Sub-$50 oil has some Central Albertans reflecting fearfully on 2008 and the associated recession.
Not Lorna Moore.
The 2015 president of the Central Alberta Realtors Association sees a clear distinction between the global financial meltdown of seven years ago that spilled into Alberta and the current economic turmoil caused by tumbling oil prices.
“To me, it’s really important that people understand we’re not in the same position as 2008,” said Moore, who is broker-owner of Royal LePage Tamarack Realty in Rocky Mountain House.
In her forecast for 2015, which Central Alberta Realtors Association released on Wednesday, Moore pointed out that the international economy is stronger now than it was at the outset of the recession, led by a resurgent United States. But she added that this region’s residential resale market will start 2015 at a slower pace than last year, when home sales hit record levels.
“Probably the first quarter to first half will slow slightly, but we’re still confident that it will gain momentum as the year goes on.”
Moore anticipates a “stabilized market,” with a good balance between supply and demand.
“I think it works well for both buyer and seller, and for us in the industry as well.”
In 2014, sales of single-detached homes in Central Alberta through the Multiple Listing Service were up nearly 11 per cent over 2013, jumping to 3,465 from 3,133. Ponoka led the way with a 36 per cent spike, going to 122 from 90. Sylvan Lake was up 33 per cent, to 355 from 268; sales in Rocky Mountain House grew by 25 per cent, to 121 from 97; and in Blackfalds the increase was 27 per cent, to 243 from 191. Elsewhere in the region, single-family home sales were up six per cent in Stettler, to 94 from 89; five per cent in Red Deer, to 1,313 from 1,252; and two per cent in Innisfail, to 112 from 110.
Single-family sales in Lacombe last year slipped four per cent, to 185 from 192.
The average selling price of single family homes in Central Alberta ranged from a high of $388,583 in Red Deer to a low of $233,753 in Stettler. But average prices were up over 2013 levels in most communities, with only Stettler and Innisfail showing decreases.
Moore said a strong energy sector contributed to last year’s gains, but she isn’t expecting a significant reversal now that oil prices have come down. Many of the people she speaks with say activity in the oilpatch has slowed but that widespread job cuts haven’t occurred.
“We’ve done this before,” said Moore of the cyclical oil and gas sector. “We’ve always been resilient and we’ve come back.”
Moore also noted that the rental market remains tight, so some tenants are likely to take advantage of the current low interest rates and move into home ownership.