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Real estate market turns in stable year

Economic development has realtors bullish in 2013

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 05, 2013 06:00 am

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Housing sales in 2012 were once again down from the previous year but not by much. Overall, St. Albert’s real estate market can look back at a year of stable sales and prices.

In 2012, a total of 1,037 residential properties sold in St. Albert, with an average of 65 single-family homes per month. That is seven fewer homes than in 2011.

The year started out slowly with only 43 homes sold in January, at an average of $438,000.

February showed a sudden surge in sales and prices, with 63 single-family dwellings sold at an average of $473,000.

But the average could have been skewed by the sales of larger, higher cost homes, cautioned Jon Hall of the Realtors Association of Edmonton.

“It’s a bit of a surprise that the sales numbers increased but we did have some intervention in the market when the finance minister decided to change the mortgage qualification rules,” he said.

“So that may have pushed people to buy a little earlier.”

Sales continued to increase over the following months, though prices lowered after February.

The most homes were sold in May, with 97 single-family dwellings at an average price of $411,000. The same month also saw the highest sales in condominiums with 31 sales at an average price of $265,000.

Overall, 208 condos were sold in St. Albert in 2012 at an average price of $250,000.

September reflected the normal seasonal drop with only 49 sales for single-family homes. Prices remained relatively high at an average of $495,000.

October showed another surge in housing sales with 60 sales at an average of $438,000. During the same month in 2011 there were only 49 sales of single-family homes at an average of $429,000.

For December, the average selling price for a single-family dwelling in St. Albert was $474,541.

With 32 homes sold, December’s sales showed the usual seasonal low, though there were more sales than expected by realtors.

Hall said stability in the economy may have affected sales more than usual.

“If there’s stability in the market, it makes it easier for the buyer to understand where they will be (financially) and if the market goes up steadily, there’s stability to plan for your move,” he said.

As of this Friday, St. Albert had 204 properties available, 149 of which were single-family homes and 55 of which were condominiums.

Guy Hébert of Bermont Realty in St. Albert said that December and January are slow months for housing sales. Property sales usually go up in the spring.

But despite fewer homes on the market, he advises buyers to look at potential deals now.

“It’s a very good time to buy homes now. There’s a good selection, a large selection, and the interest rates are at an all-time low,” he said.

“More buyers will come out in the next couple of months. There will be more listings. So it’s a good time to buy when the market is quiet.”

Hébert said he’s noticed a trend in homebuyers looking to buy houses below $400,000. In 2012, 22 homes were listed over $1 million in St. Albert but only six sold.

In 2013, he expects prices will remain stable but demand will rise due to better interest rates.

Mark Cassidy of Re/Max Real Estate in St. Albert said some areas of Edmonton saw housing prices increase by 6.8 per cent in 2012. This would benefit St. Albert, not only as a competitive market but also for its quality of life, he said.

“We have a very high grade of schools in St. Albert, and an abundance of parks and the small town atmosphere that people are attracted to,” he said.

“There are underlying attractions that benefit each area and it’s a positive outlook because of what we have to offer and in seeing that Edmonton is moving up.”

Both Cassidy and Hébert said the region would also benefit from economic growth in 2013.

With the North West upgrader moving into the region, Cassidy said St. Albert and surrounding communities can expect more homeowners to enter the market.

“We are anticipating a surge of 3,000 workers and construction is supposed to start in spring,” he said.

“Anytime you have large employment increases, you certainly have workers who move to the area.”


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