It may be too soon to say central Alberta’s real estate market has officially rebounded but it is heading in the right direction.
Through the first quarter of this year, 1,432 residential units have been sold, nearly double the 751 that changed hands in the first three months of 2020, according to Multiple Listing Service statistics provided by the Central Alberta Realtors Association (CARA).
Significantly, the bounce back covers a period mostly before the impact of the pandemic began to be felt. The first health restrictions, which saw businesses shut down, were rolled out in mid-March.
In the month of March, 649 residential units — 80 per cent of them detached homes — were sold, compared with 294 in March 2020.
In Red Deer, 422 homes have been sold so far this year, compared with 249 over the first three months of last year. In March, there were 186 sales compared with 101 in March 2020.
Average sale prices — which can fluctuate significantly if a number of higher-priced homes sell — are also up over last year in central Alberta. The average sale price has crept up to $339,892 this year, compared with $287,631 in the first quarter of 2020. In Red Deer, the average sale price is $328,624, compared with $314,491 a year ago.
CARA president Lindsay Olver said while sales numbers are strong it is a little soon to call it a recovery.
“I don’t think we have recovered completely yet,” said Olver, who is a realtor with Red Deer’s Coldwell Banker Ontrack Realty. “Our sales are the highest since 2007 but our prices haven’t recovered quite yet but we’re pretty close to it.”
“I wouldn’t say we’re there yet, but we’re on the road to recovery for sure,” she said, saying an analyst who spoke at a recent event she attended estimated it will take another year for real estate to fully bounce back.
Rock-bottom interest rates are helping and pent-up demand is also playing a role.
While the pandemic had a huge impact on the prime spring selling season, 2020 started off strongly and finished strongly, which has continued into this year.
Olver said sales in April remain positive with no signs the momentum is slowing down.
Communities throughout central Alberta are showing big increases in sales.
This year’s sales with 2020 in brackets: Blackfalds 82 (37), Innisfail 25 (18), Lacombe 62 (40), Ponoka 27 (13), Rocky Mountain House 26 (14), Stettler 26 (12) and Sylvan Lake 108 (50).