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Region's hot real estate market breaks records

MLS statistics show Innisfail had its highest ever increase in residential sales
MVT Real estate Darcy Blair
Innisfail realtor Darcy Blair, along with Nicole Blair, made a market presentation to Innisfail town council on Jan. 17 showing there is a record setting real estate demand in the town and region. File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – The real estate market is booming throughout Central Alberta like never before with 2021 being the most active year for residential MLS sales in the region’s history, toppling the previous best in 2014 by 6.5 per cent.

And last year the Town of Innisfail experienced a 53.1 per cent increase in residential sales, also eclipsing the previous record in 2014.

According to independent research of Innisfail and Central Alberta MLS activity, Innisfail had 165 residential sales with a total sales volume of $23,332,631 in 2014, compared to a new record in 2021 that saw 173 residential sales with a total sales volume of $26,172,438.

For Central Alberta, the region had 4,589 residential sales with a total sales volume of $1,729,070,367 in 2014, compared to a new record in 2021 that saw 4,846 residential sales with a total sales volume of $2,067,141,448.

Those MLS statistics, which are believed to represent an accurate picture of the market but not necessarily representing all real estate activity, were compiled by Darcy and Nicole Blair. They are Innisfail real estate agents with RE/MAX real estate central Alberta.

“In Central Alberta we saw massive, massive increases, more in the rural areas than we saw in Red Deer, which I think speaks to COVID and a lot of the attitude coming out of that, and that they maybe want to see smaller centres, more tight knit communities that they might want to be involved in versus moving to Red Deer,” said Darcy to Innisfail town council on Jan. 17 during a real estate market presentation.

He added realtors are seeing a huge influx of buyers from Ontario and British Columbia. Darcy later added realtors are also seeing many possession dates, typically 90 days, cut to two weeks, or to 30 or 45 days.

“This is going back to 2006 all over again,” said Town of Innisfail Mayor Jean Barclay of the presentation. “It’s exciting. It’s been a while and I’m happy for everybody, and happy for the real estate offices in town that are finally seeing a corner turned here.”

However, council also heard local and regional real estate markets are currently at a “crossroads” with active listings, which are now down substantially with just 1,258 residential MLS listings in Central Alberta at the beginning of 2022.

“So, (that’s) a massive decrease in listings,” said Darcy, adding this year’s statistic compares to 1,949 in January of 2020 and 2,953 three years earlier. “One of things we need to focus on is trying to get more listings to be able to sell and bring more people into the communities.”

He told council on Jan. 17 that Innisfail currently had 44 listings, with 20 being on the market for more than 90 days. “We would consider them (20) almost stale and off the market essentially. We’re probably looking at 15 really good listings right now,” he said.

Darcy also told council Laebon Homes is not going forward with spec homes this year in any Central Alberta communities. He said this development speaks to the current state of higher building costs and supply chain issues.

“I don’t foresee that as being something we are going to see this year from any of the builders, (with) Laebon being the frontrunner that way,” he said.

Nevertheless, council was clearly impressed and upbeat over the presentation, and asked many questions. Coun. Don Harrison wanted to know the age demographic of the “51.3 per cent” of new citizens moving into Innisfail.

He also wanted to know, with builders not moving forward with spec homes, what buyers are now looking for in a new home.

Darcy replied realtors don’t have statistics that breaks down buyers into age groups, only the numbers of recent influx of buyers coming from out of the province, which has not happened in several years.

He also said there was no real scientific method to figure out exactly what any anyone wants, with every home buyer “individualized” and realtors increasingly seeing that trend.

Barclay asked who the town is “losing business to”, noting there’s a “narrow inventory” without stocks of townhouses and row housing, which could be a deterrent for many people to move to Innisfail as they can’t find the right housing fit.

“I would say in years past we lost of our young buyers to Penhold just because they offered some of those row housing and seller starter homes,” replied Nicole. “If we’re losing people, it’s not just specific to those. We’re losing people to executive homes. They don’t turn over as quickly. I think we’re losing a little bit of everybody.”

“So, builders are saying, ‘we want to pause and not build spec homes’, and that is something we will have to navigate but there is still such a demand for inventory,” she added. “If you build it, they will come, if there’s product there. I can understand it on a big front the builders not wanting to build a bunch of spec homes but wouldn’t it be fun to build a house and see what happens?”


Johnnie Bachusky

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