An early spring for Saskatoon housing in March 2019: SRAR

After a fairly strong February, the city of Saskatoon’s March housing market had spring in its step as both new listings and sales rose over last year, by five and 11 per cent respectively.

The Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® (SRAR) reported 702 listings were posted to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), up from 668 last March, but significantly down from 850 in 2017.

Sales jumped 11 per cent to 258, up from 233 last year but down from 308 in March 2017.

At the same time, the average selling price dropped four per cent to $316,445, down from just over $328,000 a year earlier, partly due to a higher proportion of entry-level home sales below $400,000. There was also a significant decrease in the number of sales recorded between $400,000 and $450,000. Even so, the dollar volume of homes sold increased seven per cent to just over $81.6 million, up from $76.5 million a year earlier.

“We’re coming into the spring market, and the degradation of prices over the last three year has made it a little more attractive out there. People do get a little bit more optimistic in the spring,” said Jason Yochim, CEO of SRAR.

“Some of that optimism may have sprung from the federal government’s recent policy announcement regarding changes to home buyers’ plan, which provides a five per cent interest-free loan on existing homes, and 10 per cent on new homes, to first-time buyers. Our industry has been lobbying for changes such as this for a long time.”

The Saskatoon Region, which includes smaller communities in the Census Metropolitan Area, saw a five per cent increase in listings, to 1,084 (up from 1,034 in 2017) and a four per cent increase in monthly sales, to 359 (up from 345). Listings generally begin to trend upward as March, and spring, approach.

Excluding Saskatoon, regional listings were flat with last March and sales fell nine per cent to 77, down from 85. The selling price dropped 12 per cent to $275,000. In 2019 so far, Saskatoon and region listings, taken together, are down two per cent to 2,675, 1,736 of those in the city proper. Sales are up two per cent to 929, up from 909 in 2018, and dollar volume has fallen one per cent to $213 million, down from $215.5 million. Active listings sat at 3,184 at the end of March, down one per cent, with 1,611 of those in Saskatoon, down four per cent.

While the 2019 market has been kinder to home sellers than in the last three years, it remains important to price properties appropriately to present conditions, said Yochim. The sales to listings ratio was 37 per cent in March, which still signifies a buyers’ market.

“Home sellers, not to mention buyers, can benefit from the knowledge a REALTOR® brings to a housing transaction. REALTORS® know how to help a seller arrive at a realistic price, and they are also professionals who subscribe to a strict code of ethics. They can guide sellers, and buyers, through the process, and help them make the best decisions.”

OTHER REGIONS

The spring market has had a slower start in Prince Albert and region, where listings rose four percent to 128 (from 123 last March) and sales fell 10 per cent to 38, down from 42. Dollar volume was down 29 per cent to $6.7 million, from $9.5 million in the same month of 2018. However, the statistics tend to appear more dramatic to the smaller size of the market.

It was a similar story in The Battlefords region, where listings rose five per cent to 120 units, up from 114 a year ago, and sales fell three per cent to 32. However, that was a drop of just one unit from last year’s 33 sales. Dollar volume fell 37 per cent to $4.5 million from just over $7 million. The region did, however, see an increase in the average price of four per cent to $188,000. Dollar volume was down 22 per cent to $4.5 million.

“The market is considerably more challenged in smaller cities. Saskatoon hasn’t been affected as much on sales activity because of our diversified economy.”

Jason Yochim, CEO, SRAR

Listings drop while home sales rise in Saskatoon region, February 2019: SRAR

Despite the very cold temperatures in February, Saskatoon and region home sellers found a little warmth as new listings dropped 7% and sales rose 6%.

The Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® (SRAR) reported 731 homes were listed, down from 783 in the same month of last year, while sales rose to 296 from 280.

The dollar volume of homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) rose 4%, to $95.8 million from $92.4 million.

Year to date, listings dropped 7% to 1,591, sales were up 1% to 570, and the dollar volume was down a marginal 1% to $180.8 million.

Excluding the region, new Saskatoon listings were down 8.6% in February to 478 — the fewest since 2013 — while sales held steady with last year, rising by one to 211. Months of inventory dropped to 6.7 from 7.5 last February.

