Spring Real Estate Market Underway in Edmonton

This is a GREAT article on how to look at things. Edmonton, just like Calgary, is seeing lots of in-migration which is also supporting their home prices.

Spring Real Estate Market Underway in Edmonton

Low inventory is causing rapid growth in the average price of real estate in Edmonton. The interesting thing is that the inventory is low because there are fewer new listings than we typically see at this time of year, not because of increased sales.

As you can see below, the inventory of properties for sale is significantly lower than we typically see in March. There were 4,741 properties available on the MLS® system at the end of March – down 15.4% from the same time last year.

Edmonton Real Estate Inventory

Alberta’s population expanded by 3.04% in 2012, nearly three times the national average. 46,000 Canadians move to Alberta from other provinces last year, just beneath the record levels seen in 2006, leaving many people wondering – where is our boom?

“The great mystery here is that we’ve had phenomenal employment growth, very strong income growth, very strong net in-migration, and yet it hasn’t poured over into the housing market yet,” says John Rose, chief economist for the City of Edmonton.

“These are unprecedented levels of in-migration into the province, so this (the relative stability in house prices) has kind of mystified us,” says Richard Goatcher, economic analyst with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association-Alberta.

From my perspective, there are a number reasons we are (thankfully) not seeing a repeat of 2007:

  • It’s harder to get financing than it was in 2007. Back then it seemed like the banks approved just about anything, today they are being much stingier.
  • Lack of speculation: in ’07 everyone and their brother wanted a piece of the action, and a lot of people bought properties (especially new homes) to flip… a lot of those people still own those properties 5 years later.
  • Low vacancy rate: this situation typically leads to higher sale prices, but in this case I believe it is leading to low inventory. For years now we’ve heard “if I can’t sell it for the price I want I’ll just rent it out” and I think a lot of people have their investment properties rented out to good tenants. Why sell when you’re finally making money by renting?
  • Lower consumer confidence – no matter what is happening locally, the news from Toronto, Vancouver and around the world does not encourage people to jump into the market.

Of course, as Don Campbell recently reminded us, real estate is local:

“At no other time in history has the real estate market in Canada been so regional… Alberta’s population is growing substantially, especially with that younger age cohort. They come out here to get a job and make $80,000 instead of $30,000 back home. And once they’re here, they discover Alberta is a pretty cool place to live, but it takes awhile for that to kick in, often about two years. So I’m very bullish on the direction that the market is going to be taking over the next portion of the cycle, say the next three, five or seven years.”

With all that said, we did see a significant jump in the average sale price of residential real estate in Edmonton in March. The residential average was $354,759 in March, up 4.3% from $340k last year and $343k last month. The median price did not jump as much and was $329,700 in March, up from $323k last year and $320k last month.

Edmonton Average Real Estate Price

Sales are up, but they would be up higher if there were more homes on the market. There were 1497 sales in March, up from 1480 last year and 1068 last month.

When first time buyers cannot find a house that meets their needs or are forced into a multiple offer situation, they often remain on the sidelines,” said REALTORS® Association of Edmonton President Darrell Cook. “Low interest rates and rising rental rates create the interest and desire but lack of suitable properties means they are not able to make the transition to home ownership at this time.”

Edmonton MLS® Sales

The number of new listings were significantly down from previous years – there were 2422 new listings in March compared to 2847 last year and 1995 last month.

New Listings