Saskatoon real estate week in review: January 24-28, 2011

Following a two week slide, new listings on the Saskatoon multiple listing service® took an upward turn as agents brought 103 single-family homes and condominiums to the market to record a gain of five compared to the previous week, but up forty-five units when compared against the same week last year.

Units sales also headed higher with a total of fifty-six homes changing status from for sale to sold, eight more than last week, but down from the same week a year earlier when sixty-three Saskatoon homes were firmly sold.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The total number of Saskatoon real estate listings on the MLS® system gained ground again moving to 966 units and threatening to break the one thousand unit mark by the close of next week. The total number of active listings grew by thirty-nine properties over the course of the week to finish 232 units, or thirty-two percent higher than the levels recorded at the same point in 2010. Today there are 527 single-family dwellings (houses) and 389 condominiums bearing a for sale sign. That’s a gain of twenty-six houses and thirteen condos when compared against the previous week. On a year-over-year basis, single-family homes are up twenty-eight percent while active condo listings have grown by thirty-eight percent in a year.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Listing cancellations and withdrawal activity was quiet at just thirteen homes. Only five of those properties were returned to the system for another go on the same day they were removed. Twenty-six Saskatoon sellers adjusted their asking price with all but one headed lower.

The median price of a Saskatoon home slipped seven thousand dollars on a week-over-week basis but the average fell much harder losing close to twenty-four thousand dollars compared to the previous week. The six-week average slid lower, dropping more than six thousand dollars from last week to finish at $304,422 almost thirty thousand dollars higher than it was at this time last year. The four-week median also fell and finished the week at $294,750, down over three thousand dollars from last week, but up nearly thirty-six thousand dollars from levels seen a year ago.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Overbid activity was tempered with just two sellers closing a deal above the asking price by an average of $5,300. Five sellers found a buyer willing to pay the entire asking price. Forty-nine of fifty-six deals closed at a price that was below the asking price by an average of $8,751 or about three percent below asking.

Full disclosure: This week’s sales showed an area five bi-level listed at $309,900 that sold for $389,900. I made unsuccessful efforts to reach the sellers agent and ultimately guessed that this sale report was incorrectly recorded. I counted it as an “at list” sale and backed the $80,000 overbid out of the averages for area five and the collective numbers for Saskatoon. Should I find that someone actually paid a twenty-five percent premium for this home I will let you know in the comment string below.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Hard to buy a home – Star Phoenix
Saskatoon homes less affordable than Calgary and Edmonton – Star Phoenix
New cracks appear in U.S. housing – Globe and Mail
Home less affordable across Canada: Study – Global News Saskatoon
U.S. home prices bouncing around bottom: economist – National Post
Q&A: Housing market trends for 2011 – Globe and Mail
Canadian house prices fall for third straight month – Financial Post
U.S. 2010 new homes sales lowest in 47 years – Globe and Mail
Migration at 20-year high – Financial Post
Saskatchewan’s average weekly incomes up – Global News Saskatoon

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

Saskatoon housing affordability shows slight year-over-year improvement: Demographia

Housing affordability in the Saskatoon area improved slightly for the second consecutive year, according to the 7th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey, but not enough to remove it from the ranks of the most “seriously unaffordable” places to buy a home. According the Demographia’s estimates, Saskatoon home buyers can expect to pay 4.3 times the median income for the area to purchase a home priced at the median. The median defines the centre point of value at which half of all sales occur above and half occur below.  While Saskatoon saw its second improvement in as many years our current ranking of 4.3 leaves us amongst the most expensive Canadian markets to own a home and well above the national ranking of 3.4 which Demographia defines as just “moderately unaffordable.”

Click image for a larger view.

Most Canadian markets managed to record some improvements on a year-over-year basis. The greatest changes were seen in Calgary and Edmonton, both of which moved into, or significantly towards, the moderately unaffordable territory. Both markets shaved a half-year off of the median income multiplier that Demographia uses to measure affordability. Nationally, we saw an improvement in the median multiple of 0.3 from the survey released a year ago.

Once again, the major British Columbia markets win the prize for the largest income to price gap. In Vancouver, it’s estimated to take 9.5 times median income to own a home priced at the median for the city.

See the entire Demographia survey for 2011 and past reports for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006.

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: January 17-21, 2011

After coming back with a vengeance during the first week of 2011, new listing activity slowed again for the second week in a row as Saskatoon real estate agents brought just ninety-eight single-family home and condominium listings to the local MLS® system. The weekly totals mark a week-over-week decline of fifteen properties, and twenty-five fewer homes than were offered for sale during the same week last year.

MLS® sales activity in the house and condo categories continued to edge higher gaining six over the previous week to close at forty-eight, up three home sales from the same period last year.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Slightly stronger sales and weaker new listing activity didn’t stop the inventory of residential listings on the multiple listing service® from moving higher for the third consecutive week. Total listings edged up twenty-two from last week to close at 927, or roughly twenty-three percent higher than it was at this time last year when 751 residential properties were available on the Saskatoon MLS® system. On a weekly basis, single-family home listings gained nine and reached 501 while condominium listings pushed higher by thirteen to 376. Last year at this time there were 416 single-family homes and 290 condos showing an active status on our MLS®.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Listing cancellations and withdrawals held steady at fifteen and only five of those were relisted on the same day that the previous MLS number was retired. Another twenty-seven Saskatoon home sellers adjusted their price hoping to attract a motivated buyer.

