Are we back to normal?

Covid-19 has changed us. It has changed the business of buying and selling real estate. At the beginning of the pandemic, while most people were rolling up their carpets and closing their businesses, real estate agents were rolling up their sleeves and providing an essential service to their clients. This left the Calgary Real Estate Board needing to change the rules of practice to ensure safety for all. For example, how is a highly infectious global virus going to be handled when people come to view a home, when an offer is submitted, or when a buyer wants to see a house?

Protocols were put in place quickly. Covid-19 questionnaires were completed, hold harmless agreements were signed. Open houses ceased to exist. No more could we travel in a car with a client. Financial transactions became electronic. Virtual tours were advised over private showings.

The first time I heard of Covid-19 was earlier in the year. My husband and I were in Victoria celebrating our wedding anniversary. A few days prior to our arrival, the first Covid-19 case appeared in BC. We weren’t alarmed, we didn’t fearfully hunker down in our hotel room. We had no idea of what the virus was to become, so we enjoyed Victoria’s pubs and restaurants, unknowingly breathing in droplets and touching surfaces. We enjoyed our time there, marking the start of the year with a pandemic. Not all anniversaries can be that memorable.

We returned home where, instead of working on my database of amazing clients, I found myself engrossed with the news of the day. I think if an entire continent had slid into the ocean and disappeared, it wouldn’t have had as much coverage as Covid-19 did. I was entranced with every story, changing channels as quickly as doctors changed their opinions on masks. I’d blurt out (to myself), “Not a total lockdown! How will people afford to eat? What will they eat? Why does a respiratory illness give you diarrhea?” Things like that. Endless panels of experts zoomed in from all over the world, talking about what they didn’t know while claiming to know everything, I was sure the only way back to reality was less TV and more aerobic activity.

Meanwhile, I showed houses. My buyers felt the timing was good for them. One couple said, “Maybe we’ll find a deal. After all, who in their right mind sells a home during a pandemic?” Turns out, quite a few. Part of the seller’s logic could have been – selling now is better than later, prices will likely come down. It may very well have been the perfect storm, but instead sales plummeted for those few months.

Then in June the province started a relaunch recovery plan. I must state the obvious to those that are excited about this news, listen up…the virus is still here. Yes, you may still end up on a ventilator while the rest of Calgary is open for business. We are relaunched and yet I’m wearing a mask in an empty mall instead of lipstick, and being sprayed with alcohol instead of wearing my perfume. I am a little concerned about getting this virus. If I feel feverish or have a sore throat I run to the medicine cabinet to fetch the thermometer. Often, I can be found in the fridge smelling peanut butter just to make sure I haven’t lost my sense of smell. If I cough at night, it’s either Whooping Cough or Covid-19. Either way, I’m smelling peanut butter.

We started to see real estate sales go back up in June. Prior to this, sellers were glued to Global News waiting to see if they should just torch their houses and head for the hills. We surprisingly have seen some homes go to multiple offers, some selling above their list price. Even now sales are fairly good, even with challenges still facing the people of our city. Things have the appearance of going back to normal, when in fact I believe this is the new abnormal. I think it’s more realistic, particularly during a pandemic to keep expectations low and hopes high. Covid-19 will do what viruses do, it will take over a host cell, multiply and make people sick. It does this without conscience or restraint. The virus jumps from one person to the next, even as we all so diligently try to avoid each other. I like to call this the new warm and fuzzy.

I bought a greeting card awhile ago and kept it for the right moment. That moment has arrived. It shows a little girl looking up at her mother, “Mommy, what’s normal?” The mother answers her, “It’s a setting on the dryer, dear.” I think that’s about as close to normal as we’re going to get.




Housing market second quarterly report

Housing market second quarterly report released

City of Calgary, July 27, 2020 –

The second quarter of 2020 marked the first full quarter since COVID-19 began to weigh on the economy. 

Calgary housing sales slowed by 35 per cent compared to the previous year. This is better than original expectations, thanks to June figures that were far stronger than initial estimates. The pullback in new listings in the second quarter caused inventories to trend down, preventing a more significant decline in prices. 

