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Local realtors expect strong sales for 2014

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 06:00 am

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Housing sales in St. Albert were strong last year and local realtors are expecting 2014 will be even better, with growing sales and prices across the region.

In 2013, a total of 1,227 residential properties were sold in St. Albert, compared to 1,037 a year earlier. That reflects a healthy, growing economy, said Guy Hébert, owner of Bermont Realty in St. Albert.

“We had a strong spring and a strong finish to the year,” he said. “There are still a lot of people coming to Alberta or Edmonton specifically for employment and the interest rates are still very favourable.”

The year started out similar to 2012, with only 42 homes sold in January, at an average cost of $245,211. February showed an increase in sales and prices, with 67 single-family dwellings sold at an average cost of $440,272, compared to 63 a year earlier.

Sales then surged in March, with 101 single-family homes sold that month – compared to only 76 a year earlier – at an average price of $452,603.

The most single-family homes were sold in June, with 102 dwellings sold at an average cost of $450,860, and in July with 96 homes, at an average price of $447,897. Only 77 homes were sold in June 2012 and 93 in July 2012.

Home sales dropped again in August, to 65 single-family sales, and ended with low sales in December. Only 29 singles were sold that month, compared to 36 a year earlier.

In total, 872 single-family homes were sold in St. Albert in 2013.

Hébert said sales for inventory below $450,000 started to pick up later in the year and into 2014, and there is now a lot of choice in the higher-price range in St. Albert.

He added that the market for condominiums is growing, and the city will likely continue to see a shortage in available rental units. Hébert said demand is especially growing for two-bedroom condominiums.

“There are a lot of people selling a larger home to simplify because a lot of people like to lock the door and travel longer each year,” he said.

In total, 278 condos sold in 2013 at an average cost of $235,093. That’s up from last year, when only 208 condos sold, at an average of $250,000.

Similar to sales of single-family homes, condo sales surged in March, with 26 sales at an average cost of $245,649 – compared to about 17 sales a year earlier. Sales continued at a similar level into September, with another surge in August.

That month 34 condos sold at an average of $279,387, compared to 22 condos in August 2012. The year also finished strong, with 13 condos sold in December for an average cost of $230,492. Only five condos sold in December 2012.

Balanced sales, rising prices predicted for 2014

Many of the sale surges early in 2013 were based on announcements for large construction projects in the city and region, and a growing, healthy economy, said Tug Knowlton, realtor with St. Albert ReMax.

That trend will continue into 2014, he said, with mid-level and higher-level homes continuing to be fast sellers, he said.

“We are seeing more buyers, more motivated sellers and fewer numbers of listings which is creating a real balance in the supply and demand principles,” he said, adding that the average time on the market for single-family homes is now 53 days.

While prices will continue to rise based on low inventory and growing demand, Knowlton stressed that there is no reason to worry about a housing crunch yet, or rampant growth in the housing sector causing an inflation to prices similar to 2006.

Based on predictions by the Realtors Association, developers will not be able to keep up with the construction of new homes at the same level that people are entering the province, he said.

“This is not a situation where someone needs to think that they will be in a problematic exit strategy on their property,” he said. “If you transfer or need to sell there is positive growth in the future based on predictions on the economy and the fact that we are not experiencing the same rampant growth.”


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