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In Canada’s housing market, Calgary is a positive outlier

A residential area is under construction at the old Currie Barracks in Calgary in 2010. Calgary’s housing market is currently hotter than other major Canadian cities.

Chris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

7.2% – Increase in Calgary housing sales from a year ago in December.

How 2012 shaped up

Calgary is a positive outlier when it comes to the housing market, but in many ways it is just playing catch-up. Canada's housing market slumped in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and then generally bounced back. But the recovery lagged in Calgary.

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Now the city is seeing both sales and prices rise more quickly than elsewhere, supported in part by its energy-based economy. Calgary's MLS Home Price Index rose 7.4 per cent in December from a year ago, well above the national average of 3.3 per cent.

New listings in the city fell 12.6 per cent from a year ago in December, while sales rose 7.2 per cent. Listings declined over the course of 2012, while sales rose, supporting prices.

Local perspectives

For home seller Debbie Fellows, Calgary's real-estate market has already taken an unexpected turn for the better in 2013.

Ms. Fellows and her husband, Tom, listed their extensively renovated single-family home in Cliff Bungalow, a trendy inner-city neighbourhood just south of Calgary's downtown, last September. They thought it might be a good time to list what Ms. Fellows describes as an "executive" home because the available inventory in their postal code was low. "Our area is a popular area and the market had quieted. There were not many sales over the summer and early part of the fall."

Although a few people expressed an interest in the house throughout the fall, the couple didn't receive any actual bids.

"Other homes in Cliff Bungalow listed and sold. Ours didn't. But we weren't prepared to let ours go for what some of the other homes were selling for because we had so much more to offer," says Ms. Fellows, who works for oil giant Cenovus.

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Since they weren't in a rush to sell and wanted a break from showings, they let the listing expire before Christmas with a plan to relist in the new year.

But last weekend, before their real-estate agent could even pound a new "For Sale" sign into the ground, a couple who had viewed the home several times in the fall made them an offer.

Ms. Fellows and her husband are now looking for a new property with more square footage in an up-and-coming neighbourhood north of the river, and closer to the airport – to ease their busy travel schedules.

"I think Calgary is in a unique position. Both my husband and I are in oil and gas, and … we never lost faith in the housing market," Ms. Fellows says.

"You have to be realistic too. You can't set your price at [higher] 2007 levels."

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