Calgary housing market forges on despite June flooding

Not even the worst floods in memory in June appear to have slowed the Calgary housing market’s progression this year, says a report by RBC Economics Research.

“A strong provincial economy, solid labour market, fast-rising population, and attractive affordability continue to fuel demand for Calgary housing,” said the bank’s latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report.

It said monthly resale activity increased for six straight months, including in June (rising 1.1 per cent month-over-month) and July (up 3.1 per cent). On a quarterly basis, home resales in the area posted their second-strongest gain (12 per cent) in four years in the second quarter.

“While prices recently embarked on a more steeply upward trajectory, the effect of faster-rising prices has yet to undermine affordability in any material way,” said RBC. “In fact, affordability levels in Calgary continue to be among the better in Canada.”

RBC measures for Calgary showed little movement across all housing categories in the second quarter of 2013. RBC’s measure for two-storey homes rose by 0.5 percentage points to 33.6 per cent and for condominium apartments edged lower by 0.2 percentage points to 19.4 per cent; the measure for bungalows remained unchanged at 33.0 per cent.

The RBC Housing Affordability Measures show the proportion of median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes and utilities.

RBC said Alberta homebuyers continued to enjoy a relatively affordable housing market in the second quarter, despite some increases in ownership costs in late 2012 and early 2013.

“Despite the fact that the market has kicked into higher gear since spring — thereby boosting prices and increasing ownership costs — Alberta continues to be a relatively affordable market,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist with RBC. “We will likely see some disruptions in market activity trickle through in summer data from the floods in southern Alberta; however, we anticipate the strong provincial economy will endure, supporting further housing growth in 2014.”

RBC’s affordability measure rose by 0.7 percentage points to 32.4 per cent for bungalows and 0.4 percentage points to 34.5 per cent for two-storey homes. The measure for condominiums rose slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 19.6 per cent.

All measures stood at a level below their long-term average, indicating that home ownership in the province remained historically attractive, said RBC.

Nationally, during the second quarter, affordability measures rose for two of the three categories of homes tracked. RBC’s measure for the detached bungalow rose 0.3 percentage points and for the standard two-storey home rose 0.4 percentage points to 42.7 per cent and 48.4 per cent, respectively. The measure for the standard condominium was unchanged at 27.9 per cent.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald