Positive Start to 2017 Home Sales
Home sales in January were cause for optimism for the year ahead with a 6% increase year over year. Home sales of 185 units last month represented the highest January total since 2014, the five-year average for January is 195. Another positive indicator is the number of homes available for sale. At the end of January, there was a combined total of 1,592 homes for sale in the Saskatoon market, representing the second lowest monthly total in almost two years. The lowest inventory level was December of 2016 with a total of 1,443 properties on the market. “An increase in sales in a typically quiet month is very encouraging” comments Jason Yochim, CEO of the Saskatoon Region Association of REALTORS® “especially in the wake of the tougher mortgage qualifications introduced last October.”
At current inventory levels, anticipating no increase in demand and no new properties listed for sale, it would take over eight months to liquidate the current inventory of properties. The five-year average for available inventory in the Saskatoon market is just under five months. The “sales to listing ratio” is an indicator of whether we are in a buyers or sellers’ market. It is determined by dividing the number of sales by the number of new listings for a period of time. When this ratio is at 50%, the market is considered balance. The last couple of years has favored buyers in the marketplace with an average sales to listing ratio of 40%. January typically has an uptake of listing activity and quieter sales activity which is reflected in a sales to listing ratio at 26%; the five-year average is 30%.
Homes priced below $400,000 saw a much-needed increase in activity compared to last January with 143 sales between $200,000 and $400,000, a 20% increase year over year. The average sale price for January of $341,800 represented a 4% decrease compared to last year. In 2016 a steady number of sales over $750,000 helped stabilize the average price in spite of a 5% decline in sales. This emphasizes that using an average to determine the true market picture is easily misleading. The median price for last month was $318,500 which was the lowest median price in almost five years. A more reliable indicator of the market is the MLS® Home Price Index® (HPI). It is considered to be the most accurate determinant of where a real estate market is trending. The HPI composite benchmark price has also been trending downward, although very slightly for several months.
In January, on average it takes 54 days to sell a home in Saskatoon which is consistent with the five-year average of 51 days. This compares to 45 days which is the average of the past 5 years. “In any market, a home that is priced to current market conditions should sell in even less time, often within a week or two.” comments Yochim. “Buyers are well educated on the market and are not fooled by optimistic sellers. However, they are willing to pay market price for the right home in any market. For homes that are selling, the sale prices are being realized within 97% of the asking price.”