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Alberta home sales surge surprises even agents

Multiple bids and even flippers emerge as Edmonton home sales soar 52 per cent and Calgary posts the highest sales since the oil-price crash back in 2014,
Home sales soaring in Alberta cities, suburbs. | Submitted

Total housing sales in Greater Edmonton for February 2021 increased 52.1 per cent compared to February 2020 and 36.8 per cent from January 2021, a surprising performance even for the local real estate association.

Calgary sales hit a seven-year record in February in what some are calling a sellers’ market.

“The Edmonton market saw a significant increase in year-over-year residential unit sales as well as month-to-month sales,” said Realtors Association of Edmonton chair Tom Shearer. “There have also been more sales of single-family homes, condos and duplexes compared to February of last year as well as last month.”

Added Shearer, “The high level of activity we have seen in February is uncharacteristic for this time of year. We are witnessing a very strong market.”

For the month of February, single-family detached house sales were up 62.2 per cent from February 2020 and 40 per cent higher than in January 2021 at 1033.

Condo sales increased nearly 20 per cent from February 2020 and 26.7 per cent from January 2021.

The number of new residential listings is also up year over year, increasing 7.6 per cent from February 2020. Overall inventory in remains down about 17 per cent from February of last year, but was up 7.6 per cent compared to January 2021.

The composite home prices is up to $377,931, a 7.6 per cent increase from February 2020, and up nearly 4 per cent from January 2021.

Single-family homes sold for an average of $437,977 in February. Condominiums sold for an average of $230,929.

In Calgary, February sales home sales reached 1,836 units, the highest level for any February since 2014, the year oil prices crashed.

The month It is also the first time since 2018 that average Calgary detached-house prices have risen above $500,000.

“Much of the strong sales activity is driven by exceptionally low mortgage rates,” said Calgary Real Estate Board chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

The surge is not limited just to Alberta’s two big cites.

Housing sales in St. Albert, an Edmonton suburban community, increased by almost 72 per cent in February compared to this time last year, as the price of single-family homes surges with fewer listings on the market during the pandemic. 

Shandrie Lewis, real estate agent and broker for Re/Max professionals, told the St. Albert Gazette that her brokerage saw 106 more transactions so far this year, equalling a 76-per-cent increase compared to the first two months of 2020, pre-pandemic.

"We're slammed right now. Inventory is incredibly low, we're in multiple offer situations every day," Lewis said. Most of those sales are made up of single-family homes, she said. “We weren’t expecting this.”

As to why the housing market is seeing a surge when other areas of the economy are struggling, Lewis pointed to a few potential reasons. People have more time on their hands to look for opportunities, many are saving money because of travel and social restrictions, and investors are buying fixer-upper homes to flip and sell. 

"People's lives are also changing, too – I do know divorces are going up right now, job losses, people needing to downsize. But then a lot of people have done really well over the last year from not putting kids in recreation activities or travelling, so they're investing in real estate,” she said.