Archive for May, 2017

MARKET UPDATE – May 15, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Lacombe sales in the first two weeks in May were up from the same time in April, but down compared to the first two weeks of May 2016. The number of active listings is up slightly compared to last month and well up compared to last year at this time. Overall central Alberta MLS sales are up 7.5% year over year, a sign that the market is heading in the right direction.

There have been many reports that the Alberta economy is improving after two years of recession. Several leading economic indicators are referenced in support of that theory. Oil prices have spent most of 2017 hovering over US$50, just recently dropping under that magic mark. Ramped up production in the US and Canada has increased supplies again, driving prices down. Recent news that OPEC has stated they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep prices stable has pushed the price back closer to US$50 in the last few days.

No matter what the politicians tell us, the strength of the Alberta economy is still heavily reliant on energy. There is no doubt that higher prices have increased activity in our energy sector, and more economic activity in any sector helps boost all the other sectors. But to assume that will change the housing market overnight would be a bit of a stretch.

Many people employed by the energy industry are back at work, but at reduced incomes. Energy company profits are still thin, but those still in business have become much more efficient and able to survive in the new lower price reality. It will take some time for their employees to get back on their feet and start thinking about investing money in new homes.

In the meantime, the housing market has survived based on activity by those not as affected by energy prices. Those families have an amazing opportunity to take advantage of more choice, less competition, lower prices and very low interest rates. Those with 20% down payments are in the best position to take advantage.

Buyers with less than 20% down require their mortgages to be insured and the federal government made that much more difficult with rules that require buyers to qualify at a high artificial rate as opposed to the actual rate they can borrow at.

The purpose of that program was to slow down heated markets in Toronto and Vancouver. Unfortunately the policy was applied across Canada and has had a very negative effect on markets already affected by low energy prices.

In a nutshell, the central Alberta real estate market has survived and will continue to do so. Ample supply and low demand in virtually every price range have moved prices off their highs reached in 2014. Smart buyers will take advantage now if they can. It is difficult to go against the flow and easy to think that prices may still go lower, but once those economic indicators start to turn, it is likely real estate prices aren’t too far behind.

MARKET UPDATE – APRIL 30, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

The Lacombe market has recovered nicely this year with sales in the first four months up 14% over the same time last year, although April was a little slower.  The year to date increase is in direct contrast to what is happening in some other central Alberta markets, including Red Deer where sales for the same time are down year over year.  The number of active listings is higher than it was a year ago.  The inventory increase has kept the market in well into buyer’s territory.

What does the future hold?  As tough as the last two years have been, fortunately, it is looking brighter….

The Alberta Treasury Branch summed up the last two years in Alberta this way – Many Albertans felt it. And the latest numbers confirm it. Alberta’s economy contracted another 3.8 per cent in 2016. This follows a similar decline of 3.7 per cent in 2015.  It was the second consecutive year that real gross domestic product (GDP) contracted, the last time this happened was in 1982 and 1983….

The last couple of years have been tough for Albertans and the provincial economy. But it is expected to get better in 2017. ATB is forecasting real GDP growth this year in the two to three per cent range. This represents an end to two consecutive years of recession and welcomes in an era of modest growth.

MARKET UPDATE – April 15, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Year to date MLS sales of all types of properties in central Alberta are up 6.7% over the same period last year while residential sales in Lacombe were up 5.7%.

The Lacombe market started April almost as well as it did last year.  The number of active listings is up significantly while sales are off slightly.  The comments below from ATB suggest that the economy is on the mend and some of our laid off workers are going back on the job.  All good news, but they probably won’t start buying houses right away.  The next few months will be used to catch up, pay bills and get some stability back in their lives.  Buying a home is probably at least a few months away.

That leaves those who have maintained their jobs through the recession.  Those who are thinking about a move would be well advised to do it soon, before those laid off workers get back on their feet.  The situation couldn’t be more perfect to buy – low interest rates with the threat of increases soon, lots of good inventory and a market where supply outweighs demand all spell “opportunity”.

Excerpts from The Owl, by ATB Economics

Manufacturing getting a lift from stronger oil prices ….another in a string of indicators that suggest Alberta is shaking off the recession and heading towards better days in 2017. In February, the value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta rose to $5.7 billion, an increase of 1.4 per cent over January.

The news is even better than that. From its lowest point during the recession in January of 2016, manufacturing shipments in our province have now increased by 15 per cent. That’s not quite enough to get it back to the pre-recession highs, but it has been steadily increasing over the last 12 months.

Production is Up!  While Alberta has oil reserves, it doesn’t mean they will be produced. Massive amounts of investment, expertise, creativity and technology are needed to locate, extract, transport and sell oil. This is a risky business that is subject to complex market forces and public policy.

In addition to those challenges, Alberta is landlocked and the oil trapped in the oil sands is not as easy to extract as conventional crude—factors which put us at a disadvantage when it comes to transforming our oil resources into viable business ventures.

Despite these challenges, Alberta produced 137 per cent more oil in 2015 than it did in 1985. In 2014, Alberta’s total annual production rose above one billion barrels for the first time and reached 1.1 billion barrels (3.1 million barrels per day) in 2015. Production fell in 2016 by 17 per cent as a result of the Fort McMurray forest fires but – barring another natural disaster — should fully recover and increase again in 2017.

MARKET UPDATE – March 30, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Lacombe sales in the first quarter of 2017 were up from the same time in 2016 by 48% (12 sales).  That is good news that supports the theory that the economy is finally turning the corner.  The price of oil has remained relatively stable and activity in the oil patch keeps picking up, so we are likely on the road to a better market as the year progresses.  We don’t anticipate price inflation any time soon though, because the real estate market always lags behind the economy, often by a year at least.

The active listing count is a little higher than it was a year ago, so there should be ample product to satisfy most buyers, and interest rates remain very low, making this the very best time to consider a purchase.

One of the reasons the Alberta housing market has survived as well as it has, in spite of what we’ve been experiencing here, is that net population losses have been minimal.  According to ATB’s The Owl, over the last five quarters of recession, we’ve suffered a net population loss of only 11,000 people.

Compare that with the 20 quarters leading up to the 4th quarter of 2015 when Alberta welcomed more than 133,000 net new people to Alberta.  So, in spite of all our recent troubles, Alberta is obviously still a great place to live.

Dawn Parent, RE/MAX REAL ESTATE CENTRAL AB.
#1, 5265-45 STREET, Lacombe, Alberta, T4L 2A2
Tel: 403-782-4301 Fax: 403-782-2285
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