Good time to buy

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Falling house prices good for first-time buyers

Right now is the time to buy – and sell – says one St. Albert realtor.

Sales might be down over this time last February – 32 per cent for single family homes – but the increase in inventory and lower price points are favourable for buyers and sellers alike, according to Ian Robertson of the Robertson First Re/Max sales team.

Although there’s still some caution in the market, Robertson said spring is bringing new life to the real estate industry.

Unseasonably warm weather is translating into more listings coming on to the market early, which in turn means more inventory for buyers, who are also motivated by the warm weather, to choose from.

“People are tired of bad news. They see the selection and it’s exciting for them,” said Robertson.

Lower price points are offering first-time buyers the opportunity to enter the St. Albert single-family home market.

“If you’re moving up in this market there is tremendous opportunity because prices have softened,” said Robertson.

The median price for a single-family home in February was $405,500 compared to $438,375 in February 2015, according to the most recent statistics released by Realtors Association of Edmonton. Interest rates are also at an all-time low, said Robertson, making it attractive to make the move from a condo to a detached home.

The decline in sales comes mostly from the $500,000 and up category. Single-family homes in that price range are down 30 per cent from last February. Properties at lower price points have only experienced a slight decline, said Roberston.

The average sales price for a single-family home in St. Albert is down 5.8 per cent over February 2015, at $464,321 from $493,000.

“The lower end of the market is really strong,” said Robertson. “We’re seeing multiple offers all over the place, both on listed properties and listings we’re going to buy for buyers. There’s quite an aggressive demand that we’ve seen come in to the market in February, because the prices are better.”

He heard of a handful of scenarios where sellers have received more than the listing price, which he points out was under market value, because of multiple offers.

But the current trends won’t last forever, said Robertson. He pointed to the slight increase (0.24 per cent) in prices for single-family homes experienced by the Edmonton area, compared to the consistent drop experienced month over month last year.

Robertson expects prices to bottom out in April or May, as more people start looking.

“The demand is going to increase even more because most people don’t want to move at this time of the year, but there are so many good houses out there,” he said.

Condo sales in St. Albert increased by 27 per cent over February 2015, with the average price decreasing by 5.8 per cent, at $260,850.

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Michelle Ferguson