the Calgary housing market in 2017, please refer to CREB®‘s 2017 mid-year update to be released in mid-August.

June spells a gradual recovery

Stable prices in detached sector signal balanced conditions despite increased inventory

Calgary’s housing market in June saw a modest improvement in sales along with an increase in new listings.

However, demand gains have not kept pace with the amount of new listings coming onto the market. This caused inventory levels to increase to 6,659 units, which is 11 per cent higher than last year’s levels.

Despite the recent shift in inventory this month, second quarter activity continues to demonstrate improved supply-demand balance and price stability. City wide benchmark prices totaled $441,500 in June. This is a 0.5 per cent gain over last month and nearly one per cent higher than last year.

“The supply gain this month will be monitored. However, on a quarterly basis, inventory levels remain comparable to last year, sales have improved and there have been modest price gains. All of this remains consistent with expectations of a gradual recovery,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

Year-to-date residential sales in Calgary totaled 10,322 units, which is 12 per cent above last year’s levels. New listings increased by three per cent over the same time period.

Overall, both the sales-to-new listings ratio and months of supply have trended down this year. This signals more stable pricing in the housing market this year.

“While there were many buyers waiting for lower prices to step into the housing market, there were also many sellers waiting until prices stabilized before listing their home,” said CREB® president David P. Brown.

“Some of this recent growth in listings will help provide more choice, particularly in the detached market where market conditions had significantly tightened over the past few months.”

Detached inventories and sales totaled 3,224 and 1,385 units, for a month of supply of 2.3 in June. Despite the recent rise in supply, over the first half of this year inventories have averaged 16 per cent below last year’s levels while sales are 13 per cent higher, keeping this segment in more balanced conditions.

While activity is also improving in the attached segment of the market, resale activity in the ownership of apartment-style product continues to face challenges with weak sales relative to listings and rising months of supply.

As of June, the unadjusted benchmark price for an apartment style product totaled $265,800. This is nearly four per cent below last year’s levels and 11 per cent below recent highs.

Housing market retains momentum in April

City-wide prices hold steady as labour market improves

Calgary’s housing market continued to show signs of stability in April. With improvements in the labour market and a balanced detached sector, city-wide benchmark prices reached $439,600 in April, similar to the previous month, but 0.90 per cent below last year’s levels.

“More jobs means less uncertainty for people who are sitting on the fence,” said CREB® president David P. Brown. “There also tends to be fewer people who need to sell when employment improves, and that can prevent inventory gains and further price reductions in the market. It’s a good scenario for sellers who are entering a spring market that’s in better shape than anything we’ve seen in recent years.”

While adjustments are still occurring in the apartment condominium sector, the detached segment of the market is improving across all price segments.

“Detached product has not faced the same supply pressure as the apartment sector,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “Detached supply from new construction didn’t surpass previous highs. That helped prevent steeper price adjustments in the detached sector when demand eased.”

The relationship between sales and inventory will be a key driver for pricing in the months ahead. Total transactions improved to 1,917 units in April, while inventories totaled 5,495 units, pushing months of supply below three for the second consecutive month.

With sales up and overall market inventory down, months of supply has already pulled back from elevated levels recorded over the past two years. While activity continues to vary by location and product type, more balanced conditions will help to support overall price stability.

“Improvements in the employment situation were necessary to prevent further declines in the housing sector,” said Lurie. “However, economic recovery is still expected to be slow, impacting the pace and quality of job growth. Based on current expectations this should translate into a more prolonged period of recovery in the housing market.”

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Housing market set for favourable lead into spring

Detached prices stabilize as city-wide inventory trends down

After a long period of disconnect between supply and demand, Calgary’s detached housing sector is firmly in balanced territory. Sales were still 10 per cent below long-term trends in March, but above levels seen in recent years, while average inventory declined compared to last year, supporting price stability in the detached market.

“It’s not so much that demand went through the roof in March, but that we had less supply come onto the market, which is really helping to balance things out,” said CREB® president David P. Brown. “These changes are lifting the cloud of uncertainty for housing consumers and nicely positioning our market as we move into the more active spring season.”

