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Dustin Henfrey (403) 358-6979

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MARKET UPDATE – July 15, 2017

July 27th, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

STATISTICS FOR CENTRAL ALBERTA

INTEREST RATE CHANGES:

The Bank of Canada announced on July 12th, 2017 that it was raising its trend-setting overnight lending rate from 0.5% to 0.75%. The increase partially unwinds the half-percentage point by which the Bank dropped interest rates in early 2015 following the sudden drop in oil prices in late 2014.

When announcing that it was raising rates for the first time in seven years, the Bank recognized that Canadian economic growth has recently been coming in stronger than it had previously predicted and broadly based.

The Bank suggested future rate hikes will depend on whether economic growth continues to broaden and become more sustainable, whether soft readings on inflation prove to be temporary, and whether exports and business investment improve.

Even under these conditions, the Bank said it remains wary about risks to the Canadian economic outlook posed by protectionist U.S. trade policy and high Canadian household indebtedness. That means the Bank will be cautious about further raising interest rates.

As of July 12th, 2017, the Benchmark five-year lending rate used to stress-test mortgage applications stood at 4.64 per cent, which is unchanged from both the previous Bank rate announcement on May 24th and from one year earlier. That said, Canada’s major chartered banks have recently raised advertised five-year fixed mortgage interest rates by one-fifth of a percent to 2.84 percent – which translates into an increase of $50 per month on a $500,000 mortgage loan ($60 of per month on a $600,000 mortgage loan, etc.).

The next interest rate announcement will be on September 6th, 2017. The next release of the Monetary Policy Report, which will update the Bank’s economic forecast, will be on October 25th, 2017.

MARKET UPDATE – June 30, 2017

July 11th, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

The Red Deer market continues to struggle with year to date sales down 16% when compared to the same time in 2016.  In spite of lower activity levels, the market remains very close to balance and the ATB says recovery is on the way.

Despite signs that the provincial economy is turning a corner, ATB Financial’s most recent Business Beat survey suggests a full economic recovery will still take time.  Optimism about the economy is up compared to last year but the latest round of surveying shows a slight decline in the number of small- and medium-sized businesses that believe Alberta’s economy will be stronger in six months. ATB’s Economy Index slipped from 58.4 in the first quarter of the year to 54.1 in the second quarter. (A value more than 50 means more business owners are more optimistic than not.)

The latest reading of ATB’s Business Index was 64.6, down by 1.5 points from the first quarter. Despite the moderate dips in the two indices, both economic and business optimism levels are above 50 and show that economic sentiment in the province is far better than last year.

We are of the same opinion when it comes to the housing market – there are signs of improvement but the real recovery may be a while coming.  In the meantime, there’s still tremendous opportunities for buyers.

MARKET UPDATE – June 15, 2017

June 26th, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

The central Alberta real estate market has been following similar trends for many years – slower in the winter, strong in the spring, a little slower in the summer and busy again in the fall.  There are some reasons for those trends.  The spring market probably has been the strongest because that’s when oil workers came home at break-up and had some extra time to look at houses and make a move before going back to work.

December and January are slow for obvious reasons – most people don’t have time to move during the Christmas season and many don’t like to move in the winter.

The last half of June and the summer months are also times when many people have other things on their minds – the end of the school year, summer holidays etc.

September, October and November can be quite busy, although rarely as busy as the spring market.

This year, the spring market has not reached levels seen when oil prices were high and the economy was booming.  We have now experienced two and a half years of low oil prices and a slower economy and it shows in the real estate market.  Sales are lower and the number of active listings is higher, which leads to softer prices.

There is evidence that the economy is turning.  Alberta is projected to lead all Canadian provinces in growth this year with GDP predicted to increase by 3%.

So, when can we expect to see a stronger real estate market?  Obviously it depends on oil prices to a large degree, but the real estate market in the last few downturns has always taken at least a year to recover.

That would mean that we could see a return to more normal sales numbers in the spring of 2018.  In the meantime, we expect to see sales and the listing count keep pace with last year and maybe even do a little better.

Again, the good news for those buying and selling in our market – sell low, buy low.  If the house you are selling goes up, the one you buy will go up as well.  Now is the time to take advantage of the large inventory of homes and the vast choices available as well as very favorable interest rates.

Real estate has always been a great investment.  It provides a place to live while growing in value and best of all, the profit at the end is realized TAX FREE!  There just isn’t a better place to put your money.

MARKET UPDATE – May 30, 2017

June 26th, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

May sales in Red Deer were up compared to April but were down compared to May of last year.  The number of active listings I up substantially from last month and is also higher than last year at this time.  In spite of the increasing spread between supply and demand the market manage to stay just inside CMHC’s definition of “balanced”.

Sellers who are wondering why their properties aren’t selling only need to look at the 21% sales to listing ratio.  That means only two out of ten properties for sale on MLS sold last month.  The price of real estate is dictated by the relationship between Supply and Demand just like the price of oil or lumber.  When there are only two buyers for every 10 homes on the market, those buyers will naturally turn to the one that offers the most value for the money.

