Home sales in March jumped 19 per cent in Red Deer compared to a year ago, making it the second-best first-quarter total on record, according to the Alberta Real Estate Association.
Larrissa Kalyn, board chair with Central Alberta Realtors Association, said a rise in sales is anticipated for the second quarter as well. She said the amount of inventory declines in the summer, so sales will likely slow down.
A total of 499 units were sold in Red Deer during the first quarter, including 202 in March.
The association’s latest report, available at www.albertarealtor.ca, said that while new listings increased compared to levels in the past six months they were still lower than last March, and did little to change the inventory situation in the city.
At 432 units, inventory levels last month were over 20 percent below long-term averages.
Kalyn said a lot of people are talking about the shortage of housing in Alberta, and builders are more focused on supplying higher-end homes.
“They’re building homes $350,000 and up. The people who are starting to get (into the market) and wanting a new home, they just don’t have the option. It cuts people out.”
She said people will continue to buy sooner rather than later if they can, especially with an increase in mortgage rates anticipated in the fall and more industries setting up shop in Alberta.
“We’re starting to see the migration of people who went out of province are actually starting to come back.”
Despite tighter market conditions, average prices dropped by nearly two percent so far year to date in the city.
The average residential property price in Red Deer was $334,373. Detached homes averaged $390,761, semi-detached homes averaged $286,192, row houses were at $209,920, and apartments averaged $185,478.
The Alberta Real Estate Association said the decline in prices may reflect the fact that more sales were in the lower price range at the end of the first quarter.
The province saw sales climb 34 per cent to 24,174 units in the first quarter compared to last year.
Inventory levels remained 25 per cent lower than last March, and 30 per cent lower than is typical at this time of the year.
The average home price in Alberta increased by over 10 percent after the first quarter. The average price in March was $472,746.
Provincially, prices have improved across all property types, but detached homes saw the biggest increase with year-to-date gains of almost 15 percent.