Younger buyers fuel resurgence (By Marty Hope, Calgary Herald July 22, 2011)

Young buyers continue to provide the fuel for the continuing resurgence of Calgary’s resale housing market.

At one time between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, young people — mostly first-time buyers — accounted for something like 35 per cent of all homebuyers in and around the city.

While those statistics are no longer kept by anyone, anecdotal evidence from the Calgary Real Estate Board shows such buyers are back in the marketplace — and, in many cases, looking at condos because of the lower prices compared to single-family homes.

“Improved housing demand is being fuelled by a younger demographic and, with the affordability of homes in Calgary, we are continuing to see young Calgarians pursue ownership over rentals,” says CREB president Sano Stante.

His comments came on the heels of the board’s most recent activity report showing that sales of resale condos nearly matched those of single-family homes on a percentage basis.

There were 581 condo transactions for June, up 31 per cent compared to the same month a year ago — only one per cent behind the total for detached single-family homes.

“Condo sales bounced back in June and we now have less than four months supply,” says Stante. “Stronger condo sales, combined with a decline in inventory, will lend more balance to this market in the months to come.”

Much of the appeal of condos comes from their price relative to that of detached homes.

The average selling price in June of resale condos in Calgary was $296,501, compared to $479,580 for single-family homes.

In its monthly report, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. also noted an increase in construction of multi-family housing — most of which was condos.

Work started in June on 269 semi-detached homes, apartments and townhouses, up from 154 a year ago, says senior market analyst Richard Cho of CMHC.

Construction starts for “all three multi-family housing types last month outpaced 2010 levels,” he says, adding that the market will likely continue to strengthen as the year progresses.

“To the end of June, multi-family starts reached 1,180 units, down just eight per cent from the first half of 2010,” says Cho.

Getting back to the resale sector and younger buyers, the single-family housing part of that market has not been sloughing off.

In actual numbers, there were 1,398 sales in June, up from 1,059 the year before.

“Historically, Calgary’s average family income has been higher than the national average — and a younger, more mobile demographic has been attracted to good-paying professional jobs in Calgary,” says Stante. “As the economy continues to build momentum, we expect this same trend to support a balanced and healthy housing market in the second half of this year and into 2012.”

For its part, CMHC has been calling for a stronger second half for both single- and multi-family home builders as the economy continues to strengthen, job creation picks up and migration of people to Calgary grows.

And you can bet younger buyers will make up a good portion.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Farrah Khoja

Farrah Khoja

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CENTURY 21 Bamber Realty Ltd.
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