April housing demand in the Saskatoon region was the strongest in three years, as sales jumped 18 per cent over the same month of 2018.
The Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® (SRAR) reported 513 sales on the MLS® system, up from 433 last April and 414 in 2017. Those sales generated a dollar volume of $169.6 million, up 12 per cent from last year’s $152 million and 14 per cent from $147 million in 2017. Year-to-date, sales are up seven per cent to 1,440, as compared to 1,342 in 2018 and 1,368 in 2017. Dollar volume is up three per cent to $460.2 million from last year’s $447.8 million.
The spring market usually brings an increase in listings, and April followed that tradition. Listings rose four per cent to 1,295, although year-to-date listings are down slightly to 3,971 from 3,989. Compared to the 4,475 properties posted in the first four months of 2017, however, listings are down significantly.
“People came out of hibernation and said, it’s time,” said Jason Yochim, CEO of SRAR. “We’re seeing the beginning of a spring market, which is nice.”
Other factors potentially influencing the market include stable interest rates and lower prices, he added. “There’s less inventory and people are buying what they’re finding on the market,” Yochim said. “It’s feeling more like it’s time to make that move.”
In the city of Saskatoon, the number of properties brought to market actually fell two per cent in April to 774, down from 787 last year and significantly down from the 842 listed in April, 2017. Year-to-date, 2,511 homes have been listed, down three per cent from 2,594 in the same period of 2018. Listings in 2017 were considerably higher, at 3,024.
April sales in the city proper came in at 380, up 14 per cent from last year’s 333 and generating a 16 per cent increase in the dollar volume, to $130.4 million. That figure is up from both 2018 and 2017, when $112.7 million and $113.6 million in sales were recorded, respectively. So far this year, Saskatoon sales are up seven per cent to 1,047, up from 978 in 2018.
The average selling price in the city increased one per cent to $343,121 in April, up from $338,438 last year. Year-to-date, the price remains down by two per cent at $327,995. The region surrounding Saskatoon, including towns and cities such as Warman, Martensville and Dalmeny, saw a whopping 25 per cent increase in dollar volume to $31 million on 105 sales, up 36 per cent from 77 last year. The average price was down eight per cent to $295,780.
Active listings in Saskatoon as of April 30 were down three per cent to 1,778 from 1,834 last year, and up four per cent in the region, to 1,083.
Stronger sales activity was reflected in Saskatoon’s sales to listing ratio, which at 49 per cent is considered a balanced market. “It’s an encouraging sign,” said Yochim. “A balanced market offers a good equilibrium, with a good balance of buyers and product from sellers. Depending on how long it lasts, it helps slow the decline in pricing.”
New housing starts are down considerably, which is also affecting the market. March, for example, saw a 33 per cent drop in single-family home starts and a 70 per cent fall in multiple units. It will take some time before the rising demand spurs more building, because there is always a lag between an improvement in sales and starts, Yochim said.
Prince Albert and region also recorded improved home sales, which rose 25 per cent to 60 units, up from 48 last year. Dollar volume jumped 26 per cent to $12.2 million from $9.7 million last April. Listings were up a marginal two per cent, to 168 from 165. In the city itself, sales were up 41 per cent to 38. “That’s encouraging for P.A., because the market was quite depressed for a number of months,” Yochim said.
Activity was less robust in the Battlefords region. Sales rose 17 per cent in April to 35, up from 30 last April, but dollar volume dropped 35 per cent to $5 million from $8 million. Listings, however, fell seven per cent to 138.
Every market, including the strengthening Saskatoon market, comes with its own challenges for buyers and sellers, noted Yochim.
“If you want to know how the recent changes in the market affect your individual home and needs, it’s best to contact a SRAR member. They have the knowledge, experience and objectivity to help you make good decisions about your personal circumstances.”