Central Alberta’s 2018 real estate scene stayed true to pattern.
With a handful of exceptions, the number of homes sold in a cross section of central Alberta was remarkably close to last year — and 2016, for that matter.
Sylvan Lake saw 295 homes changing hands last year, almost identical to the 302 sold in 2017, and not too far off the 261 sold in 2016.
In Lacombe, 194 homes sold in 2018, up from 177 a year earlier, and almost identical to the 195 sold in 2016.
Blackfalds, which was coming off a hot 2017, saw 210 homes sold in 2018, compared with 242 the previous year. Go back to 2016, and again the number of homes sold is almost identical at 217.
As the Red Deer Advocate reported earlier this month, Red Deer’s numbers follow a similar trend: 1,331 homes were sold last year, down from 1,397 in 2017 and 1,522 in 2016.
In the smaller communities, the flat market is often even more pronounced. Rocky Mountain House was a model of consistency, with 89 homes sold last year, 90 in 2017 and 87 in 2016.
Stettler’s numbers follow a similar pattern: 82 last year, 94 in 2017 and 87 in 2016. For Ponoka, the numbers are 92 last year, 89 in 2017 and 110 in 2016.
Central Alberta Realtors Association president Richard Pochylko said that trend is typical.
“There’s not a lot of growth, but there’s not a lot of loss,” he said of smaller communities. “Somebody dies and somebody moves to town.
“They stay very stable and their prices usually don’t fluctuate. They’ll go up and down, but they don’t fluctuate wildly.”
Taking all of the central Alberta municipalities and counties together, the numbers are still unusually close, especially over the past two years, with 3,720 sales recorded last year, almost a carbon copy of the 3,713 a year earlier. In 2016, the number was 3,800 — a mere two per cent difference.
“The units sold are staying stable, the prices, especially this year, have dropped considerably,” said Pochylko.
The best scenario is for the market to continue to grow slowly, rather than have house prices soar and then crash, he said.
Pochylko was at a recent meeting where four economists predicted slow growth for Alberta.
Central Alberta house sales are about where they were in 2011, when they hit 3,889. But then came three years of spectacular growth, as the economy was running full throttle. In 2012, 4,346 properties sold; in 2013, there were 4,755 sales and 2014 saw 5,364 sold.
Then oil prices began to tank and sales were down to 4,319 in 2015.