Home prices fall in Calgary as real estate chill deepens

The number of homes up for sale in Calgary has risen sharply in recent weeks. LARRY MACDOUGAL/Canadian Press

The Calgary housing market is cooling fast. New sales and listing data for the first half of the month have been released and the numbers aren’t pretty.

The number of homes trading hands has plunged 37 per cent compared to the first two weeks of January 2014, while the number of active listings surged 64 per percent.

That means there are far more homes up for sale in Canada’s energy capital compared to a year ago, and far fewer buyers. The result: prices declined 1.5 per cent, according to data from the city’s real estate board.

There are now more than 4,000 homes on the market in Calgary versus about 2,500 in the same period a year ago.

“Calgary’s high-flying housing market has caught a serious chill,” Sal Guatieri, senior economist at Bank of Montreal, said Monday afternoon.

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The price drop “is likely the start of a correction,” the economist said.

Until very recently, Calgary’s housing market was the top performing in the country alongside Toronto and Vancouver. Plunging oil prices have worked quickly to cool things down, however.

MORE: Oil’s collapse sends shiver across Alberta’s real estate market

Oil prices have declined to about $47 (U.S.) a barrel, down more than 55 per cent from their June peak. The plunge has seen investment plans by companies in the energy patch cut back and led to layoffs. Most experts expect oil to remain at their current levels well into the new year.

A report from the Conference Board of Canada last week predicted that Alberta, which accounted for one in three new jobs in Canada last year, will contract in 2015 – an outlook Alberta Premier Jim Prentice disputed.

“More pain lies ahead,” BMO’s Guatieri said of the Alberta real estate market, noting pending sales in the province’s biggest city are also down 53 per cent year over year. “Ouch.”

BMO says economic growth in Alberta won’t contract this year but will slow to a crawl, or 0.5 per cent. That’s a sharp deceleration from the average annual growth rate of about 3.5 per cent in recent years, or the best clip in the country.

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Here’s what average home prices looked like in Canada’s Big Three markets versus other major centres as of December.

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