Calgary MLS sales soar in June. Transactions up over 30% from a year ago

Calgary’s residential real estate market experienced a significant upswing in sales in June compared with a year ago.

Single-family MLS sales during the month were 1,398, up 32.01 per cent from June 2010’s 1,059 transactions, according to data released by the Calgary Real Estate Board on Monday.

And for the first time since April 2010, condo sales were up year-over-year, increasing by 30.56 per cent in June to 581 transactions. In June 2010, there were 445 condo sales.

The average sale price for a single-family home in June dropped by 0.33 per cent year-over-year falling to $479,580 from $481,960.

But the condo average rose by 0.79 per cent to $296,501 from $292,182 a year ago.

June’s condo average condo price was the highest since May 2010.

According to CREB, June’s year-over-year increase in single-family home sales was the highest since January 2010’s 38.50 per cent while for the condo market it was the highest since March 2010’s 36.26 per cent.

On a year-to-date basis, single-family home sales for the first six months of this year are up 5.64 per cent from a year ago to 7,231 transactions while condo sales are down 4.91 per cent to 2,965 units.

“Strong monthly increases does not imply a housing boom, as it is important to put into perspective that sales activity remains below long-term averages,” said CREB in a statement.

Sano Stante, president of the Calgary Real Estate Board, said the housing market in Calgary has gradually improved throughout the year as anticipated.

“We had a late spring market this year,” he said. “It’s all starting to come together in June. And last year we had an exuberant market early on and it died in June. So to draw comparisons year-to-year for that month shows an exaggeration of the trend.”

After the first half of the year, it appears the recovery in the housing market is starting to find its footing, he added.

“This gradual leveling has been fueled by growth in employment, and in particular growth in full-time jobs. Improved job prospects, combined with an increase in the number of people moving to Calgary, will give lift to our housing market for the remainder of this year and into the next.”

Stante said homes that are value-priced are selling and they’re moving relatively quickly. Homes that are over-priced are sitting on the market, he added.

Dan Sumner, economist with ATB Financial in Calgary, said a year-over-year comparison may be a little misleading as to the strength of the Calgary housing market in June specifically. June is often one of the busiest months for sales volumes but sales last June were abnormally slow, he explained.

“Fueling sales is a stronger economy specifically in Alberta, which feeds through into consumer confidence and that’s making Albertans more comfortable with home purchases again. Very accommodative interest rates are also helping as well,” added Sumner.

He said prices have been stable for quite some time now, despite a fairly strong economy over the past year. Because housing prices have risen so much over the past 10 years in Alberta, they are about as high as they can be, he said.

“However, with the economy fairly strong in Alberta and rates increasing affordability, for the time being at least, that is preventing prices from moving any lower. What you end up with is resistance for prices to move in either direction, and flatness ensues,” said Sumner.

The key economic contributors to the current housing market include a strong energy sector and resource prices as well as an improving labour market and strong wage growth. Also interprovincial migration to Alberta has picked up, said Sumner.

“With economic conditions in Alberta strong and looking up, sales during the second half of 2011 should be higher than last year,” he said.

Richard Cho, senior market analyst for Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said that although demand for housing has been gradually improving, resale activity this time last year was also moderating.

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