The second quarter benchmark price trended down compared to the first quarter and eased by 2.3 per cent compared to last year, just slightly above initial forecasted levels. 

“Unquestionably, COVID-19 will continue to impact the housing market over the next several quarters. However, the extent of the impact may not be as severe as estimates from three months ago,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. 

“While the situation may look brighter than it did a few months ago, it is also important to note that challenges remain.”

Overall, we continue to expect citywide benchmark home prices to ease by nearly three per cent this year and sales activity will remain weak compared to the already low levels recorded last year. 

Despite the wide range of expectations on home prices, we do not expect a stronger price decline in 2020 for a couple reasons: 

  • Adjustment in supply. Demand has fallen, but so have new listings and inventory levels. This is preventing significant gains in the months of supply and slowing the downward price pressure.
  • Support provided by lenders and government is expected to cushion the blow from COVID-19, preventing a more significant price drop this year.

As we move into the second half of this year and into 2021, there remains significant downside risk. If jobs do not return as anticipated and the support from lenders and government ends, we could start to see a rise in supply relative to demand. This may cause stronger price declines in the market entering 2021.   

Sales decline by 2% from last year amidst pandemic

Media release: Sales decline by two per cent from last year amidst COVID-19 pandemic

City of Calgary, July 2, 2020 –

After three months where COVID-19 weighed heavily on the housing market, sales activity in June continued to trend up from the previous month, totalling 1,747 units.

Caution remains necessary, as monthly sales are nearly two per cent lower than activity recorded last year. However, this represents a significant improvement compared to the past several months, where year-over-year declines exceeded 40 per cent. 

“Recent price declines, easing mortgage rates and early easing of social restrictions are likely contributing to the better-than-expected sales this month,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. 

“However, the market remains far from normal. Challenges, such as double-digit unemployment rates, will continue to weigh on the market for months to come.” 

New listings in June totalled 3,335 units, a six per cent increase over last year. The recent rise in new listings caused inventories to trend up, but they remain well below last year’s levels. 

Despite some recent monthly gains in supply, sales activity was high enough to cause the months of supply to dip below four months for the first time since May 2019. If this trend continues, it should help to ease the downward pressure on prices. 

Residential benchmark prices are comparable to last month, but they remain nearly three per cent lower than last year’s levels.

HOUSING MARKET FACTS

Detached

  • Sales activity in June totalled 1,092 units. This is an improvement over the past few months and only slightly lower than last year’s levels. 
  • Despite citywide declines, year-over-year sales activity improved in the City Centre, North East, North, South East and East districts. 
  • June also saw an increase in new listings, which is causing some monthly gains in inventory. However, increased sales offset the rise in new listings, causing the months of supply to trend toward more balanced conditions.
  • Detached benchmark prices remained relatively stable compared to last month but were two per cent lower than last year’s levels. Year-over-year price declines were recorded across most districts, with the largest declines in the North West, North East and City Centre districts.

Apartment

  • Apartment sales totalled 227 units in June. This is an improvement from the 136 units last month, but it is still nearly 13 per cent lower than last year’s levels and over 30 per cent lower than longer-term averages.
  • New listings rose compared to last month and last year. This did translate into some monthly inventory gains, but overall inventory levels remain lower than last year’s levels.
  • The months of supply has come down from the high levels recorded over the past few months. 
  • Benchmark prices continued to trend down this month, totalling $240,900. This is a year-over-year decline of nearly four per cent. 
  • The resale apartment sector continues to be one of the hardest hit in terms of relative declines in both sales and prices.

Attached

  • The attached sector has faced the smallest impact from the pandemic. June sales were nearly three per cent higher than last year’s levels and remain comparable to longer-term averages. The attached sector has generally benefited from its status as a more affordable alternative to the detached sector.
  • Like the detached sector, the attached sector saw new listings rise compared to both last year and last month. However, the months of supply trended toward more balanced conditions and improved over last year’s levels.
  • Benchmark prices remained relatively stable compared to the previous month, but fell by nearly four per cent compared to last year. The higher price decline in this sector could be a contributing factor to the improving sales activity.

REGIONAL MARKET FACTS

Airdrie

  • Following declines over the past three months, June sales rose above last year’s levels. While the monthly gain was significant, it was not enough to offset previous pullback, as year-to-date sales remained nearly eight per cent below last year’s levels.
  • Airdrie also saw new listings rise, but inventory levels remain well below last year’s levels. The months of supply dropped below three months and is lower than pre-COVID-19 levels. If the supply/demand balance stays in this range, we could start to see some of the downward price pressure ease.
  • Airdrie’s benchmark price was $327,400 in June. This is down compared to the previous month and over two per cent lower than last year’s levels. Year-to-date prices remain just below last year’s levels.

Cochrane

  • Sales in Cochrane this month improved over last year’s levels. At the same time new listings also rose, causing some growth in inventory levels. However, the improvement in sales outpaced the gains in inventory, causing the months of supply to trend down.  
  • Supply/demand balances are improving, but it takes time before this is reflected in prices.   In June, the benchmark price was $394,900. This is slightly lower than last month and nearly four per cent lower than last year. It will likely take several more months of more balanced conditions before seeing any impact on home prices.

Okotoks

  • June sales remained relatively stable compared to last year’s levels. However, with steep declines in April and May, year-to-date sales remain well below both last year’s levels and longer-term trends.
  • Recent gains in new listings caused some monthly gains in inventory levels. The monthly gain in inventory was not enough to offset the monthly increase in sales, causing the months of supply to trend down to three months in June.  
  • Benchmark prices were falling prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pace of decline increased during the past several months. In June, benchmark prices remained relatively stable compared to last month, but they remain over four per cent lower than last year’s levels.

Covid-10’s impact on Calgary housing market continues

Media release: COVID-19’s impact on Calgary housing market continues

City of Calgary, June 1, 2020 –

Housing market activity in May remained slow, but sales exceeded the lows from April, which saw less than 600 sales in Calgary. 

May sales totalled 1,080 units, a 44 per cent decline from last year’s figures. 

“The initial shock of COVID-19 and social distancing measure is starting to ease. This is bringing some buyers and sellers back to the market. However, this market continues to remain far from normal and prices are trending down,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. 

“Activity has also shifted toward more affordable product, which is likely causing differing trends depending on product type and price range.”

Sales are down in all price ranges, but a greater share of sales are priced below $500,000. 

In the higher price ranges the drop in inventory has not been enough compared to the drop in sales. Additionally, the months of supply is far higher than the already elevated levels seen during the past five years. 

The shift in sales toward lower-priced product is contributing to steep average price declines in the Calgary market.

Benchmark pricing, which reflects comparisons of the same type of home, has eased by over two per cent compared to last year and 0.4 per cent compared to last month. This does not come as a surprise as the market continues to struggle with more supply than demand.

COVID-19 and social distancing measures have contributed to rising unemployment rates and job losses throughout many economic sectors. This is weighing on consumer confidence and the housing market. Some of this job loss is temporary, but the energy sector remains the largest concern. 

Significant job loss throughout the typically higher-paid professional and technical services sector points to a longer adjustment period in the housing market, particularly in the higher end of the market.

HOUSING MARKET FACTS

Detached

  • Detached sales eased across the city, with the largest declines occurring in the West district.
  • May sales totalled 670 units. This is a 43 per cent decline over the previous year. 
  • The decline was met with lower inventory levels. However, it was not enough to change the oversupply situation. Citywide months of supply remained above four months.
  • For the higher-priced districts – the West and City Centre – the months of supply rose to seven months.
  • Detached home prices trended down in May compared to the previous month and remained nearly two per cent below last year’s levels. Declines varied across the city, with the highest price declines occurring in the City Centre, West, North West and North East districts.

Apartment

  • Apartment sales totalled 137 units in May, an improvement from the 95 units last month. However, this is still nearly 60 per cent below last year’s levels. The pullback in inventory was not enough to offset the slower sales, and the months of supply jumped to 10 months. 
  • The benchmark price continued to fall and is now more than two per cent lower than last year’s levels. The average and median prices fell at a significant rate. This is because a large share of the sales occurred in the under-$200,000 price range.
  • Benchmark prices eased across all districts, but the year-over-year decline was the highest in the North East district, with declines of over five per cent.

