The new president of the Central Alberta Realtors Association anticipates good things in 2014.
“We expect a really good year, a really strong year,” said Dawn Parent. “I think that just shows that the confidence of people, throughout Alberta, is coming back.”
That confidence reflects Alberta’s strengthening economy, she said, which in large part is being fueled by the energy sector.
Parent believes 2013, which saw home sales in Red Deer increase by 7.2 per cent over the previous year, marked the transition to a more balanced market.
“I think it will stay balanced,” she said, “except maybe in some of those areas where the inventory is low.”
For 2014, Parent is predicting sales growth of about four to five per cent. She described this as being “fairly stable.”
“I don’t expect a huge increase in prices,” she said, estimating an average rise of about $10,000 over 2013 prices across Central Alberta.
Parent noted, however, that the situation will vary from community to community.
In Lacombe, for instance, where she is based as a Realtor with Re/Max Real Estate Central Alberta, the inventory of listings is low — which could push prices up.
She contrasted that with the numbers in Red Deer.
“Right now Red Deer has, I think, a fair amount of inventory and there are lots of new builds going up.”
When it comes to specific types of housing, Parent thinks supplies of single-detached homes in the $250,000 to $350,000 range will be tight.
“There are a lot of buyers out there that are looking in that price range and there’s not a lot available.”
Not only are first-time home-buyers interested in such houses, in many cases motivated by a scarcity of rental accommodation, other people simply like the idea of minimizing their mortgage debt — particularly with the economic downturn still fresh in their minds.
“They’re being a little more cautious about how much they’re borrowing and how much they can afford for payments.”
Parent also sees the in-migration of people to Alberta as boosting demand for less-expensive homes.
Many newcomers want to establish themselves before buying a big home, or choose cheaper homes until they can decide where and how they want to live.
Parent has also observed a growing demand for homes in multi-family dwellings like townhouses and condominiums.
“That’s happening in Calgary, that’s happening everywhere.”
For people who are planning to purchase a home, Parent recommends that they get their financing approved before starting their search. This will ensure they know what they can afford, and reduces the risk of a deal going sour
“The banks are tightening up, and we’ve had a lot of deals fall due to financing.”
Parent grew up in Ponoka, but has lived in Lacombe for the past 35 years. She previously worked in the banking industry, and spent more than two decades on Lacombe municipal council.