Saskatoon real estate: Week in review (April 20-24 2009)

New listing activity of houses and condos picked up this week as Saskatoon real estate agents listed one hundred and thirty-two homes including eighty-one single-family detached houses and fifty-one condominiums on the multiple listing service. That number represents a gain of eighteen units over the previous week but falls far short of the two hundred and four properties offered for sale during the same week last year. Total active listing gained some traction finishing the week at 1,472 and picking up twenty-eight units over last week, thanks in part to a new downtown condo conversion offered for sale, which added twenty units to the database. This morning, there are eight hundred and eighty-eight single-family homes and four hundred and ninety-two condos displaying an “active listing” flag.

Saskatoon condominium and house sales continued to show some strength falling short of last week’s number by just three properties for a total of eighty-eight sales. Unit sales did close below the one hundred and seventeen units sold during the same week last year when the highest number of sales for any week during 2008 was recorded but still came in well above the average compared to recent weeks. Total unit sales for April (in the entire residential category) finished the week at two hundred and eighty-one, leaving little doubt that we’ll fall short of last April’s four hundred and eighteen units, but positioning the Saskatoon real estate market within a realistic striking distance of the five-year April average of three hundred and fifty-nine homes.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Saskattom MLS sales versus listings for the week of April 25, 2009

Saskatoon MLS sales versus listings for the week of April 25, 2009

Prices continued to strengthen marginally as the average sale price for the week moved up nearly $20K over the week before to $285,456. The weekly median grew far less but finished up $3,400 over last week. Three consecutive weeks of gains saw the six-week average up by just $1,600 for the week but finishing down nearly $27,000 from $301,000 on a year-over-year basis. The four-week median recovered the $3,500 that it lost last week to continue its sticky position in the $260,000 range. Still, that number is $26,450 below the number attained during the same week last year. Last week, the six-week average and the four-week median were down $30K and $35K respectively on a year-over-year basis.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Average and median MLS sale prices for Saskatoon homes for the week of April 25, 2009

Average and median MLS sale prices for Saskatoon homes for the week of April 25, 2009

The average underbid for the week grew to $12,029 from $10,376 last week, but higher prices caused the average discount, as a percentage of list price, to slip just slightly from 3.8% to 3.7%. The percentage of sellers making a deal within $5,000 of their asking price remained steady at thirty percent while the $5,001-$10,000 category fell to thirty-one percent from forty the week before. That entire nine point change found its way to the highest discount categories with the $15,001-$20,000 category growing from nine to fifteen percent and the discounts over $25K category swelling from two percent last week to seven percent this week.

I expect that we’ll continue to see fairly strong activity over the next few weeks. My colleague Lyndon Neher, who does most of the buyer representation for our team, has been run off of his feet over the past few weeks. We are working with nearly two-dozen active buyers and he’s been out with more than half of them this week alone. Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of them come from out of town locations as close as Wadena and Regina, and some are coming from farther away places like Calgary, Spokane, Minnesota, and believe it or not, New York. All of them are serious about buying. A few did that this week and the others will likely do it soon.

Pamela, our powerhouse assistant extraordinaire has arranged over 100 showing appointments over the course of the week and we’re hearing, “sorry, that one is conditionally sold” on a fairly regular basis. Most of the strength appears to be in single-family homes priced below $300K but there is a heightened level of activity across the various market segments. Condos are even showing one hundred and twelve firm sales over the past thirty days. That’s double the number sold in any of the last eight months, and the highest level of volume for any thirty-day period since April of last year.

Clearly, some agents are feeling strongly that the good times are about to roll and there’s a certain cockiness that’s already evident from a few camps. In some cases, offers that should be treated with a measure of respect are met with an arrogant scoff, or flat out rejected without any consideration at all. One offer, written yesterday, about five percent below the list price was repelled even though our buyer indicated that she was prepared to negotiate. I’m told that the seller’s agent actually said he hopes our buyer goes elsewhere. This in spite of the fact that the listing is longer than thirty days on the market, in a neighborhood with sixty-five listings above $300K and a mere seven sales in the same price range over the past month. We humans are funny beings with unbelievably short memories. We will find a home for our buyer. Hopefully this seller can find a buyer for their home.

