CALGARY - After eight consecutive months of year-over-year declines, MLS sales for single-family homes in Calgary showed a positive move forward in January to begin the new year.
According statistics released Tuesday by the Calgary Real Estate Board, there were 787 single-family sales last month, up from 762 in January 2010. Condominium sales however continued to struggle during the month posting the ninth consecutive year-over-year decline with only 297 transactions in January compared with 376 a year ago.
Average prices for both single-family homes and condos were up from January 2010.
Chad and Melissa Kroeker were an example of the people who took the plunge in January and decided to buy a house in Wood Valley Estates through their realtor Claudia Walz of Re/Max House of Real Estate.
The couple had searched for a property for about six months.
"We're really excited about our place that we found. It's always a challenge to kind of break apart the good financial decision mixed with the emotion. This is a house that we want to raise our children. So it wasn't something that we were just looking at it for the next few years," said Chad Kroeker.
The couple looked at the real estate market a year ago in January but there was plenty of turmoil still in the economic world at that time.
"I'm a business owner myself and last January it kind of felt like it was not the greatest time in business. Whereas this year it kind of felt that the buzz was a lot more positive," said Kroeker.
"We waited. This time we felt we weren't as concerned about what was going on with the market and more concerned about getting into a place."
According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the average single-family sale price in January was $454,287 and the median price was $390,000 while the condo average was $287,954 with a median of $255,000.
The condo average price was boosted with the record $4.1 million sale of a penthouse suite in Eau Claire.
In December, there were 734 single-family home sales for an average MLS sale price of $441,341 and a median price of $389,000. The condo market had 320 transactions for an average price of $282,768 and a median price of $258,500.
A year ago in January 2010, the average MLS sale price for a single-family home was $441,217 and the median price was $398,000 on 762 transactions. The average condo sale price was $282,639 with a median price of $265,000 on 376 sales.
In a news release, real estate board president Sano Stante said the city is seeing an uptick in the sale of single-family homes below the $350,000 price point.
"This may suggest more first-time homebuyers are entering the market, providing the fuel needed for a sustained housing recovery," he said.
"The recovery in 2011 will be incremental and gradual . . . Overall, the first quarter of 2011 will show modest improvements in sales which will lay the foundation for the return to a more balanced market."
Richard Cho, senior market analyst for Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said "the pace of sales continues to remain modest however activity is expected to gradually improve as the year progresses."
"Prospective buyers will look to take advantage of the historically low mortgage rates as they are expected to be relatively flat for 2011," he said. "Stabilizing prices will also attract buyers into the market, especially those who were on the fence waiting for prices to improve."