Market relatively soft

The local real estate market remained relatively soft in September, with 122 homes selling through the Multiple Listing Service in Red Deer. That was down 34 per cent from September 2008, when there were 185 residential sales.

The local real estate market remained relatively soft in September, with 122 homes selling through the Multiple Listing Service in Red Deer. That was down 34 per cent from September 2008, when there were 185 residential sales.

In the surrounding region, 199 homes sold last month — a six per cent decline from a year earlier, when 212 homes were sold.

However, the Central Alberta Realtors Association said in a news release that new residential listings being added to the MLS system have been lower every month this year than in the corresponding period of 2008. As a result, the inventory of unsold homes has been shrinking.

The association calculated that current listings are enough to sustain the market for 7.4 months. In December, the inventory stood at 17 months.

It also pointed out that the year-over-year decline in homes sales in September was smaller than was the case earlier in 2009.

“The market is firming up,” said association president Derek Austin. “The number of new listings continues trending lower, so sales activity is paring down inventories.”

When adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, September sales were three per cent higher than in August and 48 per cent higher than in December.

The average price of homes sold in Red Deer last month was $297,657, whereas in September 2008 the average was 308,821.

Elsewhere in the region, the average selling price in September was $223,484, down from $254,982 a year earlier.

Earlier this month, Central Alberta Realtors Association past-president Randy Weins provided an analysis of single-family home sales during the third quarter of 2009. He expressed concerns that only 298 properties of this type were sold in Red Deer from July to September.

If these volumes remain low, prices could drop, he warned.

However, Weins also observed that the $320,000 median price of single-family homes sold in Red Deer during the past quarter was $15,000 higher than in the first quarter of 2009. It was only three per cent below the 2007 record of $330,000, he added, and 1.3 per cent lower than last year’s median.