Attached

  • Mirroring the trend from other property types, sales for attached product slowed by 35 per cent compared to last year for a total of 273 units. Inventory levels eased to 1,503 units and months of supply totalled 5.5 months. The months of supply has eased from the levels recorded last month, but it remains elevated relative to historical levels for this time of year.
  • The benchmark price trended down for attached product, declining by nearly one per cent over the previous month and nearly four per cent compared to the previous year.

REGIONAL MARKET FACTS

Airdrie

  • Sales in Airdrie totalled 99 units in May. Activity has slowed compared to previous years, but the decline has not been as steep as what has been recorded in Calgary. The region has also seen a similar decline in new listings and inventory levels. This has helped push the months of supply back to four months, which is similar to the levels recorded prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Benchmark prices have eased slightly compared to last month and are relatively stable compared to last year. However, there has been a notable decline in both the average and median prices. The decline in average and median prices is mostly related to the significant shift in activity by price range, as sales continued to improve for product priced below $300,000.

Cochrane

  • Sales in Cochrane have slowed, but the pullback in new listings has outpaced the easing sales. This is causing inventories to fall and lowering the months of supply to under five months, a decline of 9 per cent compared to last year.
  • However, the impact of previous months oversupply has weighed on benchmark prices, which have eased by two per cent compared to last year. However, unlike other areas, the average and median prices have been rising, as sales in the $400,000 – $499,999 range remained stable compared to last year and represent a larger share of overall sales compared to last year.

Okotoks

  • While improving slightly compared to last month, Okotoks sales have remained relatively weak in May. At the same time, inventory decline has helped offset the slower sales, leaving the months of supply at four months.
  • The benchmark price trended down for the third month in a row and year-to-date levels are now two per cent lower than last year.

Covid-19 impacts

COVID-19 Impacts and the Housing Market Quarterly Report Released

City of Calgary, April 27, 2020 – 

Due to COVID-19 impacts in Calgary’s housing market and general economy, it is not business as usual. 

This year was projected to be a time when Calgary would start to see some modest improvements. 

“The uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy industry is expected to cause a dramatic decline in housing demand over the second quarter,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“With social distancing expected to soften by the third quarter, the pace of the decline in sales will ease by the third and fourth quarter. However, a turnaround in sales is not expected by the end of the year, as the financial implications for many households will have lingering effects.” 

At the same time supply levels are also declining, as social distancing measures are causing some households to delay listing their home during the pandemic.  In situations of rising unemployment rates and job loss, we can see rising inventory levels. However, the ability for households to defer their mortgage will help prevent a steeper rise in supply when social distancing measure are relaxed. This will help prevent home prices from collapsing.

However, given the situation in the energy sector, weakness in our economy is expected to persist beyond the immediate impact of COVID-19. On this basis, our housing market is expected to struggle with excess supply and further price declines. On an annual basis, prices in 2020 are expected to decline by nearly three per cent.

Covid-19 weighing on housing market

Media release: COVID-19 weighing on housing market

City of Calgary, April 1, 2020 – 

After a strong start to 2020, economic conditions have dramatically changed, as COVID-19 is impacting all aspects of society. 

The economic impact is starting to be felt across many industries. This includes the housing market.

March sales activity started the month strong, but quickly changed, as concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 brought about social distancing measures. This had a heavy impact on businesses and employment. 

“This is an unprecedented time with a significant amount of uncertainty coming from both the wide impact of the pandemic and dramatic shift in the energy sector. It is not a surprise to see these concerns also weigh on the housing market,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

By the end of March, sales activity had fallen 11 per cent compared to last year. This is 37 per cent lower than long-term averages. The drop in sales pushed March levels to the lowest recorded since 1995.

“The impact on the housing market will likely persist over the next several quarters,” said Lurie. “However, measures put in place by the government to help support homeowners through this time of job and income loss will help prevent more significant impacts in the housing market.”

