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Real estate sales bouncing back

Last month was the best August in four years

August home sales in central Alberta were the best they’ve been in four years.

There were 493 homes sold in the region last month, up 22 per cent from the 403 sold in 2019, and just ahead of 2018, when 489 home sales were made.

In 2017, there were 472 homes sold in August, according to multiple listing services statistics compiled by the Central Alberta Realtors Association.

“August was a banner month, no doubt about it,” said association president Allan Melbourne, a realtor with Re/Max Real Estate Central Alberta.

Much of the surge in interest can be attributed to pent-up demand and improved optimism following a spring that was hit hard by the pandemic and low world oil prices.

“We basically missed the spring market. Things were shut down,” said Melbourne. “Every year, March, April and May are the busiest three months.

“This year, there was some activity, but it was few and far between. It wasn’t the usual spring market.”

Central Alberta house sales improving

Signs of a turnaround could be seen at the beginning of the summer, he said.

“It started in June. We got a bit of an inkling things were starting to bubble,” he said, adding that August home sales statistics typically represent deals that were in the works up to two months earlier.

Home sales for the year continue to lag behind previous years. Through eight months this year, 2,761 sales were counted, compared with 2,904 over the same period in 2019.

In 2018, there were 3,182 sales, and in 2017, 3,111 sales to the end of August.

It is probably a long shot that the current momentum will be enough to match last year’s numbers, although September has been busy so far.

“If September is as good as August, we’ll have a chance,” he said.

Realtor association executive officer Larry Westergard said the market is showing signs of improvement after a tough year.

“The market is still climbing out of COVID, with sales for the year about 13 per cent lower than last year,” said Westergard. “This can be laid at the door of COVID and the restrictions on interactions.”

The pandemic arrived during the traditionally busy spring retail market, bringing with it economic and employment uncertainty, which had many putting a hold on home-buying ambitions.

For sellers, there is some positive news in that inventories have fallen by 13 per cent, which means prices have remained fairly stable.

The average sale price in central Alberta is $310,802 this year, up from $295,774 in 2019 and $299,821 in 2018, but down from $320,515 in 2017.

In Red Deer, 2020 sales continues to trail recent years. There were 800 homes sold to the end of August, compared with 915 in 2019, 982 in 2018 and 960 in 2017.

However, August showed signs of a modest rebound, with 133 keys changing hands, up from 117 last year and 131 in 2018. In 2017, there were 152 August sales.

According to Re/Max statistics, the most active price range for sales is $300,000 to $350,000. The least active price range covers homes selling for more than $550,000. The most expensive Red Deer home sold in August went for $940,000.

House sales through August in surrounding communities (2019 in brackets)

• Sylvan Lake — 187 (190)

• Lacombe — 143 (141)

• Blackfalds — 107 (132)

• Innisfail — 71 (82)

• Penhold — 32 (38)

• Ponoka — 57 (68)

• Stettler — 48 (58)

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Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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