Resale market gathers strength

Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was wanting to start the new year on an optimistic note, or maybe people were just being spontaneous.

Whatever the reason, as January moved along there seemed to be more open house signs popping up around the city -- and "for sale" signs with "sold" stickers slapped on them.

By the end of the month, January was slightly stronger for sales than December.

The Calgary Real Estate Board says 550 single-detached homes inside the city limits changed hands in January, up from 449 in December.

As well, 225 condominiums were sold, 20 more than the previous month.

Outside the city in the rural communities, sales in January reached 148, up from 113 for December.

"Indeed, it is a tough market (for sellers), but I'm pleased to see sales picking up over December," says CREB president Bonnie Wegerich. "Although numbers are down from January 2008, we are seeing increased activity and more interest from buyers."

Ron Stanners, a past-president for the board and broker/owner of Max-Well South Star Realty, says activity among realtors in his office picked up in January by about 55 per cent from December.

"Sales are up, that's a good sign," he says.

"And the flow of listings has slowed. I think a large number of investors have sold or rented their properties, which is one of the issues that has been affecting the market."

The number of new single-detached resale home listings added to the market last month totalled 2,068, down from 3,023 for the same month a year ago--with the comparative month-end inventories almost unchanged at about 4,000.

The condo inventory also held steady at near 1,900.

"While there's still a good selection of homes to choose from, we are seeing a slow but steady decrease in our inventory," says Wegerich. "As the inventory is reduced, we will see a return to a more stable market."

Stanners has been in the business long enough to know there will always be ups and downs, particularly in the Calgary marketplace.

"This market is not that bad -- price declines were minimal from December," says Stanners.

For January, the board reports the average price at $413,049,down from$417,398 in December. The condo average slipped to $270,940, declining from $274,919.

But Stanners says that because 2006 and 2007 were so volatile, it's difficult to make comparisons.

He says that 2004 and 2005 were "good years" and compared to them, the 2008 market was only about 20 per cent off.

From a financial aspect, Stanners also says buyers should be getting into the market sooner than later.

"If you bought a home today and the price dropped 10 per cent in the next year and mortgage rates went up one per cent, it would still cost you less to buy today -- and you'd have the home paid off a year earlier," he says.

Marty Hope
Calgary Herald

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