New listings dropped by 19 per cent this month. This decline in new listings compared to sales caused supply levels to ease and helped prevent a larger increase in oversupply. Overall, the months of supply remain just below five months, similar to levels recorded last year.

Prices were already forecasted to ease this year due to oversupply in our market. In March, the citywide benchmark price was $417,400. This is nearly one per cent lower than last year’s levels. The reduction in both sales and new listings should help prevent significant price declines in our market. 

However, price declines will likely be higher than originally expected due to the combined impact of the pandemic and energy sector crisis.

HOUSING MARKET FACTS

Detached

  • Detached sales eased by 15 per cent this month, driven by pullbacks in all districts except the North, which remained flat compared to last year.
  • The decline in sales was met with a larger decline in new listings, causing inventories to fall by 17 per cent and keeping the months of supply slightly lower than last year’s levels. 
  • Detached benchmark prices have remained relatively unchanged compared to last year at $480,800. Price declines this month continue to be the highest for the City Centre, North East and West districts. 

Apartment

  • With 217 citywide apartment sales in March, this was the only category to record a year-over-year gain. Much of the gain was due to improving sales in the South, South East and North West districts.
  • New listings this month did ease, helping support a small decline in inventory levels. 
  • Persistent oversupply has resulted in continued downward pressure on prices. In March, the citywide benchmark price eased by more than two per cent compared to last year for a total of $243,700.

Attached

  • Both semi-detached and row sales declined this month compared to last year. Like the other property types, there was also a significant reduction in new listings.
  • The decline in new listings helped push down inventory levels for both property types, but it was not enough to prevent a rise in the months of supply.
  • However, this segment was oversupplied prior to the recent changes, impacting prices. As of March, prices remained nearly one per cent lower than last year’s levels for both semi-detached and row properties.

REGIONAL MARKET FACTS

Airdrie

  • Like many other areas, Airdrie saw a decline in sales activity, along with a reduction in new listings and inventory. The reductions in supply and demand helped prevent any significant changes to the months of supply.
  • While the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis has not yet played out in the housing market, March prices remained comparable to last year’s levels.

Cochrane

  • Both sales and new listings fell this month compared to last year, causing inventories to fall to the lowest levels in five years. Like many other markets, Cochrane remains oversupplied, with easing prices.
  • The March benchmark price was $398,700. This is nearly two per cent lower than the previous year.

Okotoks

  • Trends changed this month, with flat sales and a decline in new listings. The decline in new listings was enough to cause a significant reduction in supply levels and the months of supply fell below five months.
  • Prices are trending down on a monthly basis, but remain comparable to last year’s levels, with a March benchmark price of $405,000.

Home sales see a bump

Media release

City of Calgary, March 2, 2020 – 

This month saw a double-digit gain in sales, but last February was one of the slowest levels of activity since the late ’90s.

With the extra day this February, monthly sales totaled 1,197 units.  A combination of these two factors resulted in a 23 per cent improvement over last year, but sales remain well below longer-term trends and consistent with the lower levels reported over the past five years.

“However, this should not diminish the fact that conditions are still improving,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. 

“Calgary is continuing to see slow reductions in the amount of oversupply in the market, from modest changes in demand and reductions in supply. This needs to occur before we can see more stability in prices.”

The overall unadjusted benchmark price was $416,900 in February. This is similar to last month, but nearly one per cent below last year’s levels. Overall, prices remain nearly 11 per cent below the monthly high recorded in 2014.

HOUSING MARKET FACTS

Detached

  • After the first two months of the year, detached sales improved by nearly 12 per cent. Improvement did not occur across all districts, as sales continued to ease in the City Centre, North East and North West districts.
  • Driven by pullbacks mostly in the south and west districts, new listings declined by one per cent in the city so far this year. 
  • Improving sales and easing new listings helped reduce inventory levels and reduced months of supply to just below four months in February. This is a significant improvement over the more than five months recorded last February. 
  • The benchmark price continued to trend down this month for detached homes, but the pace of decline is easing. Citywide detached prices remain less than one per cent lower than last year’s levels, but price movements vary significantly by district, ranging from a three per cent decline in the City Centre to a two per cent increase in the South district.

