by CREB on January 12, 2016
CREB® forecasts downward pressure on prices in 2016.
With no economic change on the horizon, demand for housing in Calgary will be weak in 2016, as sales activity is expected to fall by 2.2 per cent to 18,416 units, CREB® said today in its annual forecast. The annualized benchmark price is expected to decline by 3.44 per cent to $438,652.
Weak demand and supply gains are expected in 2016, adding to an already elevated level of inventory. In this situation, the markets ability to effectively absorb more inventory will be limited, resulting in some downward price pressure across all housing sectors.
“As we move into the second year of this environment, we expect to see additional housing supply pressure and further price declines,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “Weakness in the energy sector is overshadowing all aspects of our economy and with more people looking for work and fewer opportunities, we could see some families making adjustments to their housing situation.”
While price declines are forecasted in each of the detached, attached and apartment markets, steeper declines are anticipated in the higher density segments, a trend which already started in the fourth quarter of 2015. This is related to the near record high level of multi-family units under construction. As these units are completed, there will be more product available for a smaller pool of buyers.
“Market intelligence really matters in today’s operating environment. Pricing trends have and will continue to vary depending on product type, price range and location,” said CREB® president Cliff Stevenson. “Sellers in this market need to have a good understanding of activity within their specific niche of the market. This is where a real estate professionals can really help navigate market conditions and real estate options, which are always unique to each consumer.”
With oil prices expected to remain lower for a longer period of time, the additional impact on employment and the extent of the spillover to other industries is still uncertain. While current forecasts expect employment weakness to persist throughout 2016, further losses are not expected beyond this year.
“The main risk to the housing outlook lies with the deepness of the pullback in demand and how that will translate into supply gains,” said Lurie. “Any sign of sustained recovery in the energy sector could limit the impact on the housing market.”
by CREB on January 04, 2016
Elevated supply levels placed downward pressure on prices in December.
With the focus shifting toward the holiday season, December sales activity slowed to 878 units in the city, 18 per cent below last year at this time and well below the five and 10-year averages.
As a result, the unadjusted benchmark price dipped to $448,800, a 0.42 per cent decline over the previous month and 2.33 year over year.
CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie noted December followed a pattern established early on in 2015, which was characterized by slower housing demand.
“Economic uncertainty, followed by weak economic conditions and job losses, contributed to slowing housing demand throughout the year,” she said.
“That said, while aggregate prices trended down in 2015, it was not to the same extent as some had speculated. Supply levels were low moving into this cycle and thus provided some cushion to absorb the inventory gains.”
In December, monthly inventory levels declined, as expected, to 4,336 units. Yet they were still 28 per cent higher than the same time last year, and at the highest December level recorded since 2008.
Inventory levels were notably up in both the apartment and attached sectors, which neared the highest December total on record.
“December showed that buyers in this market are continuing to be much more cautious as the impact of further oil price declines weighs on their confidence,” said CREB® president Corinne Lyall.
“Some sellers, meanwhile, are concerned about what supply levels may look like next year and are not delaying their decisions.”
On an annual basis, sales activity declined by 24 per cent in the detached sector and 33 and 28 per cent in the apartment and attached segments, respectively.
While months of supply in 2015 trended higher in all sectors, the apartment was the only one to average above four for the entire year. As a result, the apartment sector was also the only one to record an annual decline in average benchmark price, by 0.82 per cent.
While December prices for both the detached and attached sectors were 1.91 and 1.29 per cent lower than levels recorded at the beginning of 2015, on an annual average basis, they remained 1.35 and 1.84 per cent above 2014 numbers. “Aggregate statistics often do not provide the full story as activity varies by product type, price ranges and location,” said Lyall.
“While prices have trended down this year citywide, there are some areas of the city where prices for detached homes have improved compared to the start of the year.”
by CREB on December 01, 2015
Weak sales activity relative to inventory places downward pressure on prices.
Calgary, Dec. 1, 2015 – Persistently high inventory levels within Calgary’s residential resale housing market, combined with weak sales activity, contributed to buyers' conditions in November.
