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The average home price in Calgary for August 2022 was $485,000. That's down 0.6% year-over-year and 1.3% monthly. Average home prices do not show the true extent of price changes because of the substitution effect. When increases in home prices or mortgage rates reduce consumers' buying power, they shift their purchases to more affordable options.
There is a change in the property types that buyers are interested in. Compared with last July, people are buying more condos and townhouses while buying relatively fewer detached and semi-detached houses. A better understanding of the market trend can be achieved via the Calgary Real Estate Board's Benchmark Price rising 26% in two years and 11% year-over-year to $531,800.
Calgary's real estate market was very active during the period February-April 2022. In August 2022, 2,136 homes changed hands. This shows a sharp decline in activity compared with the spring. The heightened activity level earlier this year might have been because many people anticipated the rise in interest rates and rushed their purchases.
New listings in the city of Calgary decreased 3.7% year over year (YoY) to 2,718 homes, while the sales to new listings ratio stood at 79%, higher than last year’s 76%. Inventory decreased 21% YoY and currently stands at 4,778 homes equaling 2.2 months of sales compared with 2.8 months last year. While the market is tighter than last August, compared with spring 2022, we are moving from a tight market favouring sellers toward a market favouring buyers.
The Calgary housing market is exhibiting very interesting dynamics. Prices are slowly coming down while the inventory levels are pretty low. We see a slowdown in sales but an even faster slowdown in listings. This suggests that buyers have become more disciplined about their purchase price and more conservative about the risk they are willing to take.
There seems to be a divergence in understanding market dynamics between potential buyers and potential sellers. While potential buyers seem to perceive more downside risk to real estate prices and have become disciplined about their purchase price, sellers seem to perceive the downside price risk as temporary. They are holding out for the return of inflation to housing prices.
In August 2022,
These data suggest that high prices for detached and semi-detached homes and limited availability have pushed homebuyers towards row and apartment houses. Total sales in August 2022 are 0.5% lower year-over-year, and average Calgary home prices have decreased by 0.5% yearly. Thus total sales volume in the City of Calgary decreased by 1% year-over-year. On average, Calgary houses sell at 98% of their list price.
We can also look at the median prices for Calgary houses decreasing by 0.1% yearly while decreasing 0.3% monthly to $438.7k as another price indicator. Also, looking at year-to-date data, Calgary's benchmark real estate prices have increased by 14% this year, reaching $532.8k.
Average prices for detached and semi-detached homes in August show, respectively, a 7.8% and 5.2% yearly increase reaching $636.4k and $514.8k. At the same time, row house and apartment average prices increased by 7% and 4.5% year-over-year, respectively, to reach $341k and $270.2k.
Over the first quarter of 2020, the Bank of Canada (BoC) feared the Covid pandemic causing a severe economic downturn. Thus BoC brought its policy overnight interest rate close to zero and started pumping billions of dollars into the Canadian economy.
To see the extent of expansion in Canada’s money supply, consider the total assets on the BoC’s balance sheet. Assets of BoC were around $120B in early March 2020; these assets reached a peak of $575B in March 2021. Newly created Canadian dollars paid for this $475B increase in BoC’s assets.
The housing market became a destination for some of this newly created money. Though home prices are not included in the official inflation number, increases in house prices cause increases in landlords' asking rents, which in turn increases tenants' rents. With considerable time lag, real estate inflation finds its way into official inflation numbers.
Now that inflation is close to 8%, and the central bank's reputation is at stake, BoC is raising rates and removing money it had created through a program called quantitative tightening (QT). This is the money the bank had made earlier through a program called quantitative easing (QE).
The continuation of the Bank of Canada rate hikes is a headwind for real estate markets as it raises mortgage rates. This headwind acts on Canadian real estate, the Canadian stock market, and the bond market. This headwind is starting to show its effect on the Canadian real estate market.
The Bank of Canada started tightening monetary policy on March 2, 2022, increasing the BoC’s key interest rate from 0.25% on March 1st to the current rate of 3.25%. Given the current level of inflation in Canada, we expect a further increase in the policy rate and a continuation of quantitative tightening.
These rate increases immediately impact prime rates and affect variable-rate mortgages and HELOCs. Impending rate hikes have long been looming over Calgary’s housing market as buyers look to lock in mortgage rates before further potential increases.
The possibility of higher Alberta mortgage rates and reduced home affordability likely have caused the past few months of record home sales (from February to April) in Calgary. However, higher mortgage rates and home prices are expected to weaken the demand for housing in Calgary this year.
In contrast to the strong headwind of monetary policy facing the Calgary housing market, there are also few tailwinds. Over the past three years, the Calgary region has been the most affordable housing market among the four largest Canadian cities of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. This affordability is a tailwind for the Calgary real estate market as some people move their residence from southern Ontario or lower mainland BC to Calgary.
Additionally, Alberta’s favourable income tax rates give an extra incentive to move to Calgary. Some real estate investors have made enormous gains in southern Ontario and Southern BC housing markets and are just moving their investments to another large but comparatively cheap housing market in Calgary.
Another tailwind for the Calgary housing market is supply chain disruptions. Supply chain disruptions materially slow down the completion of new homes and thus limit supply. However, many real estate markets across Canada are facing the same issue.
The third tailwind behind the Calgary housing market relates to Alberta having the fourth-largest oil reserves behind Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. As the most populous metropolitan area in Alberta, Calgary houses many headquarters for energy companies. At higher oil prices, these companies hire more people and improve the demand in the Calgary housing market. Historically there has been a positive correlation between Calgary home prices and oil prices. Thus the current rise in oil and gas prices is another tailwind for the Calgary real estate market.
Real estate commissions are the fees that home sellers pay to the seller and buyer real estate agents for their services. In Calgary, the total commission rate is structured as 7% for the first $100,000 of a home’s sale price and 3% on the remaining balance. Seller agents usually get half or 50% of this total commission with buyer agents getting the other half. To calculate your real estate commission for Calgary, see our calculator below. For other cities in Alberta, please visit our Alberta real estate commission calculator page for more information.
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