CALGARY - A booming luxury market, and tight overall conditions with listings not keeping pace with demand, has pushed Calgary house prices to unprecedented levels.
Average sale and median prices hit all-time records for the city in 2013 for both total MLS transactions and in the single-family home category, according to data released Thursday by the Calgary Real Estate Board.
The average sale price for total MLS reached $456,703 for the year, up 6.54 per cent from 2012, while the single-family average price rose by 7.61 per cent to $517,887.
The median sale price for total MLS was $401,000 and it was $450,000 for single-family homes. The median price rose by 5.53 per cent from the previous year for total MLS and it was a 7.14 per cent hike in the single-family market.
Also, December capped a solid year for the residential real estate market with the highest-ever monthly average sale price at $527,764, eclipsing the previous record of $526,546 set in June 2013.
"Momentum was building from the last quarter of 2012," said Christina Hagerty, a realtor with RE/MAX Realty Professionals in Calgary. "We approached 2013 with low interest rates, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and the lowest vacancy rate in the past decade. Employment growth and higher than expected net migration into the city helped support the demand for housing and increased sales and pricing. 2013 was an extremely busy year for us with informed and prepared purchasers.
"People talk about the flood adding to this, but I focus on the amazing ability for a city to rebound in a very short period of time. Something that may have devastated other major centres. I believe that this is largely due to the sense of community and the job market allowing people the ability to rebuild."
The previous records for average sale prices were set in 2012 at $428,649 for total MLS and $481,259 for single-family homes. The previous records for median prices were set in 2007 at $382,000 for total MLS and in both 2007 and 2012 at $420,000 for the single-family market.
Average prices in the city ballooned this year as a result of a strong luxury market that set a record for most transactions ever at $1 million or more.
devastated other major centres. I believe that this is largely due to the sense of community and the job market allowing people the ability to rebuild.”
According to Mike Fotiou, associate broker with First Place Realty, there were 727 luxury home sales in 2013, which was a 33.6 per cent hike from the previous annual peak in 2012. The year was marked by 10 consecutive months of new monthly sales records. Only January and December did not set records in 2013.
Total MLS sales in the city reached 23,489 units in 2013, up 10.78 per cent from the previous year. New listings of 32,153 were up 0.97 per cent but active listings at the end of December were down by 17.80 per cent to 2,235.
"Companies are recruiting professionals across Canada and globally and this has put Calgary on the map as a thriving metropolis of opportunity and a safe place to raise their families," said Hagerty. "With vacancy rates at one per cent and an abundance of job opportunity, there is a confidence in the city. 2014 looks to continue with solid growth fueled by sound fundamentals."
MLS sales and percentage increase from 2012 for different housing categories were: single-family, 16,302, 7.92 per cent; condo apartment, 4,007, 14.45 per cent; condo townhouse, 3,180, 22.40 per cent; and towns, 4,516, 13.81 per cent.
Average sale price and percentage increase from 2012 were: single-family, $517,887, 7.61 per cent; condo apartment, $299,517, 5.17 per cent; condo townhouse, $341,116, 7.73 per cent; and towns, $381,884, 9.55 per cent.
Median price and percentage increase from 2012 were: single-family, $450,000, 7.14 per cent; condo apartment, $261,000, 3.78 per cent; condo townhouse, $306,000, 6.45 per cent; and towns, $355,700, 6.18 per cent.
Scott Bollinger, broker with the ComFree Commonsense Network, said prices in Calgary climbed because of increased sales and listings not keeping pace with the demand.
"Most notably in 2013 we saw rising wages, low interest rates and record in-migration. So it’s not surprising after three to five years of relatively little price growth, and despite the steady employment and the wage growth along with record low interest rates, that prices surged this year," he said.
"Add to that the Alberta and Calgary economies outperformed almost every other region in Canada in 2013 by a wide margin, which had the effect of attracting all of those people. But the interesting thing is that 70 per cent of the net migration to Calgary in particular was international. And the other thing about the migration was that we set a record this year for the growth of the cohort of ages between 25 and 45 and those people, along with the international crowd, are most likely to engage in household formation."
Bollinger said he is surprised that the listings didn’t catch up with the sales. He said the market might expect to see more of a reaction from the listing side early in the new year.
"If we don’t see that increase in listings, I think we’re going to continue to see farily significant price increases," said Bollinger.
In a statement, Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist, said sales growth exceeded expectations in 2013, pushing above long-term trends.
"Two consecutive years of elevated levels of net migration, combined with an improving job outlook and confidence surrounding long-term economic prospects, supported the demand growth," she said.
"In 2014, both sales activity and prices are expected to improve, but not at the same pace recorded this year. While factors influencing demand will support growth in 2014, rising listings and increased competition from the new home sector should alleviate some of the supply pressure in the market."
Those factors, combined with potential increases in long-term lending rates, should take some of the steam off the exceptionally strong price growth recorded in 2013, said Lurie.