Apartment

  • For the second month in a row, improving sales were met with gains in new listings. This is causing inventory gains. 
  • Sales levels were high enough to cause the months of supply to ease, but the persistent oversupply in the market continues to weigh on prices.
  • February benchmark prices eased compared to the previous month and is over two per cent lower than last year’s levels. The overall benchmark apartment price of $244,700 in February is nearly 19 per cent lower than 2014 monthly highs.

Attached

  • After the first two months of the year, rising attached sales and easing new listings caused inventories to decline. 
  • February months of supply is now below five months, an improvement compared to the past two years. 
  • Conditions continue to favour the buyer, but improvements have helped reduce the downward pressure on prices. However, divergent activity continues based on location, as prices declined across most districts, but improved in the West, South East and East districts of the city. 

REGIONAL MARKET FACTS

Airdrie

  • After the first two months of the year rising sales were met with gains in new listings.  However, the improvements in sales outpaced the new listings gain resulting in further inventory declines.  Months of supply have still eased over last year’s levels, but not enough to cause a significant change in price movements.
  • After the first two months of the year, the benchmark price has remained relatively stable compared to last year.

Cochrane

  • Trends in the town remain generally consistent with regional trends. Improving sales were met with some reductions in listings, inventory and the amount of oversupply in the market.
  • The market is showing signs of improvement, but prices continue to remain over two per cent lower than last year.

Okotoks

  • Improving sales in the town were strong enough to offset recent gains in new listings, causing further reductions in inventories and the months of supply. 
  • The elevated levels of supply compared to sales continue to cause prices to trend down. However, at a benchmark price of $409,150 so far this year, prices are just above levels recorded over the first two months of 2019. 

Slight gain in sales

Media release: 2020 opens with a slight gain in sales

City of Calgary, February 3, 2020 – 

Housing market conditions continue to follow similar trends to last year, with gains in sales.

At the same time, there have been further reductions in new listings, inventory and more declines in prices.

January sales activity was 863 units, nearly eight per cent higher than last year’s levels. While sales remained well below January activity recorded before 2014, they remain consistent with activity recorded over the past five years.

“A persistent slowdown in the energy sector has resulted in a reset in many aspects of our economy. This includes the housing market,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. 

“We continue to see the slow adjustment to more balanced conditions, but it will take time before that starts to translate into price stability.”

Citywide unadjusted benchmark prices were $417,100 in January. This is slightly lower than the previous month and nearly one per cent lower than last year’s levels. 

Benchmark prices eased, but there were some modest improvements in both the average and median prices. This is likely a reflection of some changes in the distribution of sales.  

HOUSING MARKET FACTS

Detached

  • Detached sales in January improved by six per cent, thanks to growth in all districts except the North East. 
  • New listings declined by nearly 11 per cent due to pullbacks in all areas except the City Centre and the North districts. Combined with adjustments in sales, this caused inventories to ease by 15 per cent citywide.
  • Reductions in supply and gains in sales supported reductions in the months of supply from nearly six months last year to just under five months this January. 
  • Detached benchmark prices eased by nearly one per cent compared to last year. However, the only two areas to record notable year-over-year declines were the City Centre and West, with price declines exceeding three per cent.

Apartment

  • Improving sales were met with gains in new listings, causing inventories to increase by 12 per cent compared to last year. 
  • The gain in inventories prevented any significant adjustment in the months of supply, which remained elevated at nine months.
  • The persistent oversupply continued to weigh on benchmark prices, which eased compared to last month and declined by two per cent compared to last year.

Attached

  • Despite slower sales in the South and South east district, city-wide attached sales improved by four per cent.  At the same time new listings eased by nearly 18 per cent, causing inventories to decline by ten per cent.
  • Improving sales and a drop in inventory helped the months of supply to dip below seven months, a significant improvement compared to last year’s level of nearly eight months.
  • While this segment is trending toward more balanced conditions, persistent oversupply continues to weigh on prices, which trended down over the previous month and eased by over one per cent compared to last year’s levels.