Unadjusted detached benchmark prices totaled $503,900 in March, 0.4 per cent above last month and similar to levels recorded last year. Meanwhile, Apartment and attached prices continue to remain well below levels recorded last year.

“Market conditions are quite different in the apartment sector,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “The additional supply coming from the new home sector is not easily reversed and the added competition is continuing to weigh on prices in the higher density sectors of the market.”

City-wide inventory levels totaled 5,114 in March, 16 per cent below last year’s levels. This is primarily driven by the 25 and 17 per cent contraction in the detached and attached markets. Inventory levels in the ownership apartment sector remain three per cent higher then levels recorded last year.

“The housing market transition in the first quarter appears to be consistent with trends in the labour market,” said Lurie. “However, the way the rest of the year unfolds will be largely determined by what happens in the next two quarters, as nearly 60 per cent of all housing sales typically occur in that time frame.”

A Transition in the Making!

Detached sales activity boosts February housing market

After the first two months of the year, Calgary’s detached sector continues to drive a slow transition in the housing market. February sales totaled 1,342 units, which is still 19 per cent below long-term averages, but an improvement over the past two years.

As sales kept trending upward, detached inventory levels continued to ease in February. These conditions caused months of supply to fall to 2.4 months, putting less downward pressure on pricing. Unadjusted detached benchmark prices totaled $501,900 in February, which is one per cent lower than prices recorded last year, but slightly higher than January figures.

“There seems to be a new sense of optimism these days,” said CREB® president David P. Brown. “Some sellers are feeling upbeat about the changing landscape and the improved chances of selling their home. Other people are looking at the spring market with caution and wondering if we’re going to see a higher than expected surge of listings. While there’s less product on the market right now, sellers still need to be realistic with their pricing.”

The amount of excess inventory eased in the overall market in February, setting the stage for a transition to a more stable market this year. Months of supply totaled 3.4 months, down from five months over last February. At the same time, the sales-to-new-listings ratio trended from a near record February low of 39 per cent last year to 55 per cent this February.

With sales improving and new listings and inventories contracting—two key measures of market balance, there’s good evidence to show that the housing market has started a trend toward more balanced conditions.

“The transition in the housing market appears to be underway,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lure. “However, it is important to note that this change is primarily being driven by improvements in the detached market and stability in the labour market.”

“It will take some time for these conditions to translate into all housing segments and achieve price recovery,” said Lurie. “But all indicators continue to point toward a slow transition from a contracting market toward one that is stabilizing at lower levels.”

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January market improves over last year!

For the fourth consecutive month, housing inventory levels have recorded year-over-year declines. At 4,112 total units, January’s inventory was 18 per cent below last year’s levels.

“While housing conditions continue to favour buyers, a slow transition toward more balanced conditions is helping to ease downward pressure on home prices,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “Conditions have improved over last year, but people need to remember that last year’s market was one of the weakest on record. Despite the appearance of a major shift in activity, the transition in the housing market is going to be a slow process.”

January sales totaled 947 units, 24 per cent above last year, but 21 per cent below 10-year averages for the month. Sales activity improved across all product types, but only when compared to the near record lows that occurred in January 2016.

The detached segment of the market is demonstrating the most improvement. Sales activity totalled 584 units in January, a considerable improvement over the 466 sales recorded last year. Inventories have also declined pushing the months of supply to 3.2 months well below the 5.4 months recorded in January 2016.

“This past month showed how the market never stands still,” said CREB® president David P. Brown. “The market isn’t expected to be as unpredictable in 2017, but it’s early in the year and there are still lots of unknowns that will shape decision-making for consumers.”

“Every transaction is a personal decision and anyone going through the process of buying and selling real estate will be trying to make the best decision for their family. They need to consider their long-term objectives and think about the price they are willing to accept or pay for a home.”

City-wide benchmark prices totaled $437,400, 0.16 per cent lower than last month and 2.82 per cent lower than last year’s levels. Since recent highs in 2014, residential prices have declined from a low of 4.9 per cent in the detached sector to highs of 11.5 per cent in the apartment condominium market.

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