Despite the uncertainty that characterizes the current economic developments locally, nationally and globally, experienced realtors in Stettler believe that housing market is very much alive and future does not look bad, at all.
A recent report by RBC Economic Research unit said “Alberta was the only province to experience an improvement in housing affordability in the first quarter of 2010.”
“In contrast to most other provinces, house prices remained relatively tame in Alberta during the past year or so and this has kept the cost of home ownership in check,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC commenting on the report.
Despite the appearance of quite a number of “for sale” signs in Stettler streets, realtors say the number of residential units currently on the market is not drastically higher than this time last year.
Norma Leslie of Royal LePage said there were 89 units up for sale as of last week, including half- duplexes and mobile homes with about 60 of them being single-family houses.
As for sales statistics, Leslie said total sales for the first five months of 2010 was not any different than the figure for the same period in 2009, both years saw 31 residential property sales in town.
Uncertainty about the future of oil and gas industry, declining farming income and many farmers abandoning cattle business are among the major factors that Leslie says might be contributing to the hesitation among potential buyers in the area to make a commitment for a big investment like buying a house.
“We have lots of people coming to us, discussing, looking at properties, but they are just reluctant to make a commitment.
James Dadensky of Remax says he doesn’t believe that real estate market is going through a bad year.
“It is more of a stable market as opposed to a buyer’s market,” he said in reference to the current numbers.
Dismissing claims that real estate market has been in decline, Dadensky said “I’ve been very successful selling houses this year, it’s been very busy”, adding that the market movement was mostly at the modest end.
Both realtors say this is a good time to lock in for anybody who is in the market to buy a residential property.
“It is like buying corn in August,” said Leslie, the most senior realtor in Stettler with a service record since 1970s, referring to current level of prices and the very convenient level of mortgage rates.
“Mortgage money has never been this cheap. Rates are very reasonable at the moment, you can lock in for five years at about six per cent and if you want to go for a variable rate you can go for between one percent or two per cent, which is almost free money.”
She compared the current rates with those some years ago when mortgage rates were hovering around high teens or low 20s.
Dadensky said many people had been waiting for the interest rates to go to the bottom to buy a house.
“I think we have reached the bottom,” he stressed.
“Interest rates are as low as they can be and it is definitely a good time to buy now.”