REGIONAL MARKET FACTS

Airdrie

  • Improving sales and easing inventories helped push the months of supply down to 4.7 months. This represents levels that are consistent with longer-term trends and reflects relatively balanced conditions.
  • The improvements in the supply relative to demand have started to generate much more stability in prices, which have remained comparable to last month and slightly higher than last year’s levels.

Cochrane

  • January recorded a significant gain in sales and a significant drop in new listings. This resulted in a drop in the months of supply to four months, a significant improvement from the 14 months recorded last January.
  • If the improvements continue, this should start to support price stability. However, the recent change has not yet impacted prices, which remain nearly three per cent lower than last year’s levels.

Okotoks

  • Sales activity in town improved to levels consistent with longer-term trends. The improvement in sales helped offset the slight rise in new listings, helping reduce inventories and bringing the months of supply down to levels more consistent with balanced conditions.
  • The steady reduction in oversupply in this market is helping to generate more stability in prices. In January, benchmark prices remained comparable to levels recorded last year.

You want to list your house for HOW MUCH?

We are in a buyer’s market in Calgary, and it’s been like that for awhile. This essentially means that there are more houses for sale than there are active buyers. When this happens a question you must ask yourself is, “Do you really want to sell?” Your home is no longer yours. It is a show home. You’ll be decluttering, cleaning, polishing, organizing, staging. As you work your tail off, remember this is not an experiment to see if your overpriced home will sell. This is real and everything that needs to be done, should be done to perfection. For example, if you noticed the closet door falling off, so will every person that views the home. What bugged you about the house, will bug them even more, because they have the money.

There comes a point, let’s call this point ‘crucial’ where a seller listens to every drop their experienced REALTOR® tells them. The seller will pay attention to all the data their REALTOR® provides, such as what is currently for sale in the community, and what comparable sold over the past year. When selling, a buyer’s market is not the time to shoot for the stars (not a good idea, the closest star is 4.24 light years away). If you absolutely need to move, you may consider being more aggressive in price.

Let’s say you are totally on track to sell and you price your home appropriately. It’s a little bit less than your competition in the neighbourhood. It is in the realm of possibility that it will sell when compared to other homes that have sold in the vicinity. Statistically and scientifically, this way of pricing should work. It should be getting regular showings. Open houses should be busy. An offer should come in sooner and for more money than if it been had priced it higher. If it sells right away, it’s not because it was priced too low, it’s because it was priced right.

Let’s say though, that the sellers know more than the REALTOR® and all the data provided. If within 14-21 days there has been no interest, this is a big problem. It may be too late. Buyers may think something is wrong with the home or it’s simply overpriced. The seller is upset and blames the REALTOR®, the REALTOR® is frustrated and disappointed with themselves, they knew they shouldn’t have taken the listing.

Most know that since 2014 we have seen a downward trend in sales and price. I’d be delighted to see that change, but it is the current reality. The other issue of over valuing a home is our declining market. If the buyer pays too much, they may not have enough equity to sell it in the future. Also to consider, if the bank does an appraisal on an accepted offer, will it appraise out lower? A lower appraisal may mean that a buyer is unable to secure a mortgage.

The average days on market in Calgary is 59. Realistically, if a seller priced right, the property should sell under that time period. Homes priced UNDER $500,000 had sales grow of 9%. Homes OVER $500,000 saw sales decline by 11% last year. Logic (and data) tells me that pricing a home at $499,900 over $509,900 will shorten days on the market and the sale to list price should increase.

You can successfully sell your home. Trust your REALTOR® and listen to their advice. Price it right. Prepare your home. Wait for an offer.

For sale by owner: bad, bad idea!

You may not pay attention to this, but I do. I notice homes that have a FSBO sign (for sale by owner) plunked on the front lawn. Then if I happen to drive by the house again, I slow down and admire the shiny new REALTOR® sign now found in it’s place. It’s a beautiful sight to see.

