Calgary housing market continues to cool as sales drop for 20th month

CALGARY – Calgary’s real estate market continues to cool as sales dropped for a 20th consecutive month in July, but the city’s local real estate board says fewer listings helped stem further price drops.

The Calgary Real Estate Board said Tuesday that sales activity totalled 1,741 units last month, for a 12.6 decrease over last year.

Total detached home sales were down slightly less at 9.2 per cent, but with only 6,908 sales so far this year, activity is 22 per cent below the 10-year average and at the lowest level since 1996.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist at CREB, said layoffs and people leaving Calgary are putting pressure on the housing market, but a 10.2-per-cent drop in listings helped to reduce pressure on prices.

Calgary’s benchmark price, which aims to represent the price of a typical home, dropped only $400 from June, though at $440,000, is down 4.16 per cent from July 2015.

Lurie said if more people are forced to sell it could lead to more pressure on prices.

“We’re really in the second year of this cycle. The amount of impact will ultimately depend on how long the cycle lasts,” she said.

Lurie added the market could get a boost from overseas buyers driven out of Vancouver by extra taxes, but noted it’s too early to tell how those issues will play out.

David Lem, general manager at real estate agency Engel & Volkers Calgary, said he’s seen a bump in inquiries from overseas clients but that it hasn’t yet translated into sales.

Lem said there could be an increase in sales from overseas buyers in the next few months if other Canadian markets become less attractive. However, he added, those same potential buyers might be turned off by the cyclical nature of Alberta’s housing market.

“They’re more sensitive to investment,” he said. “What they’re looking for is safe bets (and) stability.”