See a Google map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate “areas” here
Data collection and calculation for our statistical reports

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon real estate: Week in review (April 13-17 2009)

It was one solid week in the Saskatoon real estate market as agents reported sales of ninety-one single-family detached houses and condos to the local MLS, and recorded the strongest number of unit sales since the week of June 9-13, not to mention the first year-over-year gain for unit sales in longer than I can remember. Firm sales increased by twenty-seven units compared to the previous week when sixty-four homes traded hands, and saw a year-over-year gain of twenty-one properties when compared to the seventy homes that hit the sold board during the same week last year.

New listings of Saskatoon houses and condominiums slowed to one hundred and fourteen units, down from one hundred and forty-nine last week and well below the one hundred and sixty-one homes which were listed on the Saskatoon MLS during the same week in 2008. Total active residential real estate listings saw a slight decline falling to 1,444 by the close of business Friday, down from 1,451 one week before. The current residential inventory offers 889 single-family detached homes and 30 semi-detached properties, 465 condominiums, 27 duplexes, 8 vacant lots and 8 mobile homes.

At the close of this week last year, total active listing sat at just 668 units so there’s little question that we have a huge head start on 2008. On the other hand, last April, inventory had started to expand at a rapid pace having already gained just shy of two hundred units month-to-date by this point. Over the following two weeks it climbed further to 844 residential units to start the month of May, up about eighty percent from the final week of March when total actives sat at just 470 units. This year, we see a net gain of just nine properties for the month of April. Is it possible that we could get through the month without a substantial gain?

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

On the pricing front, it was another decent week for home buyers as the average price of a Saskatoon home fell from $278,498 last week to just $266,054. The six-week average took a four thousand dollar bounce over the previous week to $272,642 as the lowest weekly average selling price for the year fell out of the front end of the six-week equation. Still, it remained down by just under $30,000 on a year-over-year basis. The four-week median selling price slid to $256,589 after three weeks of hanging very close to $260,000 but finished down a whopping $35,000 over the same week last year.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The average underbid slid to $10,376 from $13,141 last week to produce an average discount of 3.8% of the asking price, which is one of lowest percentages we’ve seen since I started crunching this stat. The percentage of offers accepted with a discount of $5,000 or less fell seven points to thirty percent while the $5,001-$10,000 range spiked higher moving from twenty six percent of sales to forty percent. Discounts of more than $25,000 lost some serious ground from last week when they accounted for sixteen percent of sales, amounting to just two percent this week, but the next highest discount categories picked up some steam making up twelve percent of sales compared to just two percent the week before.

See a Google map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate “areas” here
Data collection and calculation for our statistical reports

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Housing affordability trend turns on lower rates and higher incomes: RBC

Here are a few of the highlights from RBC’s recent Housing Trends and Affordability study released yesterday.

As we head into the all-important spring season, the ongoing cyclical correction will put the entire housing sector to the test. However, while the pain will likely persist for many homeowners and industry participants, there are encouraging signs on the affordability front in light of developments through the fourth quarter of 2008. The sharp deteriorating trend in RBC’s affordability measures from about 2004 to late 2007-early 2008 has reversed in the past year. At the national level, the RBC measures improved 2.3 to 3.5 percentage points between the final quarters of 2007 and 2008, with markets in Alberta and British Columbia showing more sizable repair (although this largely reflects the extent of the earlier impairment).

The improvement can be primarily credited to monetary policy during that period because lower mortgage rates account for the largest portion of the reversal in RBC’s measures in almost all major urban areas in Canada except for cities in Alberta. Rising family income also contributed positively across the country.

Only in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver was price a constructive factor in the year-over-year change – although price has played a wider beneficial role in recent more quarters. Higher utilities and property taxes have remained a modest undermining factor.

