Investors face competition in Calgary

Overall residential sales were up 26% in April compared to a year ago, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board’s latest monthly report. The benchmark house price in the MLS Home Price Index for the city was up 5.5% in April from last year, reaching $449,500.

But the bigger picture is that the activity was so low last year that even a 26% gain in sales reflects only a return to moderate levels, says the CREB report. A returning confidence to the market has only just begun, in other words.

“The growth in full-time employment, combined with improving migration levels, is translating into improved demand for housing," said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB chief economist. “While sales growth does seem exceptionally strong, it is important to keep in perspective that the sales activity in Calgary is returning to levels more consistent with the long-term average.”

This is no boom market like Calgary has experienced before, however, as strong supply is keeping prices from rising too high.

“While the balance between demand and supply in the single-family market has shifted towards sellers’ territory, there are several components that make today’s market different from five years ago,” said Bob Jablonski, president of CREB. The primary difference, he said, is supply, and so the increasing demand is largely being absorbed by new home builders.

Most of the increase in sales this year has been in single family homes. Condos sales were up just 2.2% in April, while new condo listings were up 5.9%. Single family home sales were up 31% in April compared to last year, while new listings remained unchanged. The average days on market for a single-family home dropped from 41 days last April to 38 a year later. Condos are still taking 50 days on average to sell, similar to the 51 a year earlier.

“As confidence in the local housing market continues to build, we anticipate a rise in demand, followed by improved listings from those waiting to see some price appreciation prior to listing their home,” said Jablonski.

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