With sales down 13 per cent from 2008 and the average price $7,450 lower, the post-mortem of Central Alberta’s residential real estate market last year might appear grim.
But a strong rebound at the end of the year provides reason for optimism.
The Central Alberta Realtors Association reported on Wednesday that 182 home sales in the region were processed through the Multiple Listing Service last month: 86 in Red Deer and 96 in the surrounding area. The total represented a 56 per cent jump from the 117 deals struck in December 2008, and marked the third consecutive month that the Central Alberta tally exceeded the number for the corresponding period in 2008.
In fact, last month was the fourth busiest December ever for Realtors with the association, trailing only 2007, 2006 and 2005.
“The strong sales momentum seen at the end of 2009 is likely to carry forward into the new year,” said Central Alberta Realtors Association president Derek Austin, in a news release.
“The significant recovery in demand, and accompanying return of average price growth to positive territory is beginning to draw more sellers back to the market.”
This assessment is reflected in the 345 homes that were added to Central Alberta’s MLS listings last month.
This figure was up 12 per cent from December 2008, and set a new record for the month. The city accounted for 120 of these new listings, with the rural area adding another 225.
However, the 1,838 active MLS listings at the close of 2009 were seven per cent fewer than the figure that ended 2008. The association has calculated that those listings represent a little more than 10 months of inventory, at current sales levels.
A year earlier, the inventory stood at 17 months.
In total, 3,684 MLS-listed homes sold in Central Alberta last year at an average price of $270,590.
Red Deer generated 1,671 sales with an average selling price of $298,581, while the outlying area produced 2,013 sales, with an average price of $247,354.
In 2008, there were 4,214 sales throughout the region, with their average price $278,040. This total included 1,952 in the city, with an average price of $307,935, and 2,262 outside Red Deer, with an average price of $252,242.
The Central Alberta Realtors Association has cautioned in the past that general price information may not reflect the actual prices of specific homes or areas.