Saskatoon real estate week in review: October 25-29 2010

Saskatoon real estate agents reported firm sales on fifty-six houses and condominiums this week, thirteen fewer than were reported to the multiple listing service during the previous week and well below the eighty-three homes that sold during the same week last year. As the week drew to a close, so did the month of October. With the last opportunity to report MLS sales for October of 2010 behind us, the month closed with a total of 262 residential sales, fifteen percent below last year’s total of 309 units, but just slightly below the five-year average for October of 269 properties.

New listings remained steady at eighty-five on a week-over-week basis but took a good jump when compared against the same period in 2009 when just sixty-three sellers offered their Saskatoon homes for sale.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The inventory of active residential MLS listings continued to slide for a seventh consecutive week as the total number of listings slipped fifteen to 1210 but remained stubbornly higher than last year at this time when just 943 properties were for sale. As of today, there are 734 single-family homes and 414 condominiums showing an active status on the Saskatoon MLS system. Last week at this time those numbers sat at 739 and 421 respectively. Compare those stats to 552 and 321 at the same point in 2009. In the next two days, sixty-one MLS listings are due to expire. I expect a small handful of those will be extended before the deadline hits but total inventory numbers should fall well below 1200 before business at the real estate board resumes on Monday morning.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Cancelled and withdrawn listings fell off again to just thirty-three listings. Eighteen of those re-entered the system disguised as a “new listing,” most at a lower price. An additional forty-eight price adjustments were processed on houses and condos this week.

While this week’s sales included a broad range of prices and a median sale price well towards the lower end of the range in recent months ($277,250), a couple of high-end sales worth more than $1.6 million dollars combined pushed the average selling price of a Saskatoon home higher again to $305,451. The six-week average price managed to move in a downward direction for the fifth week in a row to settle lower by just six hundred dollars compared to last week, and twenty-five thousand dollars higher than it was at the close of the same week last year. The four-week median price also fell lower losing nine thousand dollars on the week to settle at $281,000, recording a gain of seventeen thousand dollars on the same week in 2009.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

While there was four overbid sales reported this week, three of them were new homes that likely included some additional improvements to bring the price up by an average of $14,350. Three sellers managed a deal at their full asking price while forty-nine of fifty-six home buyers negotiated a below list price with an average discount of $10,501 or 3.4%.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Keeping a wary eye on the housing market – BNN
Global house prices: Floor to ceiling – The Economist
CREA members ratify deal to reshape home selling – Financial Post
Realtors ratify deal to give consumers wider choice of services – Globe and Mail
The missing pieces in banks’ real estate math – Globe and Mail
Morning Market – CREA Competition Agreement – BNN
Study says Canadian house prices overvalued by 23.9% – Globe and Mail
U.S. housing market shows signs of life – Financial Post
Home sellers get choice as CREA deal is sealed – National Post
Carney stays positive about housing – Globe and Mail
Lake Placid deadline looms – Will the bell finally toll? – Sean Shaw’s Municipal Matters
Home prices up 10% a year in August: Teranet – Globe and Mail
CREA critics ante up with discount brokerage – Financial Post
Boomers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to head south for retirement: TD – CNW
New fight over MLS may be on Horizon – Globe and Mail
U.S. housing a threat to Canada Flaherty warns – Financial Post
Deadline nears for Lake Placid – Star Phoenix
Lake Placid timeline: David Hutton’s City Hall Notebook – Star Phoenix

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

CREA members approve consent agreement negotiated with Competition Bureau

This morning, representatives from nearly 100 member real estate boards across Canada voted to ratify a consent agreement negotiated with Canada’s Competition Commissioner at a general assembly meeting of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) in St. John’s, NL.

Previously approved by CREA’s board of directors, subject to ratification of the national real estate association’s member real estate boards, the consent agreement makes it crystal clear that CREA and its member boards have no business dictating service levels for MLS® listings. Brokerages may opt to offer service levels that range from a “mere posting” where the brokerage’s responsibility would be limited to data verification and entry in the MLS® system, to a full slate of additional services which include showing the property, marketing and negotiation of purchase contracts.

CREA has always maintained that their MLS® rules do not prohibit brokers from negotiating limited service agreements with property sellers. One MLS® rule that did exist when the investigation began prohibited “mere postings.” The association has always maintained that the intention of this rule was only to keep members responsible for the accuracy of MLS® data in order to maintain the integrity of the MLS®, and that all other services were negotiable. In their initial response to the Bureau’s allegation that CREA’s rules were developed to prevent limited service models, CREA cited several examples of brokerages that were offering limited services, including MLS® listings for under $200.

Precise details of the agreement have been kept under wraps on the understanding that litigation before a Competition Tribunal scheduled for April of 2011 would proceed if the CREA membership voted against the ratification of the agreement. A full copy of the agreement which is immediately effective, and in effect for ten years, will be available on the Competition Bureau website as soon as it is registered with the Tribunal.

