February 4th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 5
Crowsnest Pass Real Estate
John Pundyk - Feature Writer
Wherever I go, there is a good chance someone will ask me about the state of our real estate. Though we’re doing better than many people think, we still have room for improvement.
While I don’t have a crystal ball which would allow me to make sweeping predictions about our future, I do have a very good set of data to tell you what has happened in our market. This data also allows me to make a few observations about where our market is heading in the near term.
2014 has been a busy year for local realtors. According to the MLS sold data for the year, we had 122 residential sales, plus we sold an additional 10 pieces of vacant land.
This is the best number since the market retracted in 2009. Also, this number speaks loudly to a common misperception that we are inundated with “For Sale” signs.
The fact is, if we look at the year, in its entirety, we were never very far from 122 houses “for sale” throughout our community. As our new year begins, we start with about 75 homes on the market. This number will rise as summer approaches and the volume of sales picks up.
I can safely report our market has been moving slowly without major swings in price or volume since the 2008 correction. Prior to that, we had many people who used to buy houses and land here “on spec.”
We have not seen this speculative activity, in any significant measure, in the last few years. This means, unlike many other areas of Alberta recently, we have not seen significant market price gains in quite some time.
Most of our buyers are careful and are buying homes because they need one. This is very healthy for the marketplace and the community. This point is confirmed by a recent uptick in our school enrolment, especially in the lower grades.
We have people moving here because of work at the Elk Valley coal mines, as well as, people who are drawn here because of our remarkable mountain landscape and the healthy lifestyle it offers.
On the employment side, we must salute Teck Coal for their stellar effort of keeping their production up and competing in a very difficult global market environment.
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Those who follow the coal industry know how brutal the price competition has been with major Australian producers, such as BHP, who have been grinding many others right out of the market.
It is fair to say, Teck, which is the second largest global supplier of seaborne metallurgical coal, will emerge even stronger when the current price rout cycle comes to an end.
So what are we to expect from our real estate market in the near term? It is safe to say we can expect more of what we saw in 2014.
This means a slow and steady increase in our sales volumes combined with a modest increase in prices. This increase is likely to be tied to the inflation rate which is currently about 2% in Alberta.
One can also make a strong argument that the recent collapse of oil prices will not have a huge impact on our local market. There is a reason for this.
Our recreational market never really recovered to the important numbers it had prior to 2008. Now this is becoming a blessing in disguise.
As the broader oil economy falters, Albertans are likely to pull back from discretionary spending on far flung recreational properties.
On the other hand, people who need homes will find our housing stock to be very affordable compared to many other places.
In fact, January 2015 saw seven residential sales. Combined with the six sales in January 2014, this is in line with the proposition that our market is now in good shape. The following graph illustrates the January MLS sales results all the way back to 2005.
So, while we don’t have a crystal ball, we do have some very useful MLS data from which to take a bit of comfort. Unlike many other places, our local real estate market has not witnessed the major swings which keep the economists awake at night. Slow and steady is how the Crowsnest Pass will win this race.
February 4th ~ Vol. 85 No. 5
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