New home sales rise

The frigid market for new homes could be into a spring thaw.

The frigid market for new homes could be into a spring thaw.

The Central Alberta branch of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association said in a news release on Tuesday that new home sales in Central Alberta during the first quarter of 2009 were up from the previous quarter. It added that members of its builder council have reported an increase in housing starts and sales across the region.

“We’ve all noticed a fairly substantial increase in sales, basically since the snow melted,” said branch president Jonas Neidert.

This was particularly true in March, he said, with the trend continuing this month.

Neidert, who is partner in Avalon Central Alberta, acknowledged that spring has historically been a busy period for home builders. Climactic conditions were particularly harsh this winter, which compounded the economic problems facing his industry.

But he’s still encouraged by renewed activity in recent weeks.

“It seems the traffic to the show homes is quite good. Maybe we’re returning to more the way it was a few years ago when spring was a really busy season.”

Neidert also suggested that many of the new homes being sold were built some time ago, and accordingly are not included in current construction stats.

“Permit numbers don’t always indicate the whole sales story.”

The local branch of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association also cited data indicating that the price of existing homes in Red Deer that sold twice between February 2008 and February 2009 increased by an average of 3.6 per cent.

Neidert added that local Realtors he’s talked to have indicated a rise in sales activity.

“It seems to be a general trend.”

The association provided information about the impact the housing industry has on the local economy. For instance, it said 1,570 jobs would likely result from the construction of 600 housing units in the region.

“I don’t think people realize how much it does contribute to the local economy overall,” said Neidert.

He believes federal stimulus programs will help the situation.

“I think it’s having a little bit of an impact.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com