Central Alberta house sales plummeted in April, as the pandemic kept people at home and rattled the economy.
There were 179 sales of all kinds throughout the region last month, compared with 352 in April of last year. The average number of April sales from 2019 to 2016 is 357.
Through five months, 812 sales were made in central Alberta, compared with 984 last year, according to statistics provided by the Central Alberta Realtors Association.
Red Deer saw 308 units sell through last month, down 23 per cent from 401 to the end of April 2019. In April alone, Red Deer sales dropped to 60 from 138 in April 2019 — a 56 per cent free fall.
The results do not come as a surprise. Realtors association president Allan Melbourne said deals often take a month or two to close, and it was clear weeks ago that April would be tough.
“Anything that closes in April would have been worked on in late February or March, and that, of course, was when COVID hit hard,” said Melbourne, a realtor with RE/MAX Real Estate Central Alberta.
“I expect May to be maybe a little bit better than April, but not much.”
Many people have been temporarily laid off or had their work hours cut back, reducing the pool of potential buyers.
As well, to limit the spread of COVID-19, open houses were cancelled across the country, although individual showings were allowed.
Melbourne said the real estate industry has begun talking with health officials about ways to gradually allow more open houses.
For instance, open houses may be allowed only for vacant homes at first, with limits on how many people can view at a time, along with additional sanitizing. Should those efforts prove safe, further moves to get back to normal can follow.
“We’re hoping that once these relaxations keep coming, we’re going to be able to catch up from the spring and do a little business.
“Slow and steady is going to win the race, I think.”
The average sale price of central Alberta properties was also down — $261,652 last month, compared with $301,822 in April 2019.
From 2019 to 2016, the average sale price has hovered around $295,000 to $315,000.
Year-to-date sales were down in almost all of central Alberta’s bigger communities. 2019 number are in brackets.
• Sylvan Lake — 69 (82)
• Lacombe — 49 (61)
• Blackfalds — 45 (66)
• Penhold — 11 (17)
• Innisfail — 21 (23)
• Ponoka — 18 (28)
• Rocky Mountain House — 19 (18)
• Stettler — 19 (22)