Some people choose to sell their own homes. I’ll reiterate, if the bold letters in the title didn’t catch your attention, this is a bad, bad idea! Very bad. Why? There are a number of factors that work against an owner when they decide to sell on their own. To state the obvious, they are not trained real estate professionals. Most have absolutely no idea what they are getting into. They just think they’re saving money by not using a REALTOR®. Faced with a choice, and a comparable property, would a buyer rather rely on the skills of a REALTOR® or would they rather deal with a homeowner that lacks the knowledge to successfully navigate a real estate transaction? An experienced real estate professional knows the challenges of real estate and they know how to work through them. In fact, they know a lot of stuff!

A REALTOR® knows how to price a home. They have data and statistics that will support the right price, right at the beginning. An overpriced home can sit for months on the market, wasting the owner’s money and time. Get the price wrong, and out comes the FSBO sign and the cobwebs that cling to it.

What about all the costs associated with selling to sell a home. Let’s consider some of them. They can include advertising, marketing material, signs, staging, professional photographer/certified measurement company, the time showing the property and hosting open houses, the entries on social media/updating/understanding algorithms. What about making sure the buyer is qualified. Is an owner concerned if a buyer (likely unqualified) comes into the house and just happens to be a psychopath. (It’s been known to happen). Are the homeowners qualified to negotiate, do they know what is legally required of them, and are they able to complete all legal documents. What are conveyance documents and how are these prepared for the lawyers?

In a report published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in 2014, over 90% of home buyers begin their search online. Realtor.ca is the most widely used site and is operated by Canadian Real Estate Association. Most FSBO owners do not have their listing on MLS/Realtor.ca. If they do, it’s because they paid a fee to a brokerage. Whether the house sells or doesn’t, that fee, which can be quite substantial, is non refundable. Unlike with a REALTOR®, we are not paid until the house sells. We are paid for success.

I talked to one couple who said they were going to put a for sale sign on their lawn to see what would happen. Apparently from there, osmosis would take over. Nothing happened. No calls, no knock on the door, and not one psychopath. What some FSBO fail to realize is if they do not pay full commission to the buyer’s agent, this gives zero incentive to that agent to even show the house. This already eliminated a number of potential buyers.

Gone are the days when the kids were loaded in back of the station wagon and driven around neighbourhoods so that their parents could scout out ‘House for sale’ signs. People shop for houses now like they would a food processor, in their living room, iPhone in one hand and a glass wine in the other.

A real estate professional works for free until the house is sold. Not a cent is paid in commission until the deal closes. So, their motivation is to quickly sell the property at the highest price possible. I’d say that’s a pretty good incentive. Along with this they provide, also for free, advertising, photographs, documents, their time and a plethora of other tried and true marketing ideas.

In addition to saving the homeowner money, time and hassle, a REALTOR@ will have errors and omission insurance, to limit liability issues. Each professional is a mandatory member of many associations, these are in place, in part, to protect the consumer and enhance their experience. These include REIX (errors and omission insurance); AREA (professional development); CREA (represents the members to the federal government); RECA (sets standards to protect consumers); CREB (advocates for its members). The owner of a FSBO is not represented by any of these organizations. They have no error and omission insurance, and expose themselves to a number of litigious situations. There is no one to fix their problem or be their advocate should a deal go sideways.

Likely you’ve watched TV shows where a couple decides a ‘do-it-yourself’ is going to be fun! They’ll save money and time, they can get it done during their vacation. Everything is planned to a tee. I love these shows because I wait for the most crucial moment of the DIY. This is when the TV camera swings over to one of them crying while the other stands under a cement mixer. Initially though, it’s quite hopeful. They dawn colourful hard hats and t-shirts with a cheerful message. They truly believe the process is going to be easy. YOU TUBE will help them if they get stuck (and likely the production team). As the episodes progress it becomes clearer and clearer that they are heading for a divorce. They’re $80,000 over their budget, they’ve made little progress and short of blowing up the home, they realize this was a bad, bad idea and they are stuck. Not even HGTV or Oprah can help them.

A DYI is basically a different acronym for FSBO. It’s a ‘do it yourself for sale by owner’. Like a DIY, a homeowner can start off optimistic, absolutely sure they can get the house sold. How hard can it be? Most often, they lose money, lose time, and a little bit of their sanity. It’s just not worth it when there is a better and more logical solution, you guessed it, it’s ME! a full-time, full-service boutique REALTOR®.