July home sales in Central Alberta were as hot as the weather, with a record-breaking number of houses sold.
It was the best July ever and the fifth best month of all time.
There were 582 houses sold last month through the Multiple Listing Service, a 12 per cent jump over July 2013, when 517 changed hands, according to statistics released on Tuesday by the Central Alberta Realtors Association.
Home sales in all of Alberta paled in comparison, rising only five per cent over the same month last year ago.
It is shaping up to be an excellent year for local realtors. In the first seven months of the year, home sales are up 13 per cent — that is only 1.3 per cent shy of 2007’s record year.
Association president Dawn Parent said there are a few positive factors that are giving home markets a boost.
“No. 1, our unemployment rate for all of Alberta is really, really strong,” said Parent. Statistics Canada listed Alberta’s unemployment rate at 4.7 per cent last month, one of the lowest in the country and well below the seven per cent national average.
Economically, the province and region are also doing well. A recent Alberta Treasury Branch report showed Alberta manufacturing exports were at an all time high. Most of that is driven by the oilpatch and that bodes well for communities such as Red Deer, which is a significant oilfield services centre.
Those kinds of economic good news stories have not been lost on job seekers, who are moving to the area and need housing.
“The majority of the people who I have found who are moving to Central Alberta are in some sort of oilfield-related work,” said Parent, a realtor based out of Lacombe with 11 years of experience.
“There are lots of new-built houses to keep up with what the demand is. The number of active listings remain stable.”
Also, despite occasional rumblings that interest rates are due to increase, it hasn’t happened. Fears that banks would tighten mortgage requirements enough to keep people out of the housing market also hasn’t materialized.
“It’s been fairly steady,” she said, adding few clients have been turned down for home loans.
House prices have mostly recovered from the economic downturn, with the exception of the highest end homes.
“It shows that the confidence is returning, or has returned basically, especially Central Alberta but I think all of Alberta.”
Parent said August has already been a solid month, although it has cooled slightly, which is typical because so many people are on holiday.
The fall push will indicate how close the year comes to the annual record.
“I think it will be close,” she said.
The number of listings is also up, with 932 available in July, up five per cent from a year ago and another record.
Average price of houses sold in the region is $304,270, a light 1.2 per cent drop from last year at this time.
Specific Red Deer statistics are no longer available through the realtors association.
Central Alberta Realtors Association is an MLS listing co-operative that represents 560 realtors in Red Deer and Central Alberta.