'Be really realistic,' advises real estate agent as Calgary sales drop 18%

Local home sales in February were 18 per cent lower than they were a year earlier, according to a new report by the Calgary Real Estate Board.

Report finds fewer houses sold last month in the city than in February 2017

Home sales were down in February in the city, compared with sales in February of 2017, a new report from the Calgary Real Estate Board says. (David Horemans/CBC)

As Calgary real estate sales lag this year, a prominent city realtor is recommending sellers price their homes aggressively.

Home sales in the city for February were 18 per cent lower than they were a year earlier, according to a new report by the Calgary Real Estate Board.

"You have to be really realistic," real estate agent Len Wong told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday. "The market isn't what it was three years ago."

Len Wong has worked as a real estate agent in Calgary for about 30 years. (CBC)

In Calgary, the prices for detached and attached single family homes are about the same as last year, while condos are selling for about three per cent less. The condo market is considered "oversupplied," the board report said.

Wong, who heads Len T. Wong and Associates, suggests lowering asking prices to avoid getting "stuck."

"I think people have to be really proactive and aggressive in the marketplace. I think you have to price the house in front of people," Wong said. "If you're in the pack like everybody else, you're going to basically get stuck — like everybody else."

Houses moving in prime locations

Be diligent with staging and presenting your home well, and compare it with others for sale in your neighbourhood, said Wong, who has worked as an agent in Calgary for about 30 years.

This is especially important for people selling outside of downtown and inner-city neighbourhoods such as West Hillhurst, he said. Homes are moving in prime locations, but are selling more slowly in the newer areas to the south and north of the city.

"I think the key for sellers is to make sure you get people in to see your house," Wong said. "If you don't get people in, it doesn't matter what you and I do."

New rules blamed

The low sales are likely being driven by new lending regulation and rising rates, the report said, calling this a sign of "a bumpy road to recovery."

The real estate board previously forecasted, as well, that those higher interest rates and stricter mortgage criteria would offset the city's economic rebound.

At the start of 2018, a new federally mandated mortgage stress test for uninsured buyers came into effect to curb debt loads. It was predicted to block about 50,000 people from buying.

Since it came into place, some mortgage brokers have said rejected buyers are seeking mortgages from private lenders — considered to be risky options — beyond the reach of the new rules.

Wong said the poor weather and heavy snow has been deterring some buyers from going out to peruse the offerings. He does recommend buyers brave the snow anyway.

As the current market stands, he says he's seeing houses go for below asking price.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary's special focus on our city as it passes through the crucible of the downturn: the challenges we face, and the possible solutions as we explore what kind of Calgary we want to create. Have an idea? Email us at calgarytheroadahead@cbc.ca.

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