Sales down, prices up: is this a stable market?

by Olivia D'Orazio05 May 2015
Ahead of today’s provincial election, a new housing report is showing signs of a relatively stable market, despite lower oil values and fewer sales.
According to the Edmonton Real Estate Board, sales during the month of April were down 13 per cent from the year-ago period, though median prices rose 2.6 per cent.
“I’m in my 31st year in real estate in Edmonton and I’ve never quite seen the market like this,” says sales rep, Duane Ritter. “The attitude out there is very much wait-and-see. Even where we do have oversupply, nobody is adjusting.”
Indeed, Ritter says buyers are putting off purchases in light of some job losses and a certain level of economic uncertainty, while sellers are opting to remain steadfast and hold listing prices at the values they were at before the oil shock.
Still, the condo market in areas outside of the city’s downtown core will suffer, Ritter says, pointing to the oversupply of units in Edmonton’s suburbs.
“Where I’m concerned is when you get into the outlying areas,” he explains. “The downtown core – this generation wants to be in the downtown, close to everything. Edmonton is a very spread out town, so a lot of the condos … are 150 blocks from our downtown core, and now young people have a choice.”
According to the EREB, the condo market is still moving, albeit much slower than in past. Condos across the region realized a 26.4 per cent drop in sales during the month of April, compared to the year-ago period. Median price, however, remained flat year-over-year.
Sales in the detached market were also down, falling 19.5 per cent from April 2014. Median prices, like those in the condo market, however, were not impacted by a lack of sales. Instead, median price in the single-family sector rose 2.24 per cent from the year-ago period.
“I’ve never seen (the market) like this – which is a good thing,” Ritter says. “We’re not getting a reaction; people are saying let’s see what happens with oil, let’s see what happens with the election. In the past, there would be a knee jerk reaction.”

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