Monthly sales totaled 1,263 units, a 28 per cent decline from last year and nearly 20 per cent below the 10-year average. Meanwhile, the amount of new listings in the market increased by five per cent over last November, and moved five per cent above 10-year average.
The combination of both soft sales and elevated listings caused months of supply to rise above four months. It represents the third consecutive month that housing supply in the city has remained near four months, which is an indicator that supports buyers’ conditions.
“The housing market is reflecting the realities of the economic conditions,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “Calgary has continued to post job losses in the energy sector, unemployment levels are high, wages are down and recovery expectations have changed. All of these factors have contributed to the weak demand we have seen throughout the year.”
CREB® president Corinne Lyall pointed out that inventory levels still remained 27 per cent below the November highs recorded in 2008.
“Furthermore, price declines have not been as steep as those recorded during the last downturn,” she said.
The unadjusted benchmark price in November declined to $450,700, a 0.5 per cent drop compared to last month and two per cent from last year.
Calgary’s detached housing sector faired the best in November as months of supply increased to only 3.4. Nonetheless, the unadjusted benchmark price declined by 0.6 per cent compared to October, and 1.52 per cent from November 2014, to $510,700.
In the attached category, buyers’ conditions emerged as months of supply increased to 4.8. As a result, the unadjusted benchmark price declined to $352,400, a 0.5 per cent drop from last month and 1.5 per cent from last year.
The apartment sector continued to be the hardest hit of the three sectors. Months of supply increased to 6.9 in November, causing benchmark prices to slide 0.5 per cent from October to $287,000. Meanwhile, year-over-year prices were off by 4.6 per cent.
Despite weaker absorption rates for most of 2015, residential benchmark prices have only recently started to decline – while average and median prices have dropped more dramatically. Lurie attributed that to slower activity in the higher-priced segments of the market, which can skew average and median prices.
Benchmark prices represent changes for similar-type homes, minimizing the impact caused by changes in distribution.
“It is not a surprise that the average price has recorded a steeper decline than the benchmark price,” she said. “Last November, detached sales in the city over $700,000 totaled 159 units or 15 per cent of the market sales. This November, there were only 103 sales representing 13 per cent of the market sales.”
Lyall said knowing the difference between indicators such as average, median and benchmark prices is important for sellers.
“There is no question that this can be a challenging market,” she said. “However, because of these circumstances there is a greater need for market intelligence."
by CREB on November 02, 2015
Elevated inventory levels in October contributed to a second consecutive month of price declines in Calgary’s resale residential housing market.
Benchmark prices declined 0.7 per cent from the previous month, and 1.2 per cent from the same time last year, to $453,100.
“Persistent weakness in the overall economy continued to impact housing demand in Calgary as October sales were nearly 16 per cent below long-term averages,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
“In addition, new listings did not decline enough to prevent inventory gains and, ultimately, price contractions.”
The steepest declines occurred in the apartment sector, where the benchmark price fell to $288,300, a 0.8 per cent decline from September and nearly four per cent from the same time last year.
Lurie attributed the declines to a continued rise in months of supply – from a low of three months in June to nearly six months in October.
“That sector is facing added competition from several new apartment projects, improved vacancy in the rental market and more supply in the attached sector,” said Lurie, noting months of supply in the sector has remained above four since August.
“When combined with a steep pullback in demand, it creates conditions that generally favour the buyer.”
Aggregate prices in both the detached and attached sector also recorded both monthly and yearly declines, but were moderate compared to apartments due to less severe drops in absorption levels.
“In this type of market, both sellers and buyers need to have those hard discussions with their real estate professionals about their objectives,” said CREB® president Corinne Lyall, noting increased competition from both the rental and new home markets.
“If sellers are serious about selling, they need to consider how they are positioning their home on the market. Buyers, meanwhile, have to consider whether that home satisfies their lifestyle needs.”
Overall, October sales in the city declined by 33 per cent year-over-year to 1,421 units, with year-to-date sales falling by more than 26 per cent.
