Saskatoon real estate week in review: March 18-24, 2012

Like Saskatoon real estate prices lately, home sale numbers are showing some pretty strong ups and downs over the past several weeks. This week was a down. The number of houses and condos reported as sold to the MLS® system slipped 17 units compared against the previous week to just 65 homes and fell short of the number of sales reported during the same week a year ago by 19 properties. Still, a strong start to the year and a few very robust sales weeks put total units sold so far this year ahead of last year by a little more than eight percent.

Meanwhile, new listings are showing an increase of just two percent compared to last year having grown to 1440 from 1408. This week, Saskatoon real estate agents brought 130 houses and condominiums to the multiple listing service®, up two from the previous week and ahead of the same week in 2011 by 19 homes.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The total number of residential properties offered for sale on the Saskatoon multiple listing service® continued to make some gains, but at a slower pace than might be considered typical for this time of year. On a weekly basis, the numbers rose by just 17 to close the week at 1069, down more than 100 units from levels seen at the same time last year when 1173 properties were for sale. At present, there are 636 single-family homes and 349 condominiums showing an active status on the system. Last year at this time, those categories stood at 669 and 435 respectively.

In theory, stronger demand and softer supply is shifting the market to favour sellers. That’s bringing about a bit of hype and excitement amongst real estate agents and prospective buyers and sellers, but at this point, it seems to be more hype than substance. That said, there’s no denying that conditions have gotten tighter for buyers. Multiple offer scenarios are becoming a bit more commonplace. Agents scheduling showings are often finding many of the homes that they’d like to show are already under contract. Prices are clearly higher than they were a year ago, but not much higher than they were through the back half of last year. There isn’t a lot of over the top bidding wars like some markets have been reporting, but if you’re shopping for a home in the $250,000 – $350,000 range there’s a good chance that you’re running up against other buyers that might take a crack at it as well. Still, the largest majority of Saskatoon homes sold are still trading at, or below the asking price. It will be interesting to see what happens in the weeks ahead of us.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

A strong showing of entry level buyers pushed the average sale price of a Saskatoon home sharply lower this week to make a somewhat rare appearance below the $300K mark, at $288,165. That’s the lowest weekly average price that we’ve seen since the first week of April, last year. The weekly median price followed along and slipped to $271,000. The six-week average price held its ground losing just five hundred dollars on a weekly basis to finish the week at $318,077 for an annual gain of about twenty-two thousand dollars. The four-week median slid lower by sixteen thousand from last week to close the week at an even $300K for year-over-year growth of roughly $15,000.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

As I mentioned earlier, overbid activity wasn’t exceptionally strong, even though changing conditions in the market seem to favour sellers. Lately, we’ve been counting some overbids as “at list” sales, when it’s clear that something different has occurred with the listing (a new home that has been on the market 80 days sells for $40,000 over list because the final contract included basement development, which had never been factored into the list price). Taking those types of situations into account, just two Saskatoon home sellers closed a deal for more than their asking price with an average overbid of $12,200. Another 13 buyers stepped up to write a full list price offer while 50 of this week’s 65 sellers settled for a firm contract that was below their asking price by an average of $8,400.

Other notable Saskatoon MLS® real estate activity this week included 27 cancelled or withdrawn listings, just 12 expired listings, and 41 price adjustments.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this past week

Housing to stay moderately overvalued – Globe and Mail
Is turning a profit as a landlord realistic? – Star Phoenix
Home buyers: Beware market sucker punch – Globe and Mail
Low mortgage rates skew sense of affordability – Financial Post
Skyrocketing house prices bound to come down: BMO head says – Globe and Mail
Are Canadian house prices dangerously overvalued – Globe and Mail
Tax break for rental construction unveiled – CTV News
New take on household debt: Families have large cushion – Globe and Mail
Budget 2012: Business gives enthusiastic reception to apartment plan – Leader Post
Canadian housing market still hot – Financial Post
Flaherty wraps banks on lending stance – CBC News
Remax expects heated sales this spring – CTV News
Government in no rush to tighten mortgage rules – Canadian Real Estate Magazine
Canada’s mortgage body moves to slow booming housing market – Globe and Mail
Banks tighten condo lending amid bubble fears – Financial Post
Home price growth slows in Canada – Globe and Mail
Household debt fears grow as rates appear set to rise – Financial Post
Home prices rise in February but pace slows – Globe and Mail

A map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate areas is here.
An overview of data collection and calculation practices for our statistical reports is here.

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I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate