Housing affordability in Saskatoon shows modest year-over-year improvement

I can’t imagine that it would come as much of a surprise to anyone that the cost of home ownership in Saskatoon has skyrocketed in recent years. According to the recently released “6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey” owning a Saskatoon home priced at the median in Q3/2009 would have cost about 4.4 times the median household income, a sharp increase from 2.6 times median income we enjoyed in Q3/2006. Saskatoon saw one of the steepest declines in affordability between 2006 and 2008 placing us among the ranks of the “seriously unaffordable,” according to Demographia’s ranking system. On the brighter side, our city saw some small improvements from Q3/2008 when 4.6 years of income was required to buy that home.

The following chart shows the changes in affordability levels in some of Canada’s most active real estate markets over the past five surveys. Click the image for a larger view.

I was a bit surprised to see that affordability at a national level really hasn’t changed significantly in the past five years. Canada’s “median multiple” comes in at 3.7 years, up from the lows of 3.1 in Q3/2007 but just slightly higher than the 3.6 years in Q3/2005.

Vancouver “wins the gold medal” as the most severely unaffordable housing market in the world requiring 9.3 times to median household income, an increase of almost a year in just twelve months time.

See the entire Demographia survey for 2010 and past reports for 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.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

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

Q4 house prices in Saskatoon show increases over last year: Royal LePage

Saskatoon’s real estate markets saw solid improvements in the final quarter of 2009 across housing types, according to the latest Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast and House Price Survey.

In Saskatoon, standard condominiums sold for an average of $217,000, up 5.9 per cent from the same period last year. Detached bungalows sold for an average of $310,500, up 3.5 per cent year-over-year, and average standard two-storey home prices increased by 3.0 per cent year-over-year to $338,750.

“At this time last year, Saskatoon’s real estate was hitting the bottom of the market,” said Norm Fisher, Sales Manager for Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate. “Resale activity is up across the board, and higher house prices are supported by lower inventory and increased demand, especially for entry level properties.”

“Condos are big movers. In 2009, interest rates went down and entry level homes came into high demand. Condominiums less than 1200 square feet are up dramatically in terms of unit sales in the last half of 2009,” added Fisher.


Canada’s residential real estate market is forecast to remain unusually strong through the first half of 2010 as economic conditions across the country improve and the stimulus impact of low interest rates continues to stoke demand, according to today’s Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast and House Price Survey.

“The Canadian real estate market enters 2010 with considerable momentum from an unusually strong finish to the previous year,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive, Royal LePage Real Estate Services. “The stimulus effect of low borrowing costs has contributed to a sharp rise in demand that has driven activity levels to new highs. This demand, coupled with a typical seasonal under supply of homes for sale, should cause home prices to continue to appreciate significantly during the early months of the year. Improving supply as the year unfolds and easing demand as the cost of home ownership rises should moderate home price increases in the second half of 2010.”

Regions that saw the strongest declines during the recession are now showing marked gains. Those regions include Toronto and the Lower Mainland, B.C.. Vancouver in particular experienced a robust quarter, with home prices rising across all housing types surveyed.

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.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

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 still indicative of a buyer’s market: CMHC

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Fall Housing Market Outlook for the Saskatoon area is calling for a 2.7 percent price reduction in the average resale price of a Saskatoon home in 2009, followed by a more marginal gain of 2.1 percent in 2010.

“With sales on the rise and listings trending down, the sales-to-active listings ratio is trending up. The seasonally adjusted ratio has risen on a monthly basis for six consecutive months. Although the ratio is rising, the market characteristic is still indicative of a buyer’s market. Increasing sales and falling listings will result in a continuing trend toward a balanced market in the coming months.”

A summary of CMHC’s forecasts for 2009 and 2010 follows.

Read the full report for Saskatoon here.
Read CMHC’s national housing 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.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

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 house prices stabilize but down 5% year-over-year: Royal LePage

Saskatoon, SK, October 8, 2009 – The Royal LePage House Price Survey released today showed the average year-over-year price of homes in Saskatoon is down five per cent over last year. However, a more balanced market has put an end to 13 months of consecutive price declines.

“Since bottoming out in April 2009, prices have stabilized,” says Norm Fisher, Sales Manager for Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate Ltd. “Average buyer discounts in Q3 ranged from 3.5 to 4.5 per cent, showing buyers and sellers are making reasonable negotiations.”

Inventory is at 58 per cent of last year’s levels so homes are moving quickly. “Unit sales are through the roof,” Fisher says. “We’re hitting near record unit sales for most housing types. Overall unit sales in Q3 were up nearly 50 per cent over the same period last year.” Lower priced condos are moving faster than in Q2, but unit sales for condos in the $300,000 to $350,000 range are down year-over-year.

Although some single family homes priced below $350,000 are generating multiple offers, buyers are typically cautious. “The current Saskatoon market isn’t like the boom period of 2007,” he says. “We had a rally in the first quarter of 2008, then the market flattened out.”

Selling for an average of $291,000 in Q3, west side detached bungalows are the only housing type that showed a year-over-year price increase. Overall, lower priced homes have depreciated less than more expensive homes.

Overall Canada’s housing market appears to be on the road to recovery, but despite the strength of the market in the third quarter, giving the appearance of a surge in real estate activity, Royal LePage cautioned that sales are actually lagging approximately one month behind the typical seasonal pattern in year-to-date analysis.

“The economic recession interrupted the flow of the real estate cycle but it is essentially back on track,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer, Royal LePage Real Estate Services. “There is the illusion of a boom in the market, but in fact what we are experiencing is the end of a normal, short-term correction. Once housing supply returns to normal levels, we believe the economy will support low pricing growth into 2010.”

Click the image for a larger view.

Royal LePage House Price Survey chart for Canada

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.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

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

Saskatchewan shows considerable housing affordability improvement: RBC

RBC Economics just released their fall Housing Trends and Affordability study that shows house prices having returned to “pre-boom” levels nationally with Saskatchewan showing considerable affordability improvements, but remaining above long-term historical averages. At the same time, the graph on page eight of the report suggests that affordability improvements may level off as Saskatoon seems to be trending back towards “seller’s market” territory.

Housing affordability improved in Canada for the fifth consecutive quarter during the second quarter…At the national level, affordability has now been restored to pre-housing boom levels (that is, those prevailing in late 2005-early 2006)… However, this restorative phase of the affordability cycle is likely running out of steam. The two major contributors to the significant improvement during the past year or so — the decline in mortgage rates and the drift down in prices — appear to have reached turning points.

Homeownership continued to become more accessible in Saskatchewan in the second quarter with RBC’s affordability measures falling between 0.4 and 1.4 percentage points. The measures have retreated considerably since their peaks early last year. However, they are still some distance above long-term averages, although these averages might have been depressed by previously unfavourable migration flows that have since been reversed. Certainly, the current levels of affordability do not appear to have been an obstacle to buyers taking the plunge in recent months. Sales of existing homes in the province have rebounded smartly, up by more than 50% since their low in March. If sustained, this will eventually heat up property prices, which are still trending modestly, lower.

This graph shows the recent affordability trend for the four Saskatoon housing types that RBC tracks and reports on, in comparison to the historical norm for the area. The figures shown on the graph represent the “proportion of median pre-tax household income required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes and utilities” on the various housing types. So, of course, the lower the figure, the more affordable the homes are.

Saskatoon housing affordability trend compared to long-term historical norm

Saskatoon housing affordability trend compared to long-term historical norm.

Read the full RBC report here.

Thanks for the heads up to my friend Larry Yatkowsky who runs Yatter Matters where he blogs about the Vancouver real estate market.

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.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

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.