Meanwhile, inventory levels during the month remained at 5,578 units, pushing months of supply up to 3.93.
Market balance in the detached sector, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of all sales in the city, varied depending on price segment.
More than half of detached sales in October occurred below $500,000, where demand relative to supply remained relatively tight – thereby potentially offsetting some of the price losses in the higher end of the segment.
“Sales activity has varied depending on market segment and price,” said Lyall.
“For example, while some price adjustments have occurred in the higher-end detached category, this is less likely for the under-$500,000 detached segment which had more balanced conditions.”
by CREB on October 01, 2015
Inventories rise as sales activity softens further
Following four months of relative stability, unadjusted benchmark prices eased as expected in September to $456,300, a 0.26 per cent decline compared with last year.
Most of this aggregate moderation was due to price declines in the apartment sector brought on by higher-than-average inventory levels.
“Overall sales activity relative to new listings caused a softening in absorption rates, which resulted in inventory gains and ultimately placed moderate downward pressure on pricing,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
Residential sales in the city totaled 1,448 units in September, well below typical activity levels for this time of year. Year-to-date Calgary sales remained below both the five and 10-year year averages by a respective 10 and 26 per cent.
“Rising unemployment and persistent weakness in the local economy is impacting housing demand,” said Lurie. “However, unlike earlier this year when consumers were reacting to uncertainty, recent activity reflects current economic conditions.”
While all property types recorded a notable drop in the sales-to-new-listings ratio, both the apartment and attached segments saw the most significant declines. Ratios in both categories dropped to the 40 per cent range, while months of supply pushed up to 4.95 and 4.35, respectively.
In comparison, the detached category saw its ratio hover around 50 per cent in September and months of supply settle at 3.32.
Elevated inventory levels in the apartment segment, in particular, are the result of moderate listing declines relative to sales activity, noted Lurie.
Year-to-date apartment sales have fell by 32 per cent, while listings have dropped by just 7 per cent.
As a result, the apartment benchmark price totaled $290,600 in September, a 1.19 per cent decline over last month and 2.71 per cent below last year.
CREB® president Corinne Lyall said that while the apartment sector now favours buyers with added selection and attractive pricing, other factors will continue to play into purchase decisions.
“While the apartment sector offers more choice, not all units are created equal,” she said. “When considering apartment condominiums, it’s important to understand that the corporate and physical health of the building can also influence both buying and selling decisions in this type of market.”
Despite higher months of supply, typical home prices in both the detached and attached sectors remain relatively unchanged in September, totaling $517,200 and $357,000, respectively.
Although citywide inventory levels remain elevated compared to activity seen in the past three years, Lyall noted they still remain well below highs recorded during the previous economic downturn in 2008/09.
“There is no question that we have seen a shift in our local housing market conditions, but it needs to be put in perspective,” she said.
Aggregate prices have eased by one per cent from the beginning of the year, a moderate correction when compared against the aggressive gains last year that averaged more than nine per cent, noted Lyall.
by CREB on September 01, 2015
Calgary’s residential resale housing market recorded further easing in absorption rates in August due to weaker sales activity.
Sales in the city declined by 27 per cent to 1,643 units last month relative to the same time last year, and 12 per cent below 10-year averages.
“Persistent weakness in the energy sector weighed on sales activity this month, which once again retracted to levels well below the norm for the city,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
The residential unadjusted sales-to-new-listings ratio eased from 67 per cent in July to 60 per cent in August, contributing to a monthly rise in inventory levels to 5,146 units. Combined with weaker sales activity, months of supply pushed up to 3.13 months.
While every price range experienced fewer sales per new listing, homes in the higher price ranges saw the most significant decline in absorption rates compared to last year, noted Lurie.
Year-to-date new listings in the $600,000-plus category increased in share of activity compared to last year. However, sales activity in this price range represented 18 per cent of all the sales last month, down from nearly 20 per cent last year.
“With more options in the higher-end of the market, sellers will need to consider their competition as well as their goals regarding a sell date,” said CREB® president Corinne Lyall. “This will influence the pricing strategy they agree upon with their real estate professional.”
