Calgary home sales rise after plummeting during pandemic

Home sales in Calgary rose 12 per cent this quarter, despite plummeting at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calgary Real Estate Board says buyers and sellers held off at beginning of COVID-19

The city's home sales rose by 12 per cent in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Home sales in Calgary rose nearly 12 per cent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, despite plunging at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according the Calgary Real Estate Board's latest report.

Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB chief economist, says the increase is due in part to buyers and sellers holding off during the beginning of the pandemic in the spring.

"We saw lending rates start to come down as well. So, we have a drop in lending rates and that has kind of encouraged people to get in," Lurie said.

"As far as people holding off on listing … I mean, we saw that people just weren't willing to put their house on the market at the time. That trend is changing a bit. We are seeing that start to trend up again."

The CREB report notes there were also some "modest improvements" in prices, which trended up in the third quarter compared with the second quarter, to only one per cent below last year's levels.

Sales increase for detached homes

Lurie says sales vary depending on property type and right now they're seeing a rise in sales for single detached homes that are priced between the low to mid range.

"Even though we're seeing some modest improvements in pricing, like prices are trending up, there is a real big difference in the type of market," she said.

"So for property types, we've seen most of these improvements have been really driven by the detached market.

The report says detached sector sales are better than they've been in the past five years, which is partly because of declining lending rates and lower prices.

This is the case for Calgary's City Centre, which saw an oversupply of detached houses.

"The City Centre is the only district to record further price easing in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, and prices remain over three per cent lower than last year's levels," reads the report.

As for the apartment sector, Lurie says apartment condominium rates are still slow, and according to the report, sales have eased by nearly 11 per cent compared with the same period last year.

"Slower sales were met with further gains in new listings, causing inventories to rise above both last quarter's and last year's levels," the report says.

As well, Calgary's North district was the only one to see a gain in prices.

Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks and more

Communities around Calgary also saw a rise in home sales.

For Airdrie, sales soared to the second-highest quarter ever recorded, with improvements occurring for all property types.

This was also similar in Cochrane, since the gain there was enough to offset the pullbacks associated with COVID-19.

In Okotoks, sales increased by 16 per cent from last year's third quarter.

"New listings continued to ease, which is reducing inventory levels. The significant drop in inventory, especially for homes priced between $300,000 and $400,000, likely prevented a stronger recovery in home sales," the report says.

Chestermere, High River and Strathmore also saw sales increase.

Despite current conditions in the housing market, Lurie says people should still remain cautious due to:

  • Exceptionally high unemployment with fears of additional job losses in the energy sector.
  • The possibility of widespread shutdowns in a second wave of COVID-19.
  • The fact that the housing market has benefited from government income support programs and banks letting people defer their mortgages.

With files from Tahirih Foroozan


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