Just how big is the Canadian housing bubble?

Estimates of Canadian housing over valuations by CIBCYou’ve no doubt heard a lot about a Canadian housing bubble. The national media has featured stories on it every week for months. Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind is, “Just how overvalued are Canadian homes?”

CIBC economists throw out some pretty precise figures in their “Economic Insights” report released today titled, “Ottawa Should Stay the Course” suggesting that growth in the Canadian economy will fall fairly flat through 2011 and that now is not the time for the federal government to be making major monetary policy changes.

According to CIBC, the typical Canadian home is 11.8% overvalued. British Columbia is the worst off overshooting fair market values by 16.8%. Atlantic Canada is the least overvalued with prices that are out of their fair value range by just 5.9%. Saskatchewan sits just below the national average with housing prices that are 11.3% above fair market value.

Who knew?

Read the entire CIBC report here.

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.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS listings represented by all real estate brands, presented with more detail than you’ll find anywhere else. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Housing affordability for Canadians erodes further despite downturn: RBC

Canadians from coast to coast saw a higher percentage of their income going towards housing costs in the second quarter of 2010, largely driven by an increase in house prices and mortgage interest rates when compared against the first quarter. This marks the fourth consecutive time that RBC’s “Housing Affordability Measure” rose. According to the Housing Trends and Affordability report released by RBC Economics this morning, the increases have managed to consume roughly half of the improvements experienced in late 2008 and early 2009 when house prices in most areas of Canada cooled significantly.

The deterioration in affordability was seen across the country with the worst of it experienced in Ontario and British Columbia with the remaining provinces seeing “minor erosion.” Only Saskatchewan and Manitoba experienced some improvements, though they were limited to townhomes in the former and condominiums in the latter.

In Saskatchewan

“While home resale activity in Saskatchewan has been on a declining trend in recent months, home prices have held up to a large extent. In the second quarter, prices either appreciated moderately or edged lower just marginally, depending on the housing type. With mortgage rates rising during the quarter, affordability generally eroded some more in the province. RBC Housing Affordability Measures moved up between 0.6 and 1.5 percentage points (townhouses bucked the trend, edging lower by 0.1 percentage points). These increases pushed levels further above long-term averages, thereby indicating that some tensions may be building in the provincial market. Nonetheless, we expect that a strong rebound in the provincial economy this year and next will likely help ease such tensions.”

Read the entire report here.

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.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon real estate week in review: September 20-24 2010

Saskatoon real estate sale numbers for the week came in at their highest point in the last month with seventy-four houses and condominiums reported firmly sold through the local MLS system. That’s a gain of twelve units when compared with last week and it marks another year-over-year gain. During the same week last year sixty-seven homes traded.

New listings slid lower for the third consecutive week as just ninety-seven properties were introduced on the multiple listing service, a drop of eleven from last week, and down the same number when compared with the same week in 2009.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The inventory of active real estate listings continued to maintain a near straight line finishing the week at 1358 units, down just four from last week and up from the 1088 Saskatoon homes that were available at this time last year. This morning, there are 812 single-family homes for sale in Saskatoon and a selection of 472 condominiums, up from 633 and 370 respectively a year ago.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Twenty-one of thirty cancelled or withdrawn listings came back for another go at the market this week. Eighty-one prospective home sellers adjusted their asking price over the course of the week.

Once again, the lower end of the market showed some promise with a higher percentage of overall sales. The average selling price of a Saskatoon home slid lower by more than sixteen thousand dollars to $292,541 to mark its first finish below 300K since mid-August. The six-week average still managed to inch up gaining nearly four thousand dollars on the week and reaching $312,375 to close nearly thirty thousand dollars higher than it was during the same one week period in 2009.  The four-week median retreated slightly and dropped about one thousand dollars from last week to $289,950, a gain of roughly seventeen thousand dollars over last year.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Just two Saskatoon home sellers reported a sale price above the asking price, averaging a surplus of just $225. Eleven sellers got their full asking price while sixty-one of seventy-four sellers gave up an average of $10,589 to close a deal.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Don’t listen to doomsayers on housing – Star
Canadians like moving house, survey reveals – Financial Post
Bubble or not, Canadian markets in for rude awakening – Globe and Mail
Commercial real estate comeback – Globe and Mail

A map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate areas is here.
An overview of data collection and calculation practices for our statistical reports is here.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS listings from all real estate brands with the most detail and information available anywhere. Check it out here.

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.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Please welcome Mike Derbowka, legal contributor to the TeamFisher blog

I’m pleased to tell you that the TeamFisher blog has scored a major home run with Michael Derbowka’s agreement to author the occasional post for us.

