CALGARY — Rising population numbers drove Calgary housing sales higher and brought average prices within a hair of the record set in 2007, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board.

On Wednesday it announced that 15 per cent more residential real estate sales were completed in the city of Calgary in 2012 than in 2011 and that average prices were up five per cent.

“Calgary’s housing market has finally started to recover,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist, in a news release. “While prices remain shy of the highs recorded in 2007, this is a move in the right direction.”

There were 21,207 residential property sales in 2012, up from 18,496 in 2011.

The news comes as ATB Financial economist Will van’t Veld reported that Alberta likely welcomed more new Albertans in 2012 than in its boom years a decade ago.

“This isn’t surprising, as the labour market here has been the best in the country and housing costs are relatively affordable,” he wrote in a report.

“The stage is set for the trend to continue in 2013 and beyond.”

Through the first three quarters of 2012, almost 56,000 more individuals came to Alberta than left the province, ATB noted, adding that’s 6,000 more than in 2006, the year Alberta saw its largest in-migration, and 16,000 more than in 2005, the second highest in-migration year.

“The last time Alberta welcomed so many newcomers there wasn’t enough housing to shelter everyone and that sparked the housing boom,” said van’t Veld in a report.

“In the early 2000s, housing starts in Alberta weren’t strong and there was little surplus inventory, so the mid-decade influx of migrants put pressure on existing housing stock. The jump in real estate prices caused a building boom, which is why there is no major shortage today.”

Lurie attributed the recent growth in Calgary’s real estate sales to the energy sector.

“There is no question employment and migration growth has supported housing demand, a trend that is expected to continue this year, albeit at a slower pace,” she said.

CREB figures show that single-family sales rose by 15 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011 but new listings fell by seven per cent, significantly reducing the inventory and pushing prices higher.

“Consumers in the market were looking for value, and, if a home was priced right based on a longer term view of their housing needs, they were buying,” said CREB president Bob Jablonski.

The unadjusted average price of a single-family house in Calgary was $497,000 for the month of December, nine per cent higher than $455,000 in the same month of 2011.

For the year, average single-family prices were up three per cent to $481,000.

CREB said its “benchmark” or typical single family house sold for $434,800 in 2012, two per cent below peak pricing in 2007.

Sales in the apartment and townhouse sector recorded annual increases of 12 and 16 per cent, respectively, while listings declined in both sectors

Condominium apartment average prices totalled 304,000 in December, a 13 per cent increase over December 2011 but CREB cautioned that there were several multimillion-dollar condominium sales in 2012 that skewed figures higher.

Townhouses posted an average price of $306,000 in December, up 4.5 per cent from $293,000 a year earlier.

 

dhealing@calgaryherald.com



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