Regina mayor says there is appetite for new subdivisions, despite market slowdown

One Regina realtor says there is a huge vacancy rate in the homes currently for sale.

More than 1,600 homes on the market, including more than 600 vacant, says Regina realtor

One Regina Realtor says there is a huge vacancy rate in the homes currently for sale. (CBC)

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere is defending the city's expansion despite a slumping housing market.

Right now, according to one Regina realtor, there are 1,620 active listings on the market, with 672 of those homes being vacant. 

But Fougere said there "appears to be an appetite for the private sector to have some more land for development."

"Our job as council is to provide for orderly growth that's sustainable," the mayor said.

"Over the long haul, I think we have a positive message of growth but there certainly has been a slowdown, no question."

In September of this year, there were 238 home sales recorded in Regina, according to the Association of Regina Realtors — the lowest number since 2005 and a 19 per cent drop from the year before.

According to Statistics Canada, housing prices in Regina dropped 2.1 per cent from August 2017 to August 2018. From July to August of this year, housing prices dropped 0.7 per cent.

'It's definitely a buyer's market'

Regina realtor Brin Werrett said he thinks the slump has a few causes.

"Some are saying stress test, some are saying it's economic factors, and I think it's a little bit of everything," he said. 

Under new rules that came into effect on Jan. 1 of this year, new mortgage holders must either have a 20 per cent down payment or qualify for mortgage insurance, meaning they must meet a stress test that shows they'll be able to afford payments even if rates rise.

Werrett said the rental market is putting pressure on the housing market as well. 

"We're seeing some huge rental projects go up with 300, 400 units in some of these neighbourhoods," he said. 

"It's some of those projects that are hurting a lot of the resale. They're taking those tenants that might have bought instead."

Right now is a good time to be a buyer, according to Werrett. 

"It's definitely a buyer's market," he said. 

"Buyers have lots of choice. They're looking at 10, 20 properties ahead of time and moving on from one to the next if it's just not perfect.

"And when they do find the one, they've got a lot of bargaining power because they [might be] the only ones looking or offering in the last couple months on a property."

With files from Sam Maciag