Lurie added that despite challenges near the top of the market, absorption rates in the under-$500,000 detached sector remained relatively tight and is likely causing some price trend discrepancies.
Despite weaker absorption rates, benchmark prices remained relatively stable, totaling $456,300 in August. Lurie credits this steadiness to both the detached and attached sectors, which have remained more balanced relative to the apartment sector.
The apartment sector continued to struggle with increased competition from competing properties during the month, as unadjusted months of supply rose to 4.3. Increased supply is ultimately weighed on pricing, as prices declined on a year-over-year basis by 1.44 per cent in August.
Overall, the combination of price declines and higher inventory levels in some segments of the market are influencing buying patterns in Calgary, said Lyall.
“Improved selection in these segments is giving buyers the opportunity to be discerning about their purchase decisions,” she said. “They may be weighing their options between resale and new product, along with what community fits their lifestyle.”
“Although market conditions affect consumers’ real estate decisions, so do their lifestyles. People move for a number of reasons, including proximity to work and schools, along with changes in family dynamics.”
by CREB on July 29, 2015
Continued weakness in housing demand will limit downward pressure on supply levels and cause prices to ease in the second half of the year, CREB® said in its 2015 mid-year forecast. Despite this anticipated retraction, Calgary’s benchmark prices are only expected to decline by less than one per cent on an annual basis.
"Further job losses are expected in the second half of the year,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “These employment changes, combined with overall weakness and slower than anticipated recovery of oil prices, are expected to keep housing demand relatively weak for the rest of 2015. However, with the initial shock of oil price declines having dissipated, the pullback in sales activity in the second half is not expected to be as dramatic as the first part of the year,” said Lurie.
Overall sales activity in Calgary is forecasted to total 19,798 in 2015, a 22 per cent decline relative to last year, but only six per cent lower than average activity over the past five years.
Dramatic swings in new listings during the first half of the year caused inventory levels to rise, but by June, they remained below previous highs. Over the second half of the year, inventory levels traditionally ease as we move toward the fall and winter markets. However, this year housing supply levels are expected to remain relatively elevated due to improved selection in the rental markets, completion of projects under construction, and an easing in the rate of decline in resale new listings.
While some price moderation is expected moving forward, it should be noted that it’s not going to be the double-digit decline that some have suggested. In part, this is related to the limited supply in the market moving into this next cycle. Also, the forecasted pullback in employment and migration is not going to be as severe as what occurred last time we recorded significant price declines. Calgary’s residential benchmark price is expected to average $448,354 for 2015, a modest 0.20 per cent decline over the previous year.
“It’s a two sided coin when talking about pricing for buyers and sellers,” said CREB® president Corinne Lyall. “Some buyers have the expectation that they will get significant price reductions in this market, but that’s not always the case. In some areas, supply levels are more balanced with demand and that creates price stability. On the other hand, in most situations, it will be the sellers who need to adjust expectations, particularly if they have to compete with a large amount of comparable product in the neighbourhood.”
While slower demand is impacting all sectors of the market, the apartment sector is expected to record the largest pull-back in both sales and price growth in the second half. Challenges in this segment are linked to the rising supply in competing markets. There is more selection in the detached and attached segments, which makes it difficult to attract buyers. Sellers also faced added competition from new apartment units and increased selection in the rental market.
Meanwhile, activity in the detached segments will continue to vary based on price and location. Continued weakness in demand relative to supply levels, particularly in the higher price ranges, are expected to cause aggregate detached benchmark home prices to decline in the second half of this year. However, annual prices are expected to remain relatively unchanged compared to last year. Overall, detached sales are expected to total 12,105 units in 2015, a 19.8 per cent decline over last year.
“It’s important for active housing consumers to understand what type of comparable property is available by product type, community and price range,” said Lyall. “While some degree of competition exists in every market condition, most sellers in the current environment will need to take extra care in setting realistic expectations to attract a good crop of potential buyers. This kind of smart pricing may encourage buyers who are sitting on the sidelines to consider entering the market if they are in a position to do so.”
