At the end of the first quarter, the number of MLS home sales was 723 units or a 1% increase over last year. The number of properties listed for sale year to date was 2,193, just 2% lower than the first three months of 2016. “Although the first quarter unit sales are comparable to 2016, pricing seems to be slipping slightly,” comments Jason Yochim, CEO of the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS®. “The median price of $320,000 is down 4.3% from a year ago, and the average price of $342,100 is down 1.5%,” he adds. The Home Price Index (HPI) published by the Canadian Real Estate Association indicates a downward trend in pricing as well. The composite price, an aggregate of all home types, for Saskatoon, has been trending downward since August of 2016 when the benchmark value was $309,500 compared to $297,900. This composite value reached its peak of $313,800 in July of 2015. The HPI is based on a benchmark value of $133,400 established in January of 2005. This value is indexed every month thereafter representing the changes to that base value. The downward pressure on pricing is likely to remain until there is a decrease in the current inventory of just over 1,850 active listings or an increase in demand. Multi-family sales of 220 units were up year to date by 18% compared to 187 unit sales last year. The number of single-family sales of 510 units was a slight decline of just over 4% year over year.
The federal changes to mortgage qualification introduced in October of 2017 no doubt have had an impact on some who found it harder to qualify for a single family home. These changes increased the number of multi-family transactions due to buyers qualifying at a substantially lower purchase price. This is reflected in a 5% increase in sales between $200,000 and $350,000 in the first quarter. During this same period, homes priced from $350,000 to $600,000 saw a 13% decline in unit sales.
There is currently enough existing inventory to last almost six months based on current sales activity. This is slightly higher than the five-year average of 4.84 months. For the homes that do sell, currently, on average, it takes 47 days. This is two days more than the five-year average. These homes are selling at just under 98% of the asking price. This is a reflection of the “intelligent buyer” that we see in today’s market place. “Today’s consumer has access to detailed information at their fingertips and know very well what the true market price of a home should be. Sellers are equally informed, and when they can think objectively, they price to market, and the result is a quicker sale with the sale price tight to list.” according to Yochim. The problem lies in most of us unable to be objective even in the face of raw data. The mindset of many home sellers is that their home is worth more than the one down the street because they used ‘heavy duty’ nails in the construction or similar rationale. “This is one of the most critical reasons for enlisting the advice of a professional REALTOR® in pricing your home.”
Activity in the area surrounding Saskatoon has experienced a decline of almost 17% in the number of sales for the first quarter of the year with 167 total sales. A positive here though is the average price is up 9.2% and the days on the market is 64 days compared to 70 for last year. Martensville and Warman have not been affected the same way in the past three years. The city of Martensville experiences 38 sales and 153 listings so far in 2017. By comparison, in the first quarter of 2017 Warman recorded 57 sales and 144 new listings. In the first three months of 2015, Warman had 81 sales compared with 26 in Martensville. The Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® has a membership of just over 600 licensed and knowledgeable REALTORS® who can provide sound market advice. REALTORS® also subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are dedicated to developing professional standards and continuing education in the real estate profession.
Jason Yochim CAE, CRAE