As a specialist in real estate law, Mike understands the ins and outs of the real estate transaction. His writing and practical insights will be a great resource for Saskatoon home buyers and sellers who frequent our blog.

Born and raised in Prince Albert, Mike earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Sociology through the University of Saskatchewan in 2000. He later graduated from the College of Law and joined Cuelenaere and Company in 2006 after articling with them. In early 2010, Mike became a partner at the firm. In addition to real estate, Mike’s areas of expertise include wills and estates and corporations.

I look forward to Mike’s contributions. Please join me in welcoming him.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Why isn’t my home selling and what needs to change to get this job done?

Homes can be sold under almost any market conditions but when demand is low and supply is high things get tougher for home sellers. As I write this article, the active inventory of residential MLS listings in Saskatoon sits at 1,364 properties. Based on five-year averages, buyers can expect to see roughly 488 new MLS listings come to the market in the next thirty days. Looking to the same measure of historical data, about 270 Saskatoon homes will sell during that time. No matter how you slice it, the vast majority of the homes that are currently offered for sale will still be for sale a month from now.

So, what is a quick sale is vital for you? What if you don’t have time to wait it out? What can realistically be done to increase your odds of selling over the next thirty days? Frankly, there are just a few things that you and your agent can actually control but those things are all important factors in capturing a buyer’s interest and closing a sale. The three areas where you and your agent have full control are presentation, promotion and price.

Presentation Part 1

In a crowded real estate market homes that don’t show well, or those that are in poor repair are a very tough sell. It’s just too easy for a buyer to pass. They have every bit of confidence that something better will come available soon. Unless your home has some unique quality for which there is a reasonable level of demand you must be prepared to put in some elbow grease, or spend a few bucks to properly prepare it for sale. Alternatively, you can make up for those shortcomings with a lower price. You’ll likely need to price the home so the buyer can see a clear net gain of equity as a result of doing the work. Here’s what the math needs to look like to interest buyers in most of these cases – Purchase price + cost of repairs = a clearly below market price.

Even homes that are in good repair can benefit from some basic pre-sale preparation and some staging. Improving the condition of your home is one way of adding value to make your offering more attractive to prospective buyers.

Our home preparation list and our preparing for a successful photo shoot article both have some basic suggestions for improving presentation.

Presentation Part 2

The old cliché, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” couldn’t be more accurate.

Several studies indicate that almost all buyers begin their home search online. They use the Internet to qualify properties for onsite viewings and eliminate those that they don’t care to see. Today’s online tools allow buyers to quickly favorite or trash homes while they browse. Once your home is eliminated from the list it’s very difficult to recapture a buyers attention.

Web appeal is the new curb appeal. Your home must show as well online as it will when the buyer visits in person and fortunately for you; the bar is generally set fairly low. It’s not that difficult to look better than the competition. An average house, presented well, can have more web appeal than a great house that is presented poorly.

Presenting your home in the best possible light with professional quality images and attractive written descriptions will play an important role in your success or failure as a seller. Improving the online presentation of your home could increase inquiries and showings resulting in a faster sale.


Now that your home is looking good, you need to ensure that potential buyers can easily find it and the Internet is clearly where buyers for your home are looking. Some people feel that Canada’s leading real estate website, realtor.ca can adequately expose a property to the market. You definitely want to be there but here’s the big catch – according to HitWise, realtor.ca reaches fewer than one in three home buyers. Two of three choose to look at homes elsewhere. If realtor.ca forms the bulk of your online marketing effort you’re actually missing most of the market. Information on your home should to be available at a variety of home search websites to maximize the possibility that buyers will find your home. A robust web-marketing plan will include placement on a number of important websites and an active effort to draw buyers to your property including pay-per-click advertising campaigns and spotlights ads where available.

The wonderful thing about Internet marketing is the ability to track and count visits to your property’s online ads. You can know, without question, that people are seeing your home.

If preparation or promotion are lacking you may be able to make some adjustments in those areas and find success. If your home can be easily found by home buyers and it looks great online, it’s likely failing to sell for another reason.


No amount of preparation or promotion will sell a home that’s clearly priced above market value. If your home presents well and buyers are aware that it’s for sale you have just one option to bring about a faster sale – lower your price to make it more attractive. Generally speaking, the roughly 270 Saskatoon homes that do sell over the next thirty days will be those that appear to offer the best value, in the sole judgment of those who offer to buy them. Remember, buyers have what seems like an endless selection of homes and they’re not feeling much pressure to move quickly. They must see good value to be drawn into a negotiation on almost any home.

Best wishes for a speedy sale!

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.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate