The post-boom real estate market

Once upon a time there was a real estate boom in Calgary. Yes, it’s hard to believe it was over five years ago that the market started taking off like a rocket ship.

January 2006 had a charming median single-family home price of $305,000. By September of the same year, that number would rise by $80,000 or 26%. After a little lull at the end of 2006, the charge began again in 2007, rocketing the median price from $368,000 before the year began to its peak of $439,000 in June 2007.

The average price peak was in July 2007 at $505,000 – some of you will remember hearing in the news that we broke the half-million-dollar mark for average home prices. That was the one and only month that we have been above $500K.

Fast forward to 2008. This was a year that saw an incredible amount of supply – over 31,000 listings that year – with a very limited amount of demand – just 13,500 sales. That number was a huge drop off the 19,000+ sales in 2006 and 18,000+ in 2007. Obviously, this supply/demand combination added up to declining prices and increasing days on the market to sell.

2008 would begin the trend that has been in place for the past 3+ years where we see a strong spring market ranging anywhere from February to June, a lull in July/August, a slight pickup for September/October and then a cold snap from November to January. There are many factors that affect this trend – many of them quite logical. Most families want to move in the summer so their kids can start a new school in September. With a 30-90 day possession period, this would mean making an offer in the spring. July and August see many individuals and families out of town for holidays with less focus on real estate – we almost always see the market slow down as soon as Stampede starts.

September brings everyone back into town  but as the year starts to wind down, and the weather cools, Calgarians seem less inclined to look at houses and don’t want to be moving during the holiday season.

If you compare, for example, the numbers for the month of August in ’08, ’09, ’10 and ’11, the median single-family price was $398,000, $399,000, $395,000 and $402,000 respectively. Although Calgary is a dynamic city with many reasons for economic optimism, that hasn’t translated into real estate growth of late.  After homeowners revelling in their home values increasing 40+% in 2006-07, the last four full years of real estate stats have had only a 12.5% variance in the median price.

So when I’m asked the question, is it a good time to buy? Is it a good time to sell? The answer comes down to your lifestyle. While some pessimistic speculators are predicting further drops in home prices, many others are predicting slow growth. Some industry insiders are even forecasting a substantial spike next spring.

We don’t – and can’t – know for sure when prices will go up or down, but we can look at the predictable trend of the last four years and take comfort in the fact that the Calgary market is, at worst, stable.

If you are moving to town, moving away, having a baby, kids moving out, getting married, getting divorced, getting a raise, getting a dog, tired of your current house, want to live in another neighbourhood, finally in position to buy your dream home or facing any other lifestyle issues, then yes, it can be a great time to move.

Interest rates are incredibly low, home prices are stable. Make your decision based on the life you want to create for yourself.

For more real estate stats or to chat further about how to achieve your lifestyle goals, call, email or text me!