We survived! 2015 was the toughest year in a long long time. Even 2008 didn't hit us as hard. With prices down, but mortgage rates still low, a large portion of our buyers were renters taking advantage of both. I suspect that trend will continue into 2016, so we will continue to focus on meeting the service needs of our buyers in order to sell the property we have listed. Inventory is still high but not as high as it was at the beginning of the year - having said that, we still have more than a year's worth of homes available and it will take awhile to absorb what we have and what will continue to come onto the market.
There are decisions surrounding Boundary Dam and the clean coal project that will have to be made in 2016 if the plants are to remain viable. The residents of this community need to articulate their concerns to our provincial government. Without those upgrades, the plants will slowly but surely be de-commissioned and the long term future of Estevan is at risk. Saskpower and Westmoreland are our biggest employers and we need to do whatever we can to keep our plants operational. Not to mention the fact that this technology can assist developing countries, most of whom are extremely reliant on coal, to "clean up" their act. The world needs this technology because coal cannot quickly be replaced in the short term and the demand for energy keeps increasing. My passion for this topic is in part because I live with someone who has worked on this project and has faith in the technology - but also because it will have a huge economic impact on our city if it does not go forward. In many ways I think it could have more impact than the oil industry - the oil industry is the bonus in this area - but power generation and farming are our backbone. We have to do what we can to keep power generation alive for the long term.
Back to real estate - prices seem to have leveled out, and I believe we are back to 2010/11 pricing. The cost to build has not decreased, so I don't see prices falling much more. I do expect unit sales to remain at 2015 levels, which is 50% less than 2012 and less than the 10 year average. A rebound in the energy sector would change that but there is nothing to indicate that will happen in 2016.
All in in all, we are going to have to work extra hard with buyers to show them everything available and give them enough information to make an informed decision and feel confident with their choice and price paid. Sellers will have to price competitively and put their best foot forward - sprucing up and staging is critical. 2016 promises to be another interesting and challenging year, but I have every confidence our office is up to it. We live, breathe and eat real estate every day.