Burgeoning Calgary population to fuel demand in housing market – New home construction and MLS sales on upswing

A burgeoning population will spark another real estate cycle in Calgary with increased demand fuelling more MLS sales and more new home construction.

But industry experts don’t expect the next cycle to mirror the boom of a couple of years ago which experienced a frenzy of activity and fast-rising house prices due to a lack of supply.

Instead, a stable, steady growth is expected in Calgary’s real estate market.

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported the Calgary census metropolitan area had the highest rate of population growth in the country at 12.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011 and is now more than 1.2 million for the region.

Tim Logel, president and partner of home builder Cardel Lifestyles in Calgary, said the population data supports what the industry believes is happening in the market.

“What’s positive about it is that as more people move to Calgary then more of the inventory or the supply that we’ve been working on reducing gets absorbed,” said Logel. “And it gets absorbed quicker and gets us closer to being in a higher demand environment where we’re being asked to produce more new housing products of all types for the market … Over the next year with this in-migration, the extra supply will be absorbed.”

Logel said a new real estate cycle has been started in the city. The last one finished in the spring of 2007 in the Calgary market.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist for the Calgary Real Estate Board, said the growing population will help support increased demand for housing in the resale market as well.

“In the resale market, especially moving forward, we think this will also help really take up some of that inventory that is in the market because we had some out-migration in the past few years. 2010 in particular, in-migration levels were extremely slow and so that impacted our housing market as well,” said Lurie.

CREB is forecasting single-family MLS sales activity to increase by 12.2 per cent this year from 2011 levels and condo transactions to jump by 5.9 per cent. Its forecast is also for average sale prices of single-family homes to rise by 2.1 per cent and by 1.7 per cent for condos.

“It’s much more of a stable growth than it was during the last boom. I just don’t see us moving there,” said Lurie. “We’re not moving into that scenario. It’s a much more stable growth and we have a good supply of inventory right now in the resale market and frankly on the new home market they do have some room to improve in some of their construction.

“They’ve got some room to grow and build more to help meet with those household formation numbers.”

Already in January some real estate data, released Wednesday, is indicating support for increased activity in the market as housing starts and residential building permits showed impressive increases compared with a year ago.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., housing starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area totalled 786 units in January, up 52 per cent from 518 units a year ago.

In the region, 336 single-detached units broke ground in January, up 14.7 per cent from the 293 units started in January 2011.

“This represents the sixth consecutive month where starts have increased on a year-over-year basis,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for the CMHC.

Multi-family starts, which include semi-detached units, rows and apartments, increased to 450 units in January, up from 225 units a year earlier.

“As was the case in the last several months, apartment construction continues to be elevated, averaging more than 340 starts per month since August 2011,” said Cho.

Also, the estimated construction value of building permit applications for the residential sector in Calgary rose by 42 per cent in January compared with a year ago.

In releasing its latest data on Wednesday, the City said residential values increased to $153 million compared with $108 million in January 2011. This represents 651 new residential units, a 73 per cent increase compared with the January 2011 total of 376.

“The overall gain in residential value and number of new residential units can be attributed to increases in the apartment and townhouse sectors,” said Kevin Griffiths, chief building official with the city’s department of development and building approvals.

“For the month of January we accepted six apartment applications for 193 new units compared to zero last year, and 20 townhouse applications for 122 new units, compared to only seven townhouse applications totaling 44 units for the same period last year.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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