No amount of slick or aggressive marketing can overcome a price that is obviously too high when the property is compared with others on the market.  It is understandable that homeowners expect their property to be worth more than they paid for it, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case.  The one thing to remember is that prices in a local market are almost always relative – if you sell low, you will also buy low.

MARKET UPDATE – May 15, 2017

May 21st, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

Red Deer sales in the first two weeks in May were up from the same time in April, but down compared to the first two weeks of May 2016. Year to date sales in Red Deer continue to lag behind the same time last year while overall central Alberta sales are up 7.5% year over year.

There have been many reports that the Alberta economy is improving after two years of recession. Several leading economic indicators are referenced in support of that theory. Oil prices have spent most of 2017 hovering over US$50, just recently dropping under that magic mark. Ramped up production in the US and Canada has increased supplies again, driving prices down. Recent news that OPEC has stated they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep prices stable has pushed the price back closer to US$50 in the last few days.

No matter what the politicians tell us, the strength of the Alberta economy is still heavily reliant on energy. There is no doubt that higher prices have increased activity in our energy sector, and more economic activity in any sector helps boost all the other sectors. But to assume that will change the housing market overnight would be a bit of a stretch.

Many people employed by the energy industry are back at work, but at reduced incomes. Energy company profits are still thin, but those still in business have become much more efficient and able to survive in the new lower price reality. It will take some time for their employees to get back on their feet and start thinking about investing money in new homes.

In the meantime, the housing market has survived based on activity by those not as affected by energy prices. Those families have an amazing opportunity to take advantage of more choice, less competition, lower prices and very low interest rates. Those with 20% down payments are in the best position to take advantage.

Buyers with less than 20% down require their mortgages to be insured and the federal government made that much more difficult with rules that require buyers to qualify at a high artificial rate as opposed to the actual rate they can borrow at.

The purpose of that program was to slow down heated markets in Toronto and Vancouver. Unfortunately the policy was applied across Canada and has had a very negative effect on markets already affected by low energy prices.

In a nutshell, the central Alberta real estate market has survived and will continue to do so. Ample supply and low demand in virtually every price range have moved prices off their highs reached in 2014. Smart buyers will take advantage now if they can. It is difficult to go against the flow and easy to think that prices may still go lower, but once those economic indicators start to turn, it is likely real estate prices aren’t too far behind.

MARKET UPDATE – April 30, 2017

May 21st, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

It feels like the spring market in Red Deer, like the weather, still hasn’t arrived.  The percentage drop in year over year sales at 15.3% is not what most people would have expected this year so far, but we aren’t surprised because we know that a recovery in the real estate market always lags behind an economic recovery by a year or so.  In spite of the year over year decline in sales, the number of active listings is lower than a year ago which has helped push the sales to listings ratio just into balanced territory.

What does the future hold?  As tough as the last two years have been, fortunately, it is looking brighter….

The Alberta Treasury Branch summed up the last two years in Alberta this way – Many Albertans felt it. And the latest numbers confirm it. Alberta’s economy contracted another 3.8 per cent in 2016. This follows a similar decline of 3.7 per cent in 2015.  It was the second consecutive year that real gross domestic product (GDP) contracted, the last time this happened was in 1982 and 1983….

The last couple of years have been tough for Albertans and the provincial economy. But it is expected to get better in 2017. ATB is forecasting real GDP growth this year in the two to three per cent range. This represents an end to two consecutive years of recession and welcomes in an era of modest growth.

MARKET UPDATE – April 15, 2017

May 21st, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

RED DEER Year to date MLS sales of all property types in central Alberta are up 6.7% over the same period last year while year to date sales in Red Deer are down 13.4%  It’s difficult to pinpoint the reason for the discrepancy and it is unusual that Red Deer is down when the rest of the area is up.  It may be that people are being forced into the less expensive small markets by tighter mortgage rules.

The Red Deer market has not started April as well as it did last year.  The number of active listings is up significantly while sales are off slightly compared to the same time last year.  The comments below from ATB suggest that the economy is on the mend and some of our laid off workers are going back on the job.  All good news, but they probably won’t start buying houses right away.  The next few months will be used to catch up, pay bills and get some stability back in their lives.  Buying a home is probably at least a few months away.

That leaves those who have maintained their jobs through the recession.  Those who are thinking about a move would be well advised to do it soon, before those laid off workers get back on their feet.  The situation couldn’t be more perfect to buy – low interest rates with the threat of increases soon, lots of good inventory and a market where supply outweighs demand all spell “opportunity”.

Excerpts from The Owl, by ATB Economics

Manufacturing getting a lift from stronger oil prices ….another in a string of indicators that suggest Alberta is shaking off the recession and heading towards better days in 2017. In February, the value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta rose to $5.7 billion, an increase of 1.4 per cent over January.

The news is even better than that. From its lowest point during the recession in January of 2016, manufacturing shipments in our province have now increased by 15 per cent. That’s not quite enough to get it back to the pre-recession highs, but it has been steadily increasing over the last 12 months.

Production is Up!  While Alberta has oil reserves, it doesn’t mean they will be produced. Massive amounts of investment, expertise, creativity and technology are needed to locate, extract, transport and sell oil. This is a risky business that is subject to complex market forces and public policy.
In addition to those challenges, Alberta is landlocked and the oil trapped in the oil sands is not as easy to extract as conventional crude—factors which put us at a disadvantage when it comes to transforming our oil resources into viable business ventures.

Despite these challenges, Alberta produced 137 per cent more oil in 2015 than it did in 1985. In 2014, Alberta’s total annual production rose above one billion barrels for the first time and reached 1.1 billion barrels (3.1 million barrels per day) in 2015. Production fell in 2016 by 17 per cent as a result of the Fort McMurray forest fires but – barring another natural disaster — should fully recover and increase again in 2017.

MARKET UPDATE – March 30, 2017

May 21st, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

Sales in Red Deer in the first quarter of 2017 were down from the same time in 2016 by 14.5% which is a little surprising considering the Alberta economy is supposed to be on the mend.  There are a couple of facts that will help in understanding this trend.  First, there is more activity in Red Deer than last year, but it hasn’t translated into firm sales yet.  At the end of March, there were a large number of pending sales that should help boost April’s numbers closer to normal.  Second, an improving economy normally doesn’t translate into an active housing market for a while.  The housing market typically lags as much as a year behind the economy.

The number of active listings is down compared to the same time last year, which is a good sign that the market has survived quite well in spite of the economic situation.  One of the reasons the Alberta housing market has survived as well as it has is that in spite of what we’ve been experiencing here, the net population losses have been minimal.  According to ATB’s The Owl, over the last five quarters of recession, we’ve suffered a net population loss of only 11,000 people.

Compare that with the 20 quarters leading up to the 4th quarter of 2015 when Alberta welcomed more than 133,000 net new people to Alberta.  So, in spite of all our recent troubles, Alberta is obviously still a great place to live.

MARKET UPDATE – March 15, 2017

March 21st, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

Mid month sales in March were down a little in Red Deer when compared to last month. We would like to blame that slower market on the weather, but that wouldn’t explain why sales are even or up in our other central Alberta markets compared to this time last month.

The number of active listings is up across all of central Alberta, which is normal for this time of year, although recent optimism about the economy may have encouraged a few more sellers to test the water. Year to date sales for all of central Alberta are up 8.8% when compared to the same time last year, a sign that the market is finally turning.

Moving into the third year of an exceptionally tough economic slowdown, the market has survived remarkably well. However, buyers still have the advantage, and probably will for much of the year. Anyone that is able to buy now should give serious consideration to the fact that interest rates are predicted to rise and if the market recovers, prices will as well.

No one can identify the bottom of the market exactly, but there is some evidence we are very close. Anyone looking to take advantage should do so soon.

February Job Numbers Show Signs of Improvement, ATB Financial

Even though the job situation for thousands of Albertans is still difficult, Statistics Canada’s latest employment report shows a slight improvement in February.

Between January and February, Alberta’s labour market gained approximately 1,300 jobs. Despite shedding 18,000 part-time jobs last month, the good news for Alberta’s economy is that this decrease was offset by 19,300 full-time jobs, suggesting a generous increase in the quality of available work.

The size of Alberta’s labour force (i.e., the number of people actively working or looking for work) fell by 14,100 people in February. The decline in the labour force may indicate that those in search of work are starting to feel discouraged. That said, the drop in the size of Alberta’s labour force and the net gain to employment was enough to nudge the provincial unemployment rate down from 8.8 per cent in January to 8.3 per cent in February.

February’s job report has shown early promise and potentially set a theme of modest growth for this year. Still, employers may remain reluctant to start hiring back too many workers which suggests Alberta job seekers could experience a few more difficult months. However, with stability in various sectors and overall business confidence improving, the job market will continue to show positive progress, in moderation.

Red Deer March 2017

MARKET UPDATE – March 1, 2017

March 9th, 2017 by Dustin Henfrey

February sales in Red Deer were up slightly from January while the active listing count was also up, keeping the market attractive for buyers.  Year to date sales are down 11% when compared to the same time last year, but the good news is that the economy seems to be turning around and hopefully we’ll see things improve moving into the spring market.

The just released ATB Economic Update states that “Alberta’s economy is emerging from the worst downturn it has experienced in three decades.  Yet even as green shoots of optimism appear, the path forward remains unclear.  The global economy continues down an uneasy road…  but, Canada’s economy is picking up momentum, especially around job growth…

After suffering two consecutive years of contraction, Alberta’s economy has turned the corner and can expect modest improvements in 2017.  The greatest improvements have come within the all-important energy sector – higher prices and pipeline approvals (though construction is not assured) have lifted confidence.  Other industries such as agriculture and tourism are showing strength, while construction, forestry and housing remain fragile.

ATB is forecasting real GDP growth of 2.2 percent this year and 2.3 per cent on 2018.


Dustin Henfrey, RE/MAX Real Estate Central AB
4440-49 Avenue, Red Deer, Alberta, T4N 3W6
Tel: 403-358-6979 Fax: 403-340-3085
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