Demand Down with Net Migration

Prices similar to last month, down more than four per cent from last year.

In step with City census data on declining net migration levels, housing sales activity totaled 1,741 units in July, a 12.6 per cent decrease over last year and the 20th consecutive month of year-over-year sales declines.

“Continued pullback of sales activity is a sign of economic conditions,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “The number of unemployed workers keeps rising and when you combine job losses with declining net migration, the result is going to be weaker housing demand.”

Slower sales were accompanied by declining new listings in July. This helped prevent further inventory gains and minimize the downward pressure on benchmark prices. By months end, the residential benchmark price was $440,000, similar to last month, but 4.2 per cent below July figures from the previous year.

While detached prices seem to be leveling, this is not the case for all property types. With over six months of inventory in the apartment sector, oversupply continues to create steep price declines.

The apartment benchmark price totaled $277,000 in July, a 0.4 per cent decline over the previous month and 6.6 per cent below last year’s levels.

City-wide benchmark prices for detached product totaled $502,300 in July, which is similar to last month, but 3.4 per cent lower than last year’s levels. Meanwhile, semi and row attached product recorded a year-over-year decline of 3.1 and 5.5 per cent for July prices of $385,200 and $310,300.

“To buyers and sellers that have been paying attention to the housing market in Calgary and surrounding areas, it should come as no surprise that we continue to see a slowdown in sales activity,” said CREB® president Cliff Stevenson. “Buyers are expecting further declines in sold prices, and sellers are adjusting to softer demand with price decreases. When these expectations intersect, we’re seeing sales activity in the market, but not at the level realized over the last several years.”

Sellers Continue to Adjust Pricing Expectations

Market imbalance in Calgary’s residential resale housing market continued to weigh on citywide prices in April.

Much like the previous month, year-over-year sales fell while new listings increased, resulting in inventory gains across all sectors of the market.

As a result, benchmark prices in the city declined by 0.4 per cent from last month, and 3.4 per cent from last year, to $441,000.

For sellers, the reality of seven consecutive months of price declines has started to sink in, said CREB® president Cliff Stevenson.

“From re-considering the listing of their home to lowering expectations on price, sellers are beginning to adjust to the current market reality,” he said. “However, some buyers in the market are still not willing to pull the trigger because they expect even bigger discounts. And so that gap between buyers’ and sellers’ expectations still persists across many product types and locations.”

Despite this, the detached sector fared better relative to the other sectors of the market. While detached sales activity has fallen by over four per cent so far in 2016 compared to last year, the sales to new listings ratio improved in April. This prevented sharper inventory gains and caused months of supply to move toward more balanced levels.

The same cannot be said of other market sectors. Year-to-date apartment and attached sales declined by a respective 19 and 13 per cent compared to last year. Slower sales, combined with rising inventories, ensured that market conditions continued to favour buyers in these segments.

“While the weak economic climate is influencing demand, the apartment and attached sectors are further impacted by increased supply in the competing new home sector and rental markets,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “This is one of the contributing factors to the steeper price declines recorded in the apartment sector.”

Since the start of the price declines, monthly unadjusted benchmark apartment prices have declined by 7.6 per cent, while semi, row and detached have declined by a respective 5.9, 4.6 and 4.1 per cent.

How to Prepare for a Bidding War

In many areas around Canada, low inventory is creating a bidding war between buyers. According to a recent study, more than one-third of Canadians are willing to enter a bidding battle for the home they want, up 21% from 2013.*

How can you outbid other buyers and get the house you love? Follow these simple tips:

  • Do your research. If you have your heart set on living in a certain neighbourhood, find out how long a typical home in that location sits on the market before selling and how much homes are selling for. This will give you a realistic estimate of what you can expect to spend.
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval, in addition to getting the rest of your finances in order, will help you figure out how much you can spend so that you don’t overextend yourself financially.
  • Maintain perspective. If your bid is rejected, it’s natural to become more aggressive when you bid on the next home. However, this may cause you to pay more than you had originally intended. While no one likes rejection, don’t take the bidding war too personally.
  • Have the cash to cover the difference between the negotiated price and the appraised value of the home. Mortgages often do not cover more than the home’s appraised value. Because appraisals are partially based on comparable sales in the area, it’s possible for the appraised value to be lower than the negotiated price due to foreclosed and distressed properties in the area. In this case, it’s helpful to have enough money saved to make up the difference.

*Source: Bank of Montreal, BMO Home Buying Report 2014