Housing market demand in St. Albert will continue to grow in the coming year, real estate experts predict.
In 2021, single-family home sales in St. Albert increased 35 per cent compared to 2020, with condo sales seeing an even larger increase in sales by 45 per cent. The additional climb is part of the continuation of the “COVID-19 bump,” said Tom Shearer, former 2021 chair of the Realtors Association of Edmonton.
“St. Albert is the perfect example of what happened in the housing market as a result of COVID-19,” Shearer said. “Buying power increased because interest rates dropped, and so everything became a little bit more affordable.”
Those who were lucky to have stable jobs during the pandemic and found they could work from home realized they needed more space, Shearer explained.
“We call it the move to value, value being you get more house for less money a bit farther out,” Shearer said, referring to more densely populated areas.
Shandrie Lewis, real estate agent and broker for Re/Max Professionals, said her brokerage saw a record number of sales in 2021, with properties in St. Albert moving quickly. Lewis said in 2021, single-family homes in St. Albert spent an average 32 days on the market (down from 40 in 2020), with condos averaging around 50 days (down from 58 in 2020).
“2020 was quite busy, and we weren’t sure if that would carry into 2021 at all, but it did,” Lewis said. “It didn’t slow down much in the winter, and come March and April it really started to heat up — that’s where we got to see a lot of multiple-offer situations.”
Lewis said she thinks 2022 will be “very similar” to its predecessor, with inventory moving quickly and interest rates remaining low.
“It’s a very good time to buy and sell,” Lewis said, noting in comparison to the rest of Canada, prices in the greater Edmonton area have remained on the lower side.
“There were more people moving into Alberta than any other province in the last year, and I think it’s only a matter of time before pricing starts to increase a bit,” Lewis said.
Shearer painted a bit more pressing view of the market for 2022, where housing inventory is shrinking.
“In 2021, we had the benefit of a larger inventory of properties that hadn’t sold,” Shearer said. “This past year, that inventory started to get absorbed. Looking forward to 2022, we have less inventory in the market than we’ve had in a really long time.”
This will lead to more pressure on price, Shearer said, with buyers engaging in more aggressive bids to try to secure property.
While Lewis described the market as balanced, Shearer said the greater Edmonton area has seen a seller’s market since June of 2020. He did echo Lewis in noting the winter months have not let up, with inventory moving rapidly.
“There’s been no break, no foot coming off the gas pedal,” Shearer said.
He said a seller’s market makes it particularly important for buyers to do their homework by becoming very in tune with the area they are looking to live in, and getting pre-approved for a mortgage rate as soon as they can.
“Lenders are waiting for a rate hike to come, and if you have a rate guarantee, you’re locked in for a period of time,” Shearer said.
If buyers see a house they like, Shearer said they’re going to have to be decisive.
“Win the first multiple offer, instead of winning the fifth one that you’re in,” Shearer said. “If you win the one this week, when another multiple offer comes up two weeks from now that same house might be a little bit more expensive, and might have even more interest or activity on it.”
While things are picking up in the market, like Lewis, Shearer noted greater Edmonton area prices are still lower than the rest of Canada.
“We’re very reasonable still,” Shearer said. “The rest of Canada, they’re coming in at the tail end of their cycle, and I think we’re just at the beginning.”