If you think full parking lots at the malls are a sign of a strong economy then this past weekend’s parade of homes attendance is definitely another.
I tried going Saturday afternoon with my family after hitting up the Kraay Family farm in Lacombe, but there was just way too many cars and people for this fella, especially after navigating the Mazes and chasing a few 5 to 8-year-olds around the also busy farm.
So on Sunday I took my bike for a short ride late in the afternoon to check out all the buzz. There were still many people moving around and checking out the houses, and not one house was busier than the other. The event really pulled out all the stops, on Saturday they had a BBQ and bouncy castles for the kids to enjoy while the parents got to really investigate all the builders’ hardware.
Terry Loewen, president of Platinum Homes said in a weary voice, “There were literally hundreds of people that came through the house this weekend. At one point I had to step out to speak with an interested buyer but then I couldn’t even get back into my show home because of the log jam trying to get in.” If you know Terry at all, he’s not one to wince about anything, but he sure looked tuckered out late on Sunday afternoon, and I’m sure he’s very satisfied with the outcome as his new show home sold the second day of the event.
To speak of the economic status of Alberta as of late, we still have the lowest unemployment rate in the country sitting at 4.4% as of July (Alberta Finance and Enterprises most recent report), our average weekly earnings are up 4.1% over last year and net migration to the province this year is already at 35,006 (both interprovincial and international residents, less non-permanent residents).
So far this year new housing starts are up 36% over last year, even though July was a sluggish month with a decline of 10.6% year over year, which seems conveniently timed to the government’s super quick mortgage rule changes.
There’s good news on resale homes as well, the average MLS listing in Alberta is at $359, 200.00 compared to $352,700.00 in 2011. Kevin Durling of Royal Lepage Network Realty, one of Red Deer’s top realtors was telling me that single family homes in Red Deer listed under the $375k price range have increased in value by about 5% over last year, but that houses listed between $375-$450k haven’t changed much and that inventory is priced very strong as there are some amazing deals in that category right now.
From the mortgage world, interest rates are still super low, and are bouncing around like on a poorly built railroad track. One day one lender increases 10 or 20 basis points (0.10-0.20%) while another may come out with a special that is far better than anyone else’s.
Show homes and malls are being kept busy by our thriving work force as the unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest level in almost four years, and as we are going into the winter drilling season that number is surely about to drop further.
Builders and realtors alike will be kept busy as confident consumers vie for homeownership in our ever-changing landscape. The only thing that concerns me is that home value growth stays consistent in the 3% to 6% range and mortgage rates stay low. But those two things are out of anyone’s control…except for the government’s that is!
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 email@example.com