Home show reflects confidence in housing market

If you had the pleasure of visiting the CHBA-CA’s 2012 Home Show, you would have found yourself shoulder to shoulder with many other weary eyed Albertans looking for a deal on anything from mortgages to mops and researching new home builders to realtors and many of you left with a few Jimmy Hooks and even more with those rubber brushed mops.

“This year people seemed even more optimistic than last,” said Natalie and Cory from Larkaun Homes and according to Alberta’s most recent weekly review Albertans have a lot to be excited about.

Already off to a great start our unemployment rate has ratcheted down to 5% from last year’s average of 5.5%, and the previous year’s 6.5%. This could be because of a robust drilling season that we have just went through as many crews return home with pockets full of Canuck bucks to make their way through the break up season. In speaking with a few management friends that are in the oilfield many are expecting a short break up if much at all as many are trying to work right through as oil companies push to get those new wells online as oil is still wading above that $100/bbl level.

Supported by low mortgage rates and a robust labour market, February resale activity rose to the highest level in more than two years. After slipping in January, sales of existing homes jumped 3.6% to 4,733 units in February, which is 8.0% above February 2011 levels. On the supply side, new listings were also up by 2.8% to 8,852. As a result, the sales-to-new listings ratio remained steady at 0.53 — an indication of a balanced market condition. We’ve been watching for these conditions to re-appear since 2008 as this means that there is great opportunity for buyers, and homeowners will see some home value gains as well.

With Alberta firmly in expansion mode, being proven again with expansions at Joffre’s plants and not just in the oilsands, Albertans were definitely feeling confident as they went out and shopped for new homes in February as new home starts had a huge year-over-year increase of 38.2%. The hunger for new homes is being driven by a few factors but a very important one is migration, both interprovincial and international. While still waiting for the final tally for new Albertan’s 2011 count, 2012 is likely to grow a little stronger than last year creating a market that is both strong for builders and resale homes alike.

We in the western provinces do need to count our lucky stars as we find ourselves in one of the strongest economies on the planet with extremely low interest rates to make our home purchases even a more intelligent move, however as strong as we are doing over here in Alberta we do still need to worry about how the rest of the planet is doing and not become obsessively engrossed in how well our province is doing because without the rest of the world, we truly wouldn’t be able to have what we currently do.

Jean-Guy Turcotte is an Accredited Mortgage Professional with Dominion Lending Centres-Regional Mortgage Group and can be contacted for appointments at 403-343-1125, or emailed to jturcotte@regionalmortgage.ca .