Worst is behind for real estate

The local real estate market may not be entirely out of the recessionary woods — but it’s close.

Central Alberta Realtors Association president Patrick Galesloot speaks to reporters during a Friday news conference.

Central Alberta Realtors Association president Patrick Galesloot speaks to reporters during a Friday news conference.

The local real estate market may not be entirely out of the recessionary woods — but it’s close.

This was the outlook offered by Patrick Galesloot, 2011 president of the Central Alberta Realtors Association, during a news conference on Friday.

“I am confident that the worst is behind us as far as the decline in sale prices and believe that there’s increasing confidence in the real estate sector by buyers and sellers.”

Broker-owner of Century 21 Advantage in Red Deer, Galesloot pointed to strong residential sales volumes in the city the past few months as an indicator that better times are ahead.

“December was actually the second-highest December sales volume in the city of Red Deer that we had on record.”

He said rising oil prices have given renewed vigor to the energy sector, and the real estate market tends to follow that industry.

Galesloot is forecasting “modest growth” in sales this year — in the three to four per cent range.

“The growth in the real estate market experienced by realtors should strengthen during the second and third quarter of 2011.”

But, he added, the market is still in transition and his positive outlook assumes that demand for housing will grow.

“If that demand does not come, we’re going to have another challenging year.”

For homeowners with memories of fierce competition between buyers and skyrocketing prices, Galesloot pointed out that 2006 and 2007 were an “anomaly.”

Last year was a buyers market, he said, with lots of homes to choose from and flexible prices.

“It’s no secret that in 2010 it was difficult to sell your home.”

The Central Alberta Realtors Association processed 3,006 MLS sales last year, down 22.5 per cent from the 3,684 recorded in 2009. Sales in the city totalled 1,276, a 24 per cent drop from the 1,672 in 2009; while sales in the rest of the association’s area reached 1,730, a decline of 14 per cent from 2,012.

The year was marked by monthly price swings in Red Deer, with average prices ranging from $430,000 to $372,000.

Sales of higher-end homes contributed to these fluctuations, said Galesloot.

“In 2010, we had more homes sell in the higher-end price ranges than any other year.”

Five topped the $1 million mark, he said.

“This is an indicator of a stronger recovering economy in the Red Deer and Central Alberta region.”

Galesloot also noted that median prices throughout Central Alberta increased as 2010 progressed.

“This points to the closing stages of the economic downturn.”

Statistics provided by the Central Alberta Realtors Association showed a year-over-year decline in sales of single-family dwellings throughout the region, but with median prices generally up.

In Red Deer, single-family dwelling sales last year numbered 980, down from 1,135 in 2009. The median price climbed to $317,000 from $316,000.

In Blackfalds, sales in this category slipped to 104 from 107, with the median price rising to $292,000 from $273,000. Sales in Innisfail tumbled to 77 from 115, with the median price sliding to $262,000 from $265,000.

Single-family dwelling sales in Lacombe were down by one in 2010, to 162. The median price rose to $307,000 from $301,000.

In the case of Ponoka, sales of single-family dwellings dropped to 65 from 88, while the median price climbed to $244,000 from $225,000.

In Rocky Mountain House, single-family dwelling sales last year numbered 61, down from 95. The median price rose $3,000 to $285,000.

Sales in Stettler were down to 60 last year, as compared with 83 in 2009. The median price was also down, to $212,000 from $228,000.

Finally, single-family sales in Sylvan Lake last year totalled 203, off from 225 the previous year. The median price was unchanged, at $328,000.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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