Home prices dipped in Yellowknife last year, following national trend

The average price of a home sold in Yellowknife dropped nearly 5 per cent in the last 12 months before April. But at least one real estate agent says that’s a reflection of the types of homes people are buying -- not a drop in how much a home is worth.

Real estate agent says drop in prices due to more people buying cheaper properties

The average price of a home sold in Yellowknife dropped nearly five per cent in the last 12 months before April. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

The average price of a home sold in Yellowknife dropped nearly five per cent in the last 12 months before April. But at least one real estate agent says that's a reflection of the types of homes people are buying — not a drop in how much a home is worth.

Last month, Realtors reported that 24 homes were sold in Yellowknife, with the average price being $408,785.

In April 2017, the average price of the 15 homes that were sold was $430,244, explained Mike Lalonde, a real estate agent with Century 21.   

Mike Lalonde is a real estate agent with Century 21. (Submitted by Mike Lalonde)

Lalonde compiled the data from a multiple listing service with electronically reported statistics for Yellowknife. It did not include data on any private sales during that time.

The Yellowknife numbers fall in line with a nationwide dip in average home prices between April 2017 and April 2018.  

Across Canada, the average home price dropped 11 per cent over the past year, driven by cooler markets in Toronto and Vancouver, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Tuesday. But if sales from those markets are stripped out, the average home price dropped by only 4.1 per cent nationally.

The association placed blame for the national dip, in part, on new mortgage stress test rules that came into effect in January. 

But things are different in Yellowknife, where the sample size is small enough to be skewed by more purchases of mobile homes and condominiums, Lalonde explained.

"Definitely, the few extra listings [this April] came in the sub-$400,000 bracket, which helped balance it out a bit, condos or manufactured homes," Lalonde said. "When we look at the average price of $415,000 last year, we're right on pace."

I don't see any drastic changes.- Mike Lalonde, real estate agent with Century 21

Other metrics, like the number of days homes are on the market, also show the housing market is similar to last year.

Homes sold in April 2017 were on the market for an average of 51 days, in April 2018 the average was 56 days, Lalonde said.

"We're consistent with what's going on in the second-half of last year. I don't see any drastic changes," he said. "It's still early, but everything is on pace to be the way it was last year."   

Sam Gamble, a developer with CloudWorks, a real estate investment company in Yellowknife, also doesn't take much stock in using the average price as a barometer for the city's housing market.

The home retail market in Yellowknife often changes based on income and the cost of materials, not changes in land value, Gamble explained. He said that's largely because of the base of federal and territorial government workers in the city and their stable incomes.

"Average income and total family income will generally show you how many people are available in Yellowknife to buy a home," he said. "That will give you a good idea of how healthy the market is."

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported a similar dip between 2016 and 2017 in its Northern Housing Report.

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