It may come as a surprise to home sellers and real estate agents in the northeast Alberta city, but a Vancouver-based real estate analyst claims Fort McMurray’s housing market is on the mend.
“The bloodletting has stopped,” declared Dane Eitel, head of Eitel Insights.
Eitel gained fame by accurately predicting the collapse of Vancouver’s detached- house sales in 2017 as others saw only a blip. He is also an outlier on Fort McMurray.
According to Eitel, Fort McMurray average home prices peaked in May 2012 at $660,000 and held fairly firm until 2015.
In 2016, a massive forest fire destroyed more than 2,400 buildings in the city, including 2,000 homes, and forced the evacuation of 80,000 people. The city also lost about 10 per cent of its residents after the fire.
Average home prices have fallen since then and reached aggregate sale prices as low as $350,000 in late 2018, which is the same level as in 2006.
According to Eitel Insights, Fort McMurray is now starting to recover from what it believes is the bottom of the housing market.
“The downtrend has been broken in and we are seeing an uptrend beginning to form with the sales signalling a recovery is on its way,” Eitel said.
The Fort McMurray Real Estate Board confirms a slow sales recovery is taking place in the dominant detached- house sector.
For all of 2018, total detached-housing sales were up 12.3 per cent from a year earlier, to 555 houses, though the average sale price was down about 5 per cent to $571,600. Townhouse sales increased 40.5 per cent, to 104 units, from a year earlier, but average prices were down 7.2 per cent to $285,000.
Fort McMurray condo apartment sales, however, were down 7 per cent, year-to-year, and the average sale price was down 21 per cent to approximately $167,000.
The rental vacancy rate in the city is 22 per cent, one of the highest in the country, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.