More homes for sale, prices down after Fort McMurray wildfire

More homes were sold in Fort McMurray in the six-month period following the wildfire compared to the same period before the fire, the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee heard Wednesday in a presentation from realtors.

Red Cross has distributed two-thirds of the $319 million in donations collected following devastating fire

A construction worker helps rebuild two homes on Siltstone Place in Fort McMurray. (Terry Reith/CBC)

More homes were sold in Fort McMurray in the six-month period following the wildfire compared to the same period before the fire, the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee heard Wednesday in a presentation from realtors.

The average sale price of homes dropped as much as 19 per cent in some cases.

Between June 1, last year and Jan. 31, 685 homes were sold compared to 566 during the same period a year before, a difference of 119 homes.

Half-duplexes saw the largest drop in average sale price, almost 19 per cent, while mobile homes made modest gains in price, according to Fort McMurray Realtors.

The group cautioned its numbers only capture publicly advertised sales and don't take into account private sales, nor buyer and seller motivations.

President Andrew Weir speculated factors other than May's wildfire have likely contributed to the number of homes up for sale and the drop in prices.

"The overall slowdown is attributed to the economy and also some mortgage rule changes that have come into place over the last few years," Weir said. "There has also been some work force relocation and some fly-in- fly-out programs that have left extra inventory on the market."

A "For sale" sign adorns a commercial property in Gregoire Industrial Park. (David Thurton/CBC)

Past president Lynn Edwards said she's paying attention to how many homeowners are able to settle difficult insurance claims.

"There's a lot of insurance claims that have not been dealt with that is coming to a bit of a head here," she said. "So it would be interesting to see if there are going to be more houses coming up."

CBC News has done a series of stories featuring the "nightmare" policyholders have experienced with insurance companies as they negotiate wildfire claims.

Red Cross Update

The Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee also heard from the Red Cross Wednesday.

Melanie Soler, associate vice president of disaster management in Alberta, said the organization has spent or committed over 66 per cent of the $319 million it collected from individual donors and matching funds

The Red Cross still accepting Fort McMurray wildfire referrals. Appointments can be made at Red Cross centres in person or over the phone. (David Thurton/CBC)

Soler said the Red Cross spent the following on its Fort McMurray wildfire response:

  • $183 million on relief for individuals and families

  • $10.3 million to 82 community groups and non-profits

  • $17.6 million, with more to come, to more than 4,800 small businesses