Western Canada and the Prairies
There was robust market activity across much of Western Canada during the first quarter of 2014. In what was a tale of two winters, Vancouver and Victoria saw year-over-year price gains during an unusually mild January and February. At the same time, below average temperatures in cities such as Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon were not enough to cool local market sales, where house prices also continued to climb. And while Winnipeg and Regina did experience market slowdowns, both regions show signs of increased activity as warmer temperatures motivate both buyers and sellers to enter the market.
"Western Canada is poised for strong housing market activity during the all-important spring and summer sales season," said Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. "With Winnipeg's healthy agricultural and manufacturing sectors, sturdy job markets in Regina, Saskatoon and across Alberta, as well as the cultural and economic draw of Victoria and the Greater Vancouver Area, our RE/MAX agents across the West expect to be busy in the months ahead."
At the end of March, Vancouver's market had posted a 5.4 per cent year-over-year average price increase, but with the cost of a typical single family house reaching $1.36 million, many younger buyers have found themselves priced out of the market. This low affordability has prompted some innovative solutions, with 400-square-foot studios now selling in the $150,000 price range, offering first time buyers a toe-hold into the market. These entry-level condos have even led to the development of entire new lines of multipurpose furniture designed specifically for efficient spaces.
Many potential homebuyers in Alberta have been be frustrated by low inventory. This is particularly true in Calgary where a typical home spent less than 35 days on the market. Those looking to rent while waiting for the Calgary housing market to balance out have also struggled with a rental vacancy rate of one per cent. In a situation similar to Toronto, desirable rental properties in Calgary's core are now attracting multiple offers, creating additional frustrations for those waiting to buy.
Across the Prairies, Saskatchewan showed strong housing market activity throughout the first quarter. At an average price of $354,084, year-over-year housing prices were up five per cent in Saskatoon as of the end of March. Regina also posted gains, where the average sale price in the city rose 4.8 per cent to $328,781 over the same period. In Winnipeg arctic temperatures put a chill on the market with sales down over the first two months of the year. However, after a dozen years of as a seller's market, Winnipeg is expected to be more balanced in 2014 as new buyers are to drive sales of condos and detached homes.
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