by Noel Busse
Although real estate remains a hot commodity in Regina, the fat lady has yet to sing. Prices could be affected by a record number of houses on the market.
The market has recently begun to slow down, says Gord Archibald, executive officer of the Association of Regina Realtors.
While last year’s housing boom was caused, in part, by the demand for housing outstripping the number of houses listed, now the situation is reversing itself.
“It began to change in April, where we saw 20 year highs as far as the number of new listings coming onto the market,” said Archibald. “Right now we’re at a 20 plus year high as far as the number of active listings on the market . . . and that’s caused the market to slow down.”
Archibald attributes the surge in supply to a number of factors.
Buyers from outside the province played a large part in starting the boom. They are now flipping their newly acquired houses and putting them back on the market.
But, in the long term, there will be enough demand to offset the increased supply, according to Rob Nisbett, broker owner of Reimax. The city will continue to see people moving back from other parts of Canada to take advantage of Saskatchewan’s changing fortune, he said.
“There (are) a lot of ex-pats that want to come home . . . their families and their friends are all here, and I’m seeing it every day,” said Nisbett. “I see lots of transations where they’re coming from Alberta, coming from Vancouver, coming from wherever, because they found a job.”
Quoting an article from the Regina Leader Post, Nisbett said that Regina housing starts are up by 48 per cent, while Saskatoon’s are down 30 per cent. “I think Regina’s in for a pretty good run for the future,” he said.
The newly flooded market has, however, made it more difficult for the average person to sell their home. Homes that would have been snapped up during the start of the boom could now take twice as long to sell, according to Archibald.
“I think what it’s done is it’s stopped the price appreciation, but it hasn’t caused the prices to drop,” said Archibald, referring to the record number of listings.
The average price of a house in Regina saw a 25 per cent increase from $ 196,320 in September 2007 to $ 245,066 in September of this year.
“Right now I’d say the price is a little static,” said Nisbett, citing the recent election as one of the main factors for the stall. “People always get either optimistic or paranoid about what’s going to happen if there’s a change in the government.
Prices may have levelled out for the time being, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to go down anytime soon, says Nisbett. He is expecting prices to go up next spring, traditionally the housing market’s busiest season. Prices could see even more dramatic increases in coming years.
“Quite frankly, I think we’re going to be (at) $ 350,000 average price before it starts levelling off,” said Nisbett. “That may take two or three years to get there, but I think, given what this economy is doing, we’re probably going to hit that average.”