Calgary’s resale housing market lost more than $4.6 billion in sales in 2015, data from the Canadian Real Estate Association show.
It said the total dollar volume of MLS sales fell to $10.89 billion in 2015, from $15.5 billion in 2014 — a plunge of 29.7 per cent that was by far the largest in Canada.
The drop was the result of sales declining by 28.6 per cent to 23,994 transactions combined with the average sale price falling by 1.5 per cent to $453,814.
“The recent decline and uncertain outlook for oil prices means that housing market prospects are unlikely to improve in the near term in regions where job market prospects are tied to oil production,” said Gregory Klump, chief economist with CREA, the national association of realtors.
Across Alberta, total dollar volume in 2015 fell by 22.8 per cent to $22.2 billion from $28.8 billion the year before based on a 21.3 per cent decrease in sales to 56,477 units and a 1.9 per cent decline in the average sale price to $393,138.
Diana Petramala, economist with TD Economics, said listings are rising fastest in cities facing significant economic uncertainty including Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.
“Rising economic uncertainty and the lower-for-longer mantra of oil prices are likely to continue to take a toll on housing markets in economies heavily tied to the oil business,” she said.
“Calgary home prices appear on track for a 10 per cent peak-to-trough decline over 2016.”
The benchmark price, which tracks the sale price of a “typical” home, was down 2.3 per cent in the Calgary region from a year ago to $443,900.
MLS sales in the Calgary area were down 20.8 per cent in December from a year earlier. The average sale price was off by 0.4 per cent.
It was a different story nationally.
CREA statistics indicate the total dollar volume in MLS sales rose 14.4 per cent in 2015 to $224.2 billion from $195.9 billion in 2014. That was a result of sales rising by 5.5 per cent to 506,334 units while the average sale price was up 8.5 per cent to $442,857.
MLS sales in Canada were up 10 per cent in December while the average sale price rose by 12 per cent to $454,342.
Canadian housing starts fell for the third time in four months in January with construction in Alberta tumbling to its lowest level in almost five years.
The pace of work starting on new homes nationwide fell 4.1 per cent from December to 165,861 at a seasonally adjusted annual pace, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Friday.
Alberta’s unadjusted starts fell to 1,466 in January, the lowest since March 2011 and a 50 per cent decline from a year earlier. The decline coincides with a jump in the province’s unemployment rate, CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said in the report.
The commodity collapse is increasing a drag on the national housing market, weakness that was masked over much of last year by surging demand in Toronto and Vancouver. There was evidence Friday of fresh job-market weakness that could temper housing further — Statistics Canada reported Alberta’s unemployment rate rose to the highest since 1996 at 7.4 per cent in January.
While a bigger question might be what’s happened to population in the Calgary area since, the number of people living in the region grew 2.4 per cent in the year ended June 30, 2015, according to a new Statistics Canada estimate.
According to the federal agency’s latest population estimate, the growth rate in the Calgary region was second highest in the country, behind only Kelowna, which grew by 3.1 per cent.
The increase puts the population for the Calgary region at just shy of 1.44 million people — 1,439,756. But growth in the city apparently slowed — in each of the previous three years, Statistics Canada estimated growth of more than three per cent.
With continuing economic uncertainty and job losses in Calgary and Alberta since the end of June, that slowing trend could continue.
Among the country’s metropolitan areas, Statistics Canada said the senior population in the Calgary region was the smallest in the country, on a proportional basis, with just 10.4 per cent of residents aged 65 or older.