House sales see “significant drop” in 2018

City of Prince Albert. -- Herald file photo.

It was not a banner year for Prince Albert real estate in 2018.

According to the latest figures released by the Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors (SRAR), which also represents realtors in Prince Albert, the total sales activity both inside and outside the city is at its lowest point since before 2010.

Last year, 330 homes were sold in Prince Albert. That’s down from the 397 total sales in 2017 and well back of the 560 sales made in 2010.

New listings were also down significantly, with sellers putting 724 houses up for sale in 2018. That’s down from 836 in 2017 and 936 in 2010.

The average house was on the market for 88 days in 2018, the same amount of time as 2017. The average price paid for a house in Prince Albert, $231, 452, was slightly up from the year before.

SRAR CEO Jason Yochim said a slumping economy and lack of consumer confidence are the primary reasons for the decline in activity. Even though people are gainfully employed, he explained, there isn’t enough job security to convince them to buy their first home and settle down, or invest in other real estate like cabins or vacation properties.

“I always like to say that in any market there’s a house that probably could have sold, but didn’t,” Yochim said. “It’s a matter of pricing it to the market, because there are always people looking and if they feel that the market isn’t reflected in that price, then they may not make that purchase.”

December was a particularly rough month for sales activity. Only 10 houses were sold in the final month of 2018. That’s well down from the 27 houses sold in December 2017, and slightly down from the 15 houses sold in December 2016.

New listings were also down significantly in December. Only 21 new houses were put up for sale, compared to 30 during the same time last year.

Yochim said that’s a significant drop for the market.

“We knew that things have been challenging across the province, and especially in Prince Albert, but we didn’t really know how that would fare until the end of the month came around.”

Things weren’t much better outside of the city either. Statistics for the “Prince Albert City and Region” amounted to only 496 sales in 2018. At total of 602 sales were made in 2017, with 638 made in 2016.

New listings were also down significantly with 1,270 in 2018 compared to 1,458 in 2017. The average house was on the market for roughly 102 days last year, compared to 98 in 2017 and 89 in 2016.

Yochim anticipates a slow start to the housing market in 2019, although he remains optimistic conditions will improve long-term.

“I don’t think we’ll see a bounce back too soon in 2019,” he said. “I hope we will. I’m optimistic that we will, but until there’s some tangible changes economically, I don’t know what would drive that.”