Going forward, low mortgage rates and persisting downward pressure on housing prices will continue to help repair affordability, but slowing income growth will act as a restraint.

Saskatchewan — Boom is over but no bust

The housing boom is officially over in Saskatchewan. Market activity has cooled considerably from the frenzied pace of 2006-early 2008 and prices have begun to come off the heights they reached during their spectacular run-up. However, the post-boom period so far has been a mostly orderly affair thanks to the province’s largely supportive economic and demographic fundamentals (Saskatchewan’s economy is the strongest in Canada and is forecast to remain so during 2009). These positive factors overshadow extremely poor affordability levels that have resulted from the spike in prices of recent years. While lower mortgage rates, income gains and, in more recent quarters, lower prices have helped improve affordability in the past year, RBC’s measures remain at worrisome levels compared to historical averages. This represents an element of risk if the province’s economic performance is weaker than expected.

Read to entire report here.

Good news, bad news for home buyers: Star Phoenix

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon real estate: Week in review (April 6-9 2009)

Saskatoon real estate agents reported sixty-four firm sales of detached houses and condominiums to the Saskatoon MLS this week. While down by twenty-two units compared to the same week last year, sales were lower by just ten units compared to last week and were certainly above the average for recent weeks. Not too bad, considering that it was a short week with just four full days of MLS service.

The short week didn’t prevent agents and sellers from finding time to list Saskatoon homes for sale as one hundred and forty nine properties in the house and condo categories were offered for sale. Listings for the week were up nine units compared to last week but continued to lag well behind on a year-over-year basis. This same week in 2008 saw 200 new house and condo listings. Total active residential real estate listings managed to push higher again closing the week at 1,451 units, up fifty-two over last week when they sat just below the 1,400 mark, and sharply higher than the 619 properties which were sale during the same week last year. As of this morning, there are 890 houses and 472 condos for sale within the city of Saskatoon.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Saskatoon home prices remained fairly level compared to recent weeks but continued to lose ground using year-over-year comparisons. Again, this was a period of sharp and steady increases through 2008 while the current trend over that same period this year is, at the very best, holding the line. The average selling price for the week crept up just about five thousand dollars over last week to finish at $278,498. The six-week average gained approximately seventeen hundred dollars over last week, closing at  $268,726; nearly twenty-eight thousand dollars lower than the number reached for the same week last year. The four-week median held steady compared to last week at $260,000 but fell further on a year-over-year basis to finish $31,750, or eleven percent, below last year’s number.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The average underbid recorded this week increased from $12,180 to $13,141 and amounted to an average discount of 4.5% of the asking price, up from 4.3% last week. The lower price categories on the underbid chart look a lot like a typical week with about sixty-three percent of Saskatoon home sellers accepting an offer within ten thousand dollars of the asking price. There are some big differences in the upper end price categories though as the $10,001-$15,000 category increased from fourteen percent last week to nineteen percent, the over $25,000 expanded in a big way from four percent to sixteen percent, while the $15,001-$20,000 category disappeared from the chart and the $20,001-$25,000 represented just two percent of sales compared to eight percent a week earlier.

See a Google map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate “areas” here
Data collection and calculation for our statistical reports

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Overpriced and Overbuilt: Canadian Housing Market Returns to Fundamentals: TD

Released yesterday by TD Economics, this report on Canadian housing.

Looking back on the boom in Canadian home building from 2002 to 2008, it is now clear that unsustainable price increases drove unsustainable levels of building. This overbuilding will weigh on markets over at least the next three years. Even as Canada recovers from the cyclical downtown, house prices will only rebound sluggishly and new residential construction will remain depressed, owing to this structural weakness. While newly built houses were being rapidly purchased by new homeowners during the housing boom, our view is that house prices exceeded the value of housing that was justified by fundamentals by approximately 9% nationwide during 2004-2008…particularly on the Canadian prairies.

Overpriced and Overbuilt: Canadian Housing Market Returns to Fundamentals: TD

Thank you to Crikey for the heads up.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate