House prices and sales numbers usually grab the headlines but there’s another issue in the spotlight and that’s low inventory. The number of homes listed for sale in Calgary and across the country is at near record lows. With less supply comes higher prices.

Inventory Levels

Simply put, housing inventory is at about half its normal level across Canada. The Canadian Real Estate Association says nationally there’s about 2.3 months’ worth of supply available in July. Its chair, Cliff Stevenson warns “it’s record low inventories that should be our focus. We still have extremely unbalanced housing markets all over the country.”

Here in Calgary, there’s been some improvement in housing inventory levels this year. Calgary Real Estate Board figures for June show there’s now 2.4 months supply overall but if you’re looking for a detached home, that number is less than two months supply. That’s a tight market by anyone’s standards. Royal LePage’s Kirby Cox says this is one of the five worst years he’s ever seen for housing inventory in Calgary. He believes the reasons behind it are complex. “Some people just won’t move because of the pandemic and the uncertainty around it, others are put off from building a new home because of the talk about rising lumber prices.” Even though lumber prices have now fallen, Cox explains a couple of spokes have come off the housing market wheel, “people can’t find the inventory they’re looking for so they in turn won’t put their home up for sale.”

Sellers’ Market

With fewer homes for sale, prices rise. The highest price gains in Calgary have been in detached homes. Prices were up by 1% in June from May and up 13% from the previous year according to CREB figures. Low inventory also makes it a strong sellers’ market. The same figures show it’s also still a sellers’ market in semi-detached and row homes. There’s a little more choice here but inventory levels are still below normal levels. Kirby Cox believes the fall will continue to be a tight market. “As a strong listing agent we’re just not getting as many phone calls as we normally would to catch the fall market.” He believes many are waiting to see what happens next and historically Cox says home listings slow during election campaigns. This is all great news for sellers. Cox is encouraging anyone considering listing to “take advantage of the low inventory and reach for the fall market.”

Posted by Sue French on

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