Calgary resale home prices fell for the fifth straight month in February, as sales of detached homes and condos plunged to the lowest level in more than a decade.
Home resales tumbled nearly 7 per cent last month from a year earlier and were 37 per cent below the region's long-term average, the Calgary Real Estate Board reported. Benchmark prices, which track the price of a "typical" home in the city, dropped 3.45 per cent in the region to $445,000.
Eight straight months of job losses in the region have taken a toll on the city's housing market, said the real estate board's chief economist, Ann-Marie Lurie. "Given the current economic environment, it is no surprise that consumer confidence and housing demand is being impacted," she said in a statement, adding that the board expects the market to remain weak for the next several months.
Calgary's condo market has borne the brunt of the economic fallout from falling oil prices and layoffs in the energy sector. Condo sales plunged by an annualized 22 per cent last month, even as new listings rose by more than 7 per cent. The benchmark price for a condominium fell 5.35 per cent from a year earlier to $283,600, compared to a drop of 3.19 per cent for detached houses.
"The last time Calgary's February real estate market was slower than now, we were watching the first season of Friends," wrote real estate agent Mike Fotiou, pointing out that by mid-month, home sales had reached their lowest point since 1995.
Despite the gloomy outlook for the city's economy, some segments of Calgary's housing market showed signs of turning the corner in February. Sales of attached properties, such as townhouses and semi-detached homes, were up nearly 7 per cent from a year earlier. Most likely, that was driven by buyers who would have once purchased a condo, but who were now able to afford lower-priced attached houses, the board said.
While Calgary's benchmark price declined, the average sales price rose 2.42 per cent from a year earlier as more buyers opted for more expensive homes. There were 67 sales of luxury homes priced at $900,000 and above, up from 53 a year earlier. Across the region, new listings fell 9 per cent in the first two months of the year, a signal that fewer homeowners are desperate to sell in a down market. The fall in listings wasn't enough to offset the drop in sales, however. There were more than five months' worth of unsold inventory on the resale market last month, up nearly 10 per cent from a year earlier. Resale homes took an average of 43 days to sell, up from 35 days last February. The ratio of sales to new listings dropped to 39 per cent, a sign of a strong buyer's market.
Homeowners are beginning to adjust to the new reality that buyers are now in the driver's seat in Calgary and sellers can no longer expect to hold out until prices rebound, said Real Estate Board president Cliff Stevenson. "The high volume of inventory that we're seeing has pushed sellers to be more realistic about their pricing expectations and the amount of time their properties may be on the market," he said.