City homes listed to date in 2019, at 1,033, are at their lowest level in nine years. February statistics indicate a change in a market that has been declining for four years.

“Sales have stabilized somewhat, and inventory levels are coming down,” said Jason Yochim, CEO of SRAR (Norm’s note: The inventory of active residential listing available to Saskatoon home buyers is at its lowest point in four years for the end of February). “As an optimist, I believe and hope it will continue. However, people have to be confident that the economy is improving before committing to the purchase of a home.”

He noted that while some sectors of the economy, such as potash mining, are doing well, others are less robust. “It’s not that people aren’t working; they are. But they won’t upgrade unless they have confidence in their situations.”

The average price in Saskatoon also recovered slightly to $338,268, up 2.3% from last February. Yochim cautioned that average prices can be misleading because the basket of sales in any given month can be very different from another. For example, if two or three high-priced homes sell, that can significantly skew the average. A better gauge, said Yochim, is the Home Price Index (HPI), which tracks prices over time based on a benchmark determined 15 years ago. Saskatoon’s overall HPI, including apartment-style condos, was $282,600 last month, down 3% from last year. The most expensive category, two-storey single-family homes, was down 1% at $356,000.

Saskatoon remains a buyers’ market, with a sales-to-listing ratio of 44; but the ratio has risen from 34 in January, for a year-to-date ratio of 40. A ratio of 50 is a balanced market, while a ratio of 60 denotes a sellers’ market.

“Even in a buyers’ market, sellers can successfully sell their homes,” said Yochim. “The most important aspect to achieving a sale is pricing a specific property to match the current market conditions. This is where the assistance of a REALTOR® comes in. Not only do REALTORS® have the knowledge to help a seller arrive at a realistic price, but they are also professionals who subscribe to a strict code of ethics. They can guide sellers, and buyers, through the process, and help them make the best decisions.”

Jason Yochim, CEO, SRAR

Saskatoon home prices show annual declines in January 2019: SRAR

Average Saskatoon home sale prices were down 12 percent year-over-year in January to $302,412. By comparison, the average price in January of 2017 and 2018 was $341,260 and $344,720 respectively. The challenge with averages is that the numbers can be skewed in a given period and are therefore not a reliable reflection of pricing. For this reason, the Canadian Real Estate Association created the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) for major cities to give a more accurate reflection of pricing trends. The HPI establishes attributes for a handful of typical housing styles; Single Family, One Storey, Two Storey, Townhouse, Apartment and a composite of all five. It then establishes a base value to each with the starting point of 2005. From that starting point, changes in value are recorded over time to get a better sense of what is happening to pricing and where prices may be trending. For example, the MLS® HPI value for a typical single-family home in January of 2005 was $140,400. This value reached its peak in May of 2015 at $329,500. At the end of January 2019, this value is at $304,300, down from $307,300 last January. This indicates a less drastic decline in year-over-year values than the average price of a sold Saskatoon home would suggest.

The total MLS® dollar volume for sales in the Saskatoon Region for January was $84 million, down six percent from a year ago and comparable to 2017. In spite of this dollar volume decline, January home sales on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) in Saskatoon declined by only one percent in January to 199 transactions. The region surrounding Saskatoon had 60 MLS® sales in January, only five fewer than last January and 18 percent more than in January 2017.

Residential MLS® listing totals for January were the lowest in the past six years with 555 new listings introduced to the market, down ten percent from last January. For the market surrounding Saskatoon, the number of new MLS® listings was unchanged from a year ago with 216 units listed for sale. “New listings to the market are not always houses being introduced for the first time to the market,” comments Jason Yochim, CEO of the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® (SRAR). “Many new listings are homes that did not sell in the initial listing attempt and are relisted, often at a revised price.” The total number of active listings as at the end of last month was 1,450 compared with 1,529 last year. “It’s positive to see the overall number of active listings decline to prepare the way for prices to recover,” adds Yochim. “Some price ranges still have a good supply to choose from while others do not.