As with any market forecast, there are several factors that could influence the outlook. On the upside, if there is no further deterioration in the economic climate, it’s possible that the pullback in housing demand could be less severe. In this scenario, potential buyers who are in the market may decide to take advantage of higher supply levels and overlook short-term risks in favour of the positive long-term outlook. This possibility could keep market conditions relatively balanced in the second half and prevent any further price declines.
“Ultimately, what happens to prices will depend on supply levels and how much they go up or down against demand,” said Lurie. “The duration of this economic downturn and the resulting job loss will determine which direction supply will go in the months ahead.”
by CREB on August 04, 2015
Declines in residential housing sales activity eased in July, creating, when combined with stable inventory levels, no change to the month-over-month price.
Year-over-year sales fell by 14 per cent to 1,995 units in July, compared to a 17.8 per cent decrease the previous month. Despite the decline, sales activity during the month was consistent with the 10-year average.
While sales decline eased, so too did the decline in new listings, causing the unadjusted sales-to-new listings ratio to edge down to 67 per cent in July and months of supply to increase to 2.53 months.
“As weakness in the energy sector continues, this is trickling into several other aspects of our local economy, including our housing market,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
Despite weaker absorption rates, market conditions remained relatively balanced and helped maintain month-over-month stability in benchmark prices, which remained unchanged from the previous month at $455,400.
“Often, the focus is on home prices. In fact, Calgary has recorded significant gains in home prices over the past several years,” said Lurie. “And despite the recent retraction, we have not seen all those previous gains eroded.”
While benchmark prices exhibited some month-over-month resilience, they still declined by 0.15 per cent annually and one per cent lower than levels recorded in January. It represents the first time since 2011 that benchmark prices have posted a year-over-year decline.
Lurie attributes most of the year-over-year decline to the apartment sector, where prices fell by 1.61 per cent to $293,300 – nearly two per cent lower than the price at the beginning of the year – due to weak demand and growing supply.
Year-to-date new listings in the apartment sector declined by 4.6 per, while sales declined by 29 per cent over the same period, resulting in inventory gains. By July, the months of supply pushed up to 3.77 months compared to three months in June.
“The relatively weak demand for apartment product, combined with rising supply, continued to place downward pressure on prices for the second month in a row,” said Lurie.
CREB® president Corinne Lyall noted Calgary’s housing market is continuing to see some nuances in supply between the different segments of the market.
“These differences are really important to understand as it relates to consumer expectations,” she said. “Some buyers expect they will get major price reductions in this market, but that’s not always the case. In some areas, supply levels are more balanced with demand and that creates price stability.”
Meanwhile, detached home prices remained steady month-over-month at $515,300. While absorption rates eased in the sector, conditions remained relatively balanced.
“Many clients are optimistic about the long-term outlook and are less concerned about short-term fluctuations in the housing market,” said Lyall.
“They’re focused on taking the time they need to make the right choices for their lifestyle. Saying that, it’s important to stay current and become educated with the market dynamics in the communities where they may be making real estate decisions.”
by CREB on July 02, 2015
Calgary inventory levels ease
Despite the 18 per cent year-over-year decline in June home sales, for a total of 2,183 units, transaction levels remain only five per cent below the 10 year average for June and three per cent above levels over the past five years.
"We’ve seen less concern from consumers lately,” said CREB® president Corinne Lyall. “One of the main reasons is that we haven’t seen the worst case scenarios play out in the energy and housing sectors.”
“Consumers who were waiting for wide-spread price declines have been surprised to see that it just hasn’t happened yet, and so they’ve decided to take advantage of the improved selection and lower lending rates,” said Lyall.
The level of new listings that came on the market in June totaled 3,122 units, resulting in the second month of elevated absorption rates, which placed downward pressure on inventory levels. The overall months of supply continues to remain balanced at 2.3 months.
With conditions remaining relatively stable in June, there was minimal pressure on home prices. The city-wide benchmark price totaled $455,400, a respective monthly and year-over-year gain of 0.29 and 0.13 per cent.
