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Calgary's tale of two housing markets: Demand for detached homes rises as condo sales fall

Real Estate in Calgary, Alberta - The view looking north from a condo owned by a family physician in Calgary Alberta.

Chris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

Detached-home sales in Calgary appear set to finally turn a corner, even as the city continues to grapple with a record level of unsold condos.

Sales of detached homes in Calgary and its suburbs were down 1.41 per cent last month, compared with August of last year, the Calgary Real Estate Board reported. But new listings dropped even faster, falling by 7 per cent. Despite signs of a tighter market for single-family homes, the benchmark detached-house price fell an annualized 3.3 per cent, to $503,200.

Calgary's condo market presented a dramatically different picture. Condo sales so far this year plunged 19 per cent over year-ago levels, to reach their lowest level since 2003, the board said. Listings have soared an annualized 28 per cent so far this year. Benchmark condo prices have fallen 7 per cent from a year earlier to $274,900, retracing nearly three years of gains.

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There were more than six months' worth of unsold condos languishing on the resale market in August, levels last seen during the 2009 recession. By contrast, there was 2.78 months' worth of detached homes listed for sale, down slightly from the same period last year. Condos now make up just 15 per cent of all home sales in the region this year, down from 17 per cent last year, the board said.

"We are clearly seeing a significant difference in the performance between our detached and our attached and apartment segments of the market, making it very difficult to use citywide housing data for decision-making purposes in today's market," real estate board president Cliff Stevenson said in a statement.

Attached properties have followed a similar trend, with prices of semi-detached homes down 2.6 per cent from the same month last year, while prices of row houses have dropped 5.7 per cent.

Overall home sales in the region fell 4.57 per cent from a year ago, marking the 21st month that year-over-year sales have declined. The citywide benchmark house price fell 4 per cent in August, to $440,200. Prices have dropped the most in Southeast Calgary, down 5 per cent, compared with 3 per cent in North Calgary.

The city's housing market has remained weak in the face of persistently low oil prices and job losses, despite some speculation that international investors might shift their focus to Calgary from Vancouver after B.C. introduced a 15-per-cent tax on foreign home buyers last month.

Overall prices and sales have fallen despite a 10-per-cent increase in sales of high-end homes. There have been 428 homes above $1-million sold this year, up from 389 last year. That included sales of two condos for more than $5-million in a luxury development called The River in July.

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About the Author
U.S. Correspondent

Tamsin McMahon is a U.S correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in California. She previously covered real estate for The Globe. Prior to joining the paper in January 2015, she worked at Maclean’s magazine covering business and the economy, where she was nominated for two National Magazine Awards. More

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