Continued growth forecast for sales and prices in Calgary, housing market


CALGARY — Every housing category in Calgary’s resale market, including surrounding towns, is expected to see continued sales and price growth this year, according to the latest Calgary Real Estate Board annual forecast which was released Wednesday.

But the rate of growth will moderate.

Overall, CREB said total MLS® sales in the city would jump by 2.2 per cent in 2013 to 21,669 transactions while the average benchmark price would rise by 2.9 per cent to $392,469.

Year-over-year sales grew by 14.66 per cent in 2012 from the previous year. In 2012, the benchmark price reached $381,408, up five per cent from 2011.

“Slower growth trends in employment combined with lower migration estimates will impact sales growth across all resale sectors, and, as listings continue to decline, this will further dampen sales growth, particularly in the single-family market,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist. “However, as the overall market remains well supplied, prices will continue to grow but not at the levels seen in 2012.”

The following is CREB’s forecast for sales and benchmark prices for the separate housing categories with percentage change in brackets: single-family homes, 15,381 (1.8 per cent), $437,449 (3.0 per cent); condo apartment, 3,613 (3.2 per cent), $250,872 (2.4 per cent); condo townhouse, 2,675 (3.0 per cent), $284,928 (2.8 per cent); and surrounding towns, 4,093 (3.1 per cent), $329,544 (2.2 per cent).

“We have just have finally started to recover,” said Lurie of the housing downturn a couple of years ago. “So our prices still remain below peak pricing that we saw in 2007. We’re continuing to move towards that level. And we do expect to continue to see growth but it’s not a story of well we’re going crazy. There’s nothing like that happening. It’s just moving to more normal levels of activity with continued moderate price growth.”

Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial, said Calgary continues to buck the national downward trend in real estate.

“Given the high level of incomes, the low borrowing costs, and strong in-migration, the market is likely to remain in balance in 2013,” he said. “There has been no evidence of price bubbles building - and with some moderation in Alberta’s economy in 2013, real estate prices should continue to make steady, healthy gains.”

Becky Walters, CREB’s president, said the city and surrounding areas are seeing good resale activity.

“We have a nice, balanced market, and it’s expected to see some growth this year,” said Walters. “Although some big markets in Canada are stumbling, Calgary is hot on the heels of a year of recovery, with the forecast saying the market is going to stay in positive territory.

“We are in a solid, steady, forward market. The type of market we were in back in the (2006, 2007) with the lack of inventory and a lot of people coming that were qualified easily for mortgaging, we aren’t in that kind of scenario anymore . . . People are looking at investing for long-term investment now. Looking at a lifestyle investment rather than a quick make a dollar type of thing.”

While the overall picture is positive, Lurie said there remain some risks for the housing market.

“The largest risk in our market is related to concerns in the oil sector,” she said. “They are facing pipeline constraints and lack of access to more diverse markets, impacting the price they receive for their oil. If the discounts on our oil persist, this clearly could impact the job sector and, ultimately, the housing market.”

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