Housing market still trailing behind

Activity in Central Alberta’s resale housing market continues to lag behind last year’s pace, despite a rebound on the national stage.

Activity in Central Alberta’s resale housing market continues to lag behind last year’s pace, despite a rebound on the national stage.

The Central Alberta Realtors Association reported on Monday that 371 homes in the region were sold through the Multiple Listing Service last month. That’s down 14 per cent from August 2008, when 432 residential properties were sold.

In Red Deer, 163 deals were completed in August, as compared with 204 a year earlier. There were 208 sales outside the city last month, down from 228.

The average price in Red Deer last month was $289,122, while outside the city it was $246,245.

Last week, the Canadian Real Estate Association announced that MLS sales activity Canadawide in August was up 18.5 per cent from the year-ago level. For Alberta, the increase was eight per cent.

“Low interest rates and excellent affordability continue to draw home buyers to the housing market,” said Derek Austin, president of the Central Alberta Realtors Association, in a news release. “Consumer sentiment about making a major purchase, such as car or home, continued improving in August, which bodes well for activity in the months ahead.”

Austin was unavailable for comment on Monday, but last month suggested that the more favourable numbers for the country could reflect the fact that smaller markets like Red Deer tend to trail bigger centres. He said big cities, such as Calgary and Edmonton, experienced a downturn in home resale volumes and prices before Red Deer did.

New residential MLS listings in Central Alberta for August declined relative to the previous year for the eighth consecutive month. They numbered 665, down 17 per cent from August 2008.

The Central Alberta Realtors Association said there were enough homes on the market in August to last 6.9 months at the current rate of sales activity. Last December, the inventory stood at 17 months.