Strong sales activity in Saskatoon’s area one and very weak activity in areas 3 and 4 pushed the weekly median price for the week almost ten thousand dollars higher to $299,500. All three of our charted price measures headed in the same direction. The average selling price of a Saskatoon home grew by nearly sixteen thousand dollars to $313,565 on a week-over-week basis. The six-week median sale price edged up nearly eight thousand dollars from last week to $311,071 and finished more than thirty-four thousand dollars above the number recorded for the same period in 2010. The four-week median edged up three thousand dollars on the week to $298,000 to finish forty-one thousand dollars higher than it was at this time last year.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Once again, the Saskatoon real estate market saw just a small percentage of home sales with reported final sale prices above the list price. Two sellers managed an above list sale picking up an additional $3,650 on average, while forty-four of forty-eight transactions registered a final sale number below the asking price by an average of $9,834.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

New mortgage rules introduced this week are expected to encourage those seeking a thirty-five year amortization to move on a purchase before the changes that take effect on March 18 make that impossible. Finance minister Jim Flaherty’s ultimate objective is to remove “marginal buyers” from the market, reducing the number of home owners who may suffer financially in a higher interest rate environment when rates eventually rise. The other changes that came down with this package are targeted more at managing the home equity line of credit (HELOC) market. Effective March 18, home owners will be limited to withdrawing equity equaling up to eighty-five percent of the home’s market value. The current rules allow a withdrawal of up to ninety percent. Further, on April 18, CHMC will cease to offer mortgage insurance on HELOC’s.

Highlights from the news this week

Flaherty’s helping hand may delay Canada’s rate hikes – Bloomberg
Buying a home about to get tougher – Financial Post
Consumers maxed out, housing tapped out – Globe and Mail
First time home buyers hit again – Financial Post
Flaherty details new mortgage rules – Globe and Mail
Mortgage changes will bite – Financial Post
Debt worries trump home sales – Globe and Mail
New mortgage rules could price some out of the market – Financial Post
HELOC demand to stay strong – Financial Post
The multi-generational home makes a comeback – Globe and Mail
Paying down the house – 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

Art Gallery of Saskatchewan “rock solid” for River Landing

City manager Murray Totland says the proposed $50-million Art Gallery of Saskatchewan is now “rock solid” with all funding agreements between Saskatoon and the provincial and federal governments completed.  Announced two-years ago, the art gallery is still in the design stage but construction should begin as early as 2012. The gallery will be built next to the Persephone Theatre at River Landing in Saskatoon’s Central Business District.

As it opens, the Mendel Art Gallery will cease to operate at its City Park location where it has been since 1964. A wing within the new gallery will serve as a tribute to Saskatoon’s first gallery and the Mendel family whose generous financial contributions made it possible. A planning process for renewal of the Mendel site and Kinsmen Park is underway.

More from Global News

Visit our Saskatoon Neighbourhood Profiles pages to learn more about what’s going on in our city’s neighbourhoods.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Feds announce tighter mortgage rules to rein in record household debt

Speculation ended this morning as Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty announced the details on new changes to the country’s mortgage rules, some which will take effect as early as March 18. In a move expected to remove 20,000 of the most marginal prospective buyers from the housing market this year, the maximum amortization period for CMHC insured mortgages is being reduced to thirty years. It’s currently thirty-five years, having been reduced from forty years last April.

The new rules also impact upon homeowners who seem all too eager to cash out their equity to “buy boats and cars and big-screen TV’s,” Mr. Flaherty said as he announced that home equity loans will be capped at eighty-five percent of the home’s value, also on March 18. CMHC will discontinue its practice of insuring home equity loans and lines of credit a month later on April 18. Home equity lines of credit have grown by 170% in the last ten years, doubling the rate of growth seen in the mortgage market.

The moves were widely applauded by a number of bank leaders who have recently expressed concern about the rapid expansion of household debt and called upon the government to tighten lending rules. Frank Techar, president of commercial and personal banking for the Bank of Montreal called the actions “prudent, measured, responsible and timely.”

The Bank of Canada has been reluctant to raise interest rates from record low territory as the Canadian economy continues to perform sluggishly. Analysts at Scotia Capital suggest that tightening of lending rules is the more effective way of curbing debt without risking a further slowing of overall economic growth.

Predicting that the rule changes will moderate housing demand across the country, Flaherty announced that the minimum down payment required for a CMHC insured mortgage will remain at 5%. “We do not want to create any shock in the market or any sort of dramatic pressure. We want to be moderate,” Flaherty told reporters at the early morning briefing.

New mortgage rules could price some out of the market – Financial Post
Debt worries trump home sales – Globe and Mail
Buying a home about to get tougher – Financial Post
Flaherty details new mortgage rules – Globe and Mail

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