Housing market slowly climbing

By Geoff Lee

August 23, 2017 2:36 PM

Ryan Topley, president of the Realtors Association of Lloydminster & District who works at Creative Realty said there has been a “lot of activity” in the buying and selling of residential properties in the $200,000-250,000 price range and with high end homes as well. The average selling price for a house has dropped about about 6.8 per cent this year up to Aug. 17 to $326,338 compared to $350,147 for the same period in 2016. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

Economic uncertainty continues to tap the brakes on the residential housing market in the Lloydminster area this year, but there are bright spots.
The Realtors Association of Lloydminster & District (RALD) reports there have been 248 sales of residential properties this year up to Aug. 17, compared to 196 for the same period in 2016.
There have been 32 condos sales this year, 10 more than than a year ago.
The average selling price for houses this year is $326,338, marking a decline of 6.8 per cent from the previous year average of $350,147.
The average time for a sold property on the market this year is 99 days, 10 more than in 2016.
“Things are sitting longer on the market, but there have been more sales though” said RALD president Ryan Topley.
He said it is definitely a buyers’ market with 505 properties listed, including detached homes, condos and trailers, but people are concerned about the economy.
“There’s sectors of it that seem busier and it’s picked up, but I think overall, people are still struggling,” said Topley.
“I know there’s a lot of people I’ve dealt with who see an opportunity and want to purchase a home right now, but have a bit of fear, ‘what if my company shuts down’ or they get laid off.”
Topley noted what’s holding back sales at his end of the real estate business is the small pool of buyers due to uncertainty.
“No one wants to outlay hundreds of thousands of dollars if they don’t have a job in six months or six weeks,” he said.
He noted factors such as Husky Energy’s plan to defer a decision on investing in local asphalt refining expansion to post 2020 makes it harder in his line of work to assess where the market is headed.
“It’s a big unknown; it’s hard to say; I don’t see things turning around anytime shortly,” he said.
“We’ve just had so much property on the market, there’s going to be a good selection for buyers going forward.”
The slide in housing prices, however; has generated a lot of sales activity for lower priced homes from $200,000 to $250,000, that were previously unattainable during the oil boom years.
“We’re seeing lots of activity there,” said Topley, who declares this a great time for buyers.
“If you’re in a position where you can purchase a place or build a place, you’re getting that place at a bit of a discount, because when the market starts to increase again, you’re ahead of the curve,” he said.
“You’ve bought it at kind of a wholesale price.”
It’s not just some lower priced properties that are selling in the area though.
“Surprisingly, the real high end stuff —we’ve had a bunch of properties really, really expensive that have sold,” said Topley.
He attributes that and some sales of new homes to people having equity in their homes.
The catch with this scenario though he said, is that most people have to sell to buy and complete the transaction, so that kind of slows down the process of moving up.
Topley’s advice for sellers is to price their properties aggressively.
“Price is for what it’s worth, not what you need out of it, because what you need out of it and what it’s worth generally don’t have anything to do with each other,” he said.
He also says be willing to work with buyers if there’s room to lower the price.
For would-be bargain hunters, he said, if a property is priced properly, the buyer can’t expect the price to drop another $30,000 to $40,000.
“The seller has already made that adjustment; it’s priced where it needs to be,” said Topley.
As for what to expect in Sept. after the summer holidays, Topley said he doesn’t know what to expect anymore.
“In a normal year, and I hate to say that, because nothing is normal anymore, but in a normal year you usually get a bit of a fall rush,” he said.
He said that’s when people want to purchase and get things settled and make their move, before the snow hits and it gets really cold.
“Whether that happens this year, no one knows,” he said.

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