Gaining momentum

New listings up; Calgarians making the choice to buy in tight rental market

Not even a snowy spring kept sales and listings this April from increasing over last years’ numbers.

CREB®’s monthly stats reported new residential listings for April at 3,754 units, an eight per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

“[Buying] made the most sense,” said Sarah Hammond, a previous homeowner who purchased a home in the
southeast with her boyfriend, a firsttime buyer. “I already owned a condo so was not interested in trying to fight
the rental market to pay. Basically mortgage payments are the same or less than rental fees right now.”

While Hammond said she and her boyfriend didn’t find the search for a new home “terribly challenging”,
others aren’t finding homes with the same ease.

“I have friends who have also bought a home recently [who] basically had to make a decision immediately when they found a house that was okay,” she said.

While new listings are up, inventory for the month of April saw a decrease of more than 16 per cent compared to the
same time last year.

“While we did anticipate the rise in new listings this spring, certain segments of the market will likely remain
tight,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB®’s chief economist. “The single-family market continues to record declining
listings for product priced below $400,000. Meanwhile, the growth in listings in April was mostly due to gains in the $500,000 to $999,999 range.”

A tighter market for affordable homes might sway some buyers, yet in the case of a rental crunch like Calgary’s, homeownership can be a good alternative. A CIBC World Market report released in February found Calgary and Edmonton have the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country at one and 1.4 per cent respectively.

Other alternatives for those looking to become homeowners are corporations like Attainable Homes, a program providing eligible Calgarians with a home of their own.

Making the move to Calgary from Montreal, Kristyne Dolan and her boyfriend Courtney Figueira decided renting was the best option for them before stumbling upon Attainable Homes.

“I looked it up and thought ‘No way, this is too good to be true,’” said Dolan. “I went to one of their education sessions and I have never gone through such an easy process, ever. It was just fast, clear, straight to the
point and within like three months I was in a place.”

There were 1,736 single-family sales in Calgary in April, a year-over-year increase of eight per cent compared to
April 2013. In the condo sector, an 11.2 per cent increase in new listings for the month of April was a welcome statistic pushing inventory three per cent higher than 2013’s numbers.

“Improved selection in the market is welcome news,” said CREB® President Bill Kirk. “Many consumers
are interested in entering the market but the lack of choice poses challenges. While we are still early in the season, if this trend continues, it should provide more opportunities for consumers who have been unsuccessful with finding properties.”

Calgary homebuyers continue to have to dig a little deeper when it comes to purchasing a home as price gains continued across all property types in April. The unadjusted single-family benchmark price totaled $496,700 in April, a 9.67 per cent increase over April 2013 and up 1.24 per cent compared to March.

“Gains in employment and net migration have supported demand growth in the housing sector,” said Lurie. “However, with unadjusted prices only recently recovering in some sectors, it is not a surprise that resale supply has
not kept pace. As prices continue to improve and lending rates remain low, this should help support further gains in new listings, easing some of the tightness in the market.”

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