Memorandums released by CREA and member boards after the agreement was struck have not provided a great detail of detail, except for a few points of clarification in answer to erroneous news reports. In those memos, CREA has made the following points:

  • The agreement would not allow public access to MLS® systems. Sellers wishing to utilize the MLS® would still need to access it through a REALTOR®.
  • The agreement would not require brokerages to adopt limited service models.
  • That an offer of compensation to buyer’s agents would be required for inclusion of a property on an MLS® system.
  • That real estate brokerages would continue to be responsible for the accuracy of the data entered into an MLS® system.

In a memo to the membership of the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® emailed shortly after the vote, executive officer Harry Janzen had this to say about the impact of this agreement on the Saskatoon real estate industry and consumers who utilize services offered by members.

The Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® has always been a progressive association in its delivery of services to its members and in turn, the consumer. In the mid 1980s Saskatoon saw the first of what was then viewed as an alternative business model.

Since that time, several brokers have chosen to offer services that assist sellers who prefer less than full service in the marketing of their property. The REALTOR® community in Saskatoon and area will continue to offer marketing services that philosophically align with their belief on how to best serve today’s consumer.

Consumers need to be aware that regardless of the service level they choose to receive from a REALTOR®, the REALTOR® must still comply with provincial law and the industry’s regulatory body the Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission. Two examples of Saskatchewan requirements are: An agency relationship must exist between the REALTOR® and the Seller based on the services chosen. Another example is REALTORS® are still responsible to verify the accuracy of MLS® data to ensure association MLS® system data integrity.

Given Saskatoon’s experience and history with alternative business models, approval of the consent agreement simply means business as usual for both REALTORS® and consumers.

Only time will tell the true impact of this agreement, but one thing is for sure; this REALTOR® is happy to see the end of this ugly battle, regardless of where it goes. I believe in free markets and competition. Availability of the broadest possible range of services is good for consumers and for real estate practitioners alike.

CREA President Georges Pahud comments on the agreement here.
Final agreement paves way for more competition in Canada’s real estate market: Competition Bureau
Read also: Canada’s Competition Bureau concludes CREA’s rules are anti-competitive
Read also: MLS rules and CREA headed for Competition Tribunal

Update: A copy of the consent agreement between CREA and the Bureau is 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

Saskatoon real estate week in review: October 18-22 2010

Following a short week in which Saskatoon real estate sales fell to their lowest point since February the market bounced back as agents reported sixty-nine firm house and condominium sales to the Saskatoon MLS, a gain of nineteen compared to last week and three more than were reported during the same week last year.

New listings moved in the same direction with eighty-five Saskatoon homes offered up for sale, ahead of the previous week by eight, and up on the same period in 2009 by thirteen.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The total inventory of residential listing offered for sale on the Saskatoon multiple listing service continued to trend lower for the fifth consecutive week dropping twenty-one units to close the week at 1225, still well up from 996 at the close of the same week last year. This morning’s inventory totals include 739 single-family homes and 421 condominiums, up from 583 and 348 respectively when compared to active listing inventories at this point in 2009. It does seem nearly certain that we’ve finally hit the point where inventory is likely to trend lower through the balance of the year as it pretty much always does, sooner or later. At this point, sales and listings appear to be experiencing a seasonal weakening at a nearly equal pace. Based on October’s sales to date, total months of available inventory remains steady at 4.3, just where it was at the end of September.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Cancelled and withdrawn listings moved sharply higher this week from twenty-nine to forty-six homes. Twenty-four of those found their way back to the system as a new listing, most at a lower price. An additional fifty-four listings showed a price adjustment this week.

While more than ten percent of last week’s sales came in with a price above the $500K mark, this week we see just one sale above that number. Fairly strong activity in less expensive area 4 also helped to push the weekly median sale price lower by twenty-one thousand dollars to $278,400. Meanwhile, the average selling price of a Saskatoon home saw a serious downward adjustment falling by forty-four thousand dollars from last week to $277,278. The six-week average sale price slid about sixty-five hundred on a week-over-week basis to $302,196 to maintain a gain of roughly $22K on the same week last year. The four-week median bucked the weekly trend and gained four thousand dollars on the previous week to close at $290,000 claiming a gain of $20,000 over the same week in 2009.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Overbids pretty much slipped off the charts again. There was one sale that was reported with a sale price that exceeded list but it was a condo, under construction, so it most likely had some spec adjustments that pushed the price up the extra $10,750. Three sellers managed a deal at their full asking price. Sixty-five of sixty-nine of the Saskatoon homes that sold this week went for less than the asking price by an average of $10,797 or about 3.7 percent below list.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Low rates bail out housing – Financial Post
Competition Bureau vs. CREA, Round 3 – Money Sense
Real estate agents left in dark over deal – Globeadvisor.com
Housing buy/rent ratio shows real estate is vulnerable – Globe and Mail
Buy/rent ratio no cause for concern – Globe and Mail
Average house prices show return to normalcy: Royal LePage – CTV News
Sales numbers point to widening affordability gap – Globe and Mail
Canadian house prices record normal year-over-year growth: Royal LePage – CNW
Is your house key to your retirement plan – Globe and Mail
Saskatoon house prices level off after peaking in first half of 2010 – Canadian Business
Canadian debt trap deepens – Financial Post
Home prices level: Realtor – Star Phoenix
Housing prices and personal debt over the years – Globe and Mail
Bank rate likely ‘on hold for some time’ – Financial Post

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