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Calgary’s housing market stages remarkable rebound: ‘It’s like a scene out of Mad Max’

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Calgary’s re-sale housing market is enjoying a recent surge in sales following several years of dismal downturns.

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“I just don’t think anyone could have seen this coming,” RE/MAX First realtor Jonathan Ashkin told Global News.

“It’s kind of like a scene out of Mad Max.

“As soon as the property goes live, all the realtors and all their clients are running to these properties as soon as they possibly can.”

Ashkin just got into the real estate business last March, before “the world shut down.” He said he definitely didn’t expect this kind of activity.

“These first couple of months of 2021 — especially the last three-to-four weeks — have been absolutely crazy.”

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Veteran realtor Len T. Wong of Len T. Wong & Associates said he also didn’t expect this, especially after six long years of a “buyer’s market.”

“We’ve seen a buyer’s market go to a balanced market into a seller’s market in less than 30 days,” he added.

Recent statistics on the Calgary Real Estate Board’s (CREB) home page show a red hot month.

As of Feb. 17, a total of 975 homes had already been sold. That’s compared to 592 in the same time period in February of 2020 — a hike of almost 65 per cent.

So-called “days on market” have also declined dramatically. CREB’s stats show that number dropped to 46 days from 58 days for the same time period — a drop of about 21 per cent.

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“It’s really, really getting crazy out there right now and inventory is quite low, especially in the detached market,” Ashkin added.

“So it’s super competitive. You have to view that house in the first 24 to 48 hours, otherwise it’s gone.”

“It’s created a bit of urgency,” Wong added.

Leading the pack

The urgency has really been seen in Calgary’s detached home segment. According to CREB, as of Feb. 17, detached sales totaled 596 units, compared to 335 the year before — a hike of almost 78 per cent.

Other types of properties have also seen an increase, but not as much of one or as fast.

“People prefer detached over attached,” he said. “I think also with low interest rates and those types of things, people are much more wanting to buy detached for long term.”

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Low interest rates have definitely played a part in Calgary’s recent spike in sales, according to CREB. It also lists relatively low inventory — especially in the detached sector — and still affordable prices.

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Although, Wong added prices for detached homes have seen a rise, thanks to multiple offers on those properties.

Good news for sellers; bad news for buyers

Calgary couple Chris and Dixie Brann listed their two-storey home on Jan. 8 of this year.

They had put a lot of work and love into their “fixer-upper,” so they weren’t surprised their Cranston home sold. What did surprise them was that it sold just days after they listed it.

“In the first three days we had 17 showings,” Chris said. “And the house sold by Monday evening.”

“The phone just keep beeping with this alert and we thought, ‘Oh, we got two, oh we got three, oh my God, like there’s nine!'” Dixie added.

The Branns, who had already bought a new home in the same community, accepted the final offer — over list price — and have started to settle into their new home.

“We were very happy,” they said.

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Calgary homeowner Artemis Immel hasn’t been as fortunate with either her home selling or buying experience.

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“It’s been crazy. The houses that we found, they’ve sold within days,” she said.

“There was one that we both loved, and it was 24 hours that it was listed and it was gone. We didn’t even have a chance to go see it.”

Unlike the Branns, she’s can’t afford to buy a new home without selling her old one. So, she said, she’s a bit stuck.

“Most places are selling immediately, and probably with no conditions, because someone is ready to buy it right away,” she added. “We have to sell and buy at the same time.”

She’s still hopeful, that like the Branns, she will one day find her forever home.

Read more: Calgary home sales slump to recent record lows in April amid COVID-19 pandemic

Wong warned both buyers and sellers to act quickly, especially as the interest rate situation can change.

“In my career, I’ve never seen interest rates this low,” he added. “I think it’s a great time to take advantage of it right now because you know once you think things are looking good, something happens to change it.”

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Wong added he doesn’t expect that shift to happen right away, at least not in red hot Calgary.

“We’re going to see this constant in the marketplace for at least the next 60 to 90 days.”

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