A different homebuyer is emerging in the Edmonton market

Interest is shifting toward more affordable segments of the real estate market.

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It’s not quite the deluge of buyers seen last spring when Edmonton’s resale real estate market saw record-high sales.

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Yet this spring market is gaining momentum, based on recent data for the Realtors Association of Edmonton.

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“What we have seen already this year is more of a return to traditional market conditions with the normally busy spring market, and it is truly heating up,” says Melanie Boles, a realtor and chair of RAE.

“Yes, we have seen a decrease year over year, but we’re now seeing increases that are month over month.”

She points to March resale market data, showing sales had fallen nearly 45 per cent from March 2022, an all-time record for any month when 3,311 homes changed hands.

Yet sales this past March sales still were up month over month more than 42 per cent.

“When we take out the anomaly years of the pandemic, we’re seeing fairly strong activity in the city.”

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RAE statistics from 2022 and 2021 show sales in March substantially higher than March this year, but the recent activity is still higher than the years 2017 to 2020.

What’s more, the market is seeing a shift in buyer choices with more resilient activity amid tightening supply in lower cost segments.

“We’re trending in some segments toward what looks more like a sellers’ market,” Boles says.

March sales-to-new-listings ratios for townhomes, for example, reached 72 per cent. A percentage above 60 per cent typically reflects conditions favouring sellers.

In contrast, the ratio for single-family detached homes in March was 52 per cent, indicating a good balance between supply and demand.

It also points to buyers being more price-conscious than last year, she adds.

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Local realtor Nathan Mol with Liv real estate agrees, noting that condominium sales “have been quite active lately.”

In the past 30 days, the city saw 448 apartment transactions, up 40 per cent over 2019.

Still, single-family homes in the mid-range prices are the first-choice option for many.

“The sweet spot for many buyers this spring so far is for (detached) homes in the $400,000 to $600,00 price bracket,” says Mol.

Overall, average prices in the city have declined year over year so far this year, including March. With a benchmark price for a home of about $378,000 and about $430,000 for a detached home, Edmonton remains among the most affordable large city markets in Canada.

That price differential between here and Toronto and Vancouver has drawn many buyers from those cities “who were previously priced out of the market,” Mol says.

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In fact, Edmonton has become an even more preferable choice compared with Calgary — which has traditionally been the first choice of interprovincial migrants, he adds.

“The Calgary market has been really hot, and there is a severe lack of inventory there,” Mol says. “So, in addition to those who had originally intended to move to Edmonton, some people are seeing it as an alternative to Calgary.”

Of course, most buyers are local, Boles says. But they have shifted their sights to lower priced segments.

With an average price of a condo at the end of March falling five per cent year over year to $170,000, and townhome prices dropping nearly 13 per cent to about $248,000, Edmonton remains among the most affordable markets for price-sensitive buyers.

“It’s not that the buyers have left the market,” Boles says. “It is more they have changed what they’re looking to purchase given the higher rates.”

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