For further information, please contact:

Jason Yochim CAE, CRAE
Chief Executive Officer – Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®

Saskatoon home sales fall five percent in 2018: SRAR

December home sales through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) totalled 164 in Saskatoon, 20 percent fewer than were sold in December of 2017. The region surrounding Saskatoon had 43 MLS® sales in December of 2018, down just one from the same period last year. The total number of residential sales for 2018 in Saskatoon was 3,329, a five percent decline compared to the previous year. 2018 is the fourth straight year of declining Saskatoon home sales. By comparison, there were 4,417 MLS® homes that traded hands in 2014, a peak sales year for Saskatoon. There was no change in the total annual sales for the surrounding region with 986 residential MLS® transactions recorded.

The total dollar volume for MLS® residential sales in Saskatoon in December was $55.6 million, down 20 percent from December of 2017. The total dollar volume for the entire year reached $1.108 billion, down eight percent from 2017. The combined dollar volume for Saskatoon and region last year was down four percent for the year at $1.524 billion.

Residential MLS® listing totals for the year were also lower than previous years. 7,956 residential listings were recorded for Saskatoon in 2018. This is an 11 percent reduction from 2017’s total of 8,969. The five-year average for new listings in Saskatoon is 9,081 per year.

“Even though sales are down, having fewer new listings has helped,” comments Jason Yochim, CEO of the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® (SRAR). Active listings fell to 1,487 by the end of the year. This is consistent with the five-year average of 1,480 available properties and well below peak listing numbers seen in July of 2017 when there were 2,210 homes for sale in the city of Saskatoon. “Available properties will vary depending on the neighbourhood, price range and style,” cautions Yochim. “Some price ranges still have a good supply to choose from while others do not.”

When it comes to home price trends, the best indicator of what is happening with home prices is the MLS® Home Price Index. The Home Price Index establishes attributes for a typical single-family home with a base value in 2005. From that starting point, changes in value are recorded over time to get a better sense of where prices may be trending. The value for the typical single-family home when the index began in January of 2005 was $140,400. This value reached its peak in May of 2015 at $329,500. At the end of December, it had slipped to $307,000, down from $310,900 a month earlier. December’s number is virtually unchanged from a year ago, however, it had been trending downward since the middle of 2018.

For further information, please contact:

Jason Yochim CAE, CRAE
Chief Executive Officer – Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®

Saskatoon real estate listings continue to fall in October 2018: SRAR

The total number of new MLS® residential listings in Saskatoon this year reached 7,111 by the end of October. This represents a year-over-year decline of 12 percent. By this time last year, 8,065 properties had been listed for sale. The number of residential listings for Saskatoon and region is now at 10,929, down ten percent from last year. New listing numbers have seen year-over-year declines each month this year.

This decline in new listings has contributed to lower inventory levels in Saskatoon. At the end of October, there were a total of 1,808 homes for sale in Saskatoon and an additional 1,095 in the regional market surrounding the city. The five-year average for active listings in Saskatoon is 1,806. The ten-year average is 1,487.

“Since 2015, the Saskatoon market has experienced higher inventories of active listings. This puts downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on the sales to new listing ratio,” comments Jason Yochim, CEO of the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®.

The average price of a Saskatoon home was $332,000 at the end of October, down four percent in a year. It’s now lower than it was two years ago by $20,000. Although much focus in real estate is on the average price, this measure can be misleading and is easily skewed by shifts in popular price ranges.

A better indicator of what is happening with home prices is the Home Price Index (HPI). The HPI establishes attributes for “benchmark homes” of various types and tracks price changes for those homes since 2005. The price of a benchmark single-family home in January of 2005 was $140,400. This category reached its peak price in May of 2015 at $329,500. Currently, the benchmark price of a Saskatoon single-family home is $312,600. That’s up slightly from last month, and $1500 higher than it was a year ago. The benchmark price for a typical townhouse in Saskatoon was $222,900 at the close of October. Apartments closed the month at $180,100.

MLS® sales were at 285 for Saskatoon in October, unchanged from the same month last year, but down nine percent from October 2016. Year-to-date, the total number of residential sales on the MLS® system in Saskatoon was 2,964, down two percent from last year. For Saskatoon and region, the total number of sales was 4,074, a one percent decline from 2017.

“It’s encouraging to see home sales at a comparable level to last year in spite of economic challenges and the “stress test” changes to financing earlier this year,” comments Yochim.

Jason Yochim CAE, CRAE
Chief Executive Officer – Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®