“Even though city-wide prices were essentially unchanged in June, it’s important to note that activity can vary significantly depending on community, property type and price range,” said Lyall. “Every transaction has its own unique features, which is why we always encourage consumers to discuss these differences with local experts.”
Second quarter results pointed towards more stability in the market. The year-over-year decline in sales activity eased from 32 per cent in the first quarter to 22 per cent in the second quarter. Meanwhile, the level of pullback of new listings outweighed the gains recorded in the first quarter, resulting in a year-to-date decline of nearly eight per cent.
While both sales and new listings have slowed for each property type within the city, the apartment sector continues to report the weakest absorption rates.
The weaker rates in this sector are now impacting prices. Despite last month’s improvement in price, the second quarter benchmark price was 0.81 per cent below levels recorded last year and 0.93 per cent below first quarter figures. Year-to-date unadjusted apartment averages continue to remain 1.65 per cent above last year’s levels.
In the detached segment, benchmark prices totaled $515,500 in June, slightly higher than last month and 0.4 per cent higher than June 2014 prices. Meanwhile, the year-to-date benchmark price for detached properties remained 3.44 per cent above last year’s figures.
Against this backdrop, the year-to-date average and median detached home price for Calgary has reported declines of 2.26 and 1.54 per cent city-wide. This doesn’t come as a surprise, given that the share of sales activity has declined in the higher price ranges.
“The housing market is showing some signs of stability right now,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “However, there are several risk factors that could influence the market in the second half of the year,” said Lurie. “Many of these factors will be addressed in CREB®’s mid-year forecast update, which will be released at the end of July.”
by CREB on June 01, 2015
For the first time since December 2014, Calgary’s residential unadjusted benchmark prices improved over the previous month. Within the city of Calgary, housing prices totaled $454,100 in May, a monthly and year-over-year increase of 0.55 and 0.96 per cent.
“For the third month in the row, new listings have eased compared to last year, helping push the market toward more balanced conditions, despite the current environment of slower sales activity,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “This has helped prevent further declines in the unadjusted benchmark price.”
New listings in the city of Calgary totaled 3,161 units in May, a 27 per cent decrease over last year. Meanwhile, total inventory levels for the month were 5,342 units, 16 per cent higher than last year, but eight per cent lower than May levels recorded over the past five years and three per cent lower than average levels over the past 10 years.
Two measures of balance are the months of supply and the sales to new listings ratio. In May, the months of supply decreased to 2.43, while the sales to new listings ratio was 69 per cent, both within the norms for balanced conditions.
“Back in January, higher inventory levels relative to sales activity caused months of supply to rise above five months,” said CREB® president Corinne Lyall. “While some challenges continue to exist for sellers, depending on the property type, price and location, the decline in the months of supply points toward more stability for both buyers and sellers.”
Year-to-date the detached sector recorded the largest decline in new listings at eight per cent. While overall inventory levels are 12 per cent higher than last year’s levels, they remain well below the five and 10 year averages for May.
Detached sales activity in May totaled 1,366 units, with the majority of transactions occurring below $500,000. While conditions are not as tight as last year’s market conditions, which favoured the seller, over the first five months of this year activity in this price range has remained relatively balanced.
“This segment of the detached market continues to have a good amount of consumer activity, as many have taken advantage of the improved selection compared to last year,” said Lyall. “While some have waited for steeper price declines, to this point it just hasn’t happened across all areas of the market. This is partly related to activity in the under $500,000 segment.”
Meanwhile, year-to-date apartment sales and new listings totaled 1,383 and 3,229 units respectively. The May apartment benchmark price of $294,800 increased by 1.20 per cent compared to last month, but remains 0.2 per cent below May 2014 figures.
The apartment sector continues to remain the only sector where prices have contracted relative to last year’s figures.
“While the resale market has recorded an easing of upward inventory pressures, the new home sector has started to record some gains in inventory,” said Lurie. “Current new home inventories remain relatively low. However, the overall impact on Calgary’s housing prices will ultimately depend on the duration of the economic slowdown and the amount of inventory build-up in the new home sector.”