House sales finish stronger in 2016

Local realtors had a tough 2016 but there are signs of improvement

Central Alberta house sales finished 2016 down 12.6 per cent but there are signs the worst may be over.

Sales in December were up 15.4 per cent to 187 units, according to Multiple Listing Service statistics from the Central Alberta Realtors Association.

That was “unexpectedly strong” and well above the Alberta-wide growth pace of 3.2 per cent for December compared with a year earlier, says the association.

Larry Westergard, association executive officer, said after lagging behind last year most of the year sales numbers began to improve over the last couple of months of 2016.

“It looks like there has been a little bit of recovery as we end the year,” said Westergard on Tuesday.

“I think we still have to be cautiously optimistic.”

There has also been some better economic news in recent months, including President Donald Trump’s support Tuesday of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.

The impact of that positive news will take some time to be felt fully in housing markets.

“We can see the life preserver but we’re still treading water,” he said with a laugh.

Overall, it was a tough year in Central Alberta home sales as the economic downturn was felt. The 3,879 home sales recorded was down significantly from last year and slid 29.4 per cent from 2015, which was considered a very good year.

The value of home sales was $1.1 billion, down 14.8 per cent from a year earlier.

House prices do not seem to have been affected very much. The average sale price was $306,997, down 2.5 per cent from 2015.

The number of months of inventory was down slightly to 12.8 months last December down from 13.1 months a year earlier.

Inventory statistics reflect the number of months it would take to sell inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

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