First quarter activity reflects economic uncertainty
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Elevated inventory levels and low sales for three consecutive months caused unadjusted benchmark prices to ease by 0.44 per cent in March, relative to the previous month, for a total of $454,300. Based on first quarter statistics, conditions are consistent with buyers’ market conditions.
Typical home prices have declined by 0.59 per cent in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the fourth quarter of 2014. The sales to new listings ratio also dropped to 41 per cent and months of supply averaged 4.03 for the quarter. This is a significant change from one year ago when the market was facing inventory shortages and price gains.
“Based on current sales activity and rising supply levels, the change in pricing does not come as a surprise,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “However, the recent price adjustments have not eroded all the higher than expected price gains recorded last year. While conditions have likely tempered growth in new listings, further near term price adjustments will be dependent on changes to inventory levels.” said Lurie.
Sales activity fell by nearly 30 per cent in March, compared to this time last year, and remains well below 10-year averages. City of Calgary sales totaled 3,843 units at the end of the first quarter.
“In this market, buyers and sellers should be thinking about their short term and long term objectives,” said CREB® president Corinne Lyall. “This is a challenging economic time and people need to know their long game, so they can make the right real estate choices for today and tomorrow.”
While Calgary’s housing market has demonstrated buyer market conditions for the first quarter, the recent pullback in new listings in March has helped ease the growth in inventory levels, resulting in better absorption rates.
The apartment sector has the highest months of inventory in Calgary. This has resulted in higher quarterly price declines in this sector, when compared to the detached and attached sectors. By the end of March, the apartment quarterly benchmark price declined by 1.46 per cent, against the previous quarter. This compares to the 0.4 per cent declines in the detached and attached sector over the same time frame.
“Market influence is always wide-ranging and everyone has different reasons for making a move,” said Lyall. “Consideration must be given to the amount of inventory that’s available for a similar property based on the specific features of that home. The amount of competition for a property is often what influences the price that buyers and sellers will agree on.”
When considering the inventory that is available in the City of Calgary, there are 878 units priced under $300,000, of which 99 per cent are either apartment or attached product. The majority of inventory falls in the range of $300,000 to $600,000, of which 56 per cent of the product is detached. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, there are 1,933 units in inventory at a price over $600,000, of which more than 72 per cent are detached homes.
“Concerns in the energy sector continue to persist, and employment figures are starting to support those concerns,” said Lurie. “In February, employment figures pointed towards job losses related to the energy sector. While monthly employment gains offset the losses, most of the gains were in the traditionally lower paying industries such as the personal services sector. If this trend continues, it may influence the composition of housing demand,” said Lurie.