Fort McMurray’s New Listings

You may be searching for your forever home, or perhaps you plan to stick around for just a few years and are just sick to death of paying rent. Maybe that Syncrude or Suncor money is burning a hole in your pocket (housing benefits).

You may also be wondering, “where are all the listings?!”.

Let’s say you’re ready to retire, so you’re thinking of selling. The likeliest thought you might be having is “is now a good time to sell?”. Not compared to the past, but compared to the future. What should you do to maximize your return and minimize your stress?

In this short blog, I’ll try to give as much info as possible to help you. The interpretations of any MLS® data used are my own and don’t reflect the opinions of the Fort McMurray Real Estate Board or its members. There is plenty of my opinion in here, but the data we are using is super accurate….

A Changing Market

We have lower inventory on the market this year than we did last January.

I’ll show you what I mean…

When we’re studying the market, we regularly study the same area: urban Fort McMurray1. In the table below, we see that the total number of all property types (less vacant lots) listed on the Fort McMurray MLS® has fallen:

Inventory of Homes listed on the Fort McMurray MLS® (Urban Areas)

This is a natural process: Demand was reduced by approximately 50% as a result of the oil market slump, which caused prices to slip over time, and so supply has reacted by bringing fewer homes to the market (owners now find it relatively harder/less desirable to sell). In turn, the outlook for prices becomes less negative as the gap between supply and demand is closing.

What does this mean for you as a buyer? Well, this year you might already be finding that you have less choice.

If you are looking for a handyman special, you’re still probably having a really easy time, because of those 517 listings, a lot of them are fixer-uppers (close to 20% are foreclosures or court sales). But if you are looking for a real gem, especially in the lower price ranges, you may be starting to struggle.

In general, you may feel less relaxed generally when looking for homes as you would have in recent years as there is the same (or greater) volume of buyers to compete with, but for fewer listings.
Let’s say you’re thinking of selling your home. When’s best? Well, a lot of that depends on your view of the future and your view of the oil market, interest rates, employment, etc. But there are a few things we know:

Generally, if you have a quality product, especially one in a non-luxury price range, with proper placement, we will be able to generate a significant amount of interest for you due to the accuracy of our pricing and our powerful marketing. Even during the darkest times of the last 3 years, we didn’t struggle to sell homes, so now we get to leverage that marketing power in a different way: Careful, premium pricing.

This spring, there’s reason to get to the market early, as we know there are hungry buyers out there already. We are still in a buyer’s market (prices falling slightly), so there’s possibly still some added incentive there, too. It’s hard to say though, as prices tend to rise in balanced markets in the spring months. The best answer is “it depends on what you have”, so it’s a good idea to request tailored advice from one of our specialist listing agents.

When Will New Listings Come On The Market?

Right about now (the funk soul brother).

Here’s a chart:

Chart: New MLS® Listings in Urban Fort McMurray (Not Including Lots)

As you can see, in the last quarter of each year, the market tends to produce very few listings, but from January to July, our market typically produces at least 150 new listings a month. Buyers can rest assured that there will be fresh inventory this year, so one of the messages is “don’t panic”. Just be aware that if we transition from a buyer’s market to a balanced market, then you’re just going to want to tweak your strategy a bit.

Our buyer’s agents are highly trained in working with you from consultation to key-release to find and secure the best properties for the best possible prices. Through their wit and experience, they have access to homes not currently listed on the MLS®.

Another thing to remember is that we just went through Q4, which typically is when we see a lot of expiries. Many of these homes will now be re-listed with more accurate pricing:

Chart: Expired MLS® Listings in Urban Fort McMurray (Not Including Lots)

Summary: Not Where, but When?

We have seen that there are two broad trends to watch:

  • The market is slowly balancing
  • Seasonal trends

If you are active in the market as a potential buyer or seller of a Fort McMurray property, then you’re going to want to keep an eye on both of these. We’ll keep you posted in the blog on the balancing process, but it is advantageous to have a connection at The A-Team who can give you way better advice when they know the ins and outs of your situation.

Regarding the time of year (and this message is especially directed at potential home buyers): Even during the winters of the bust (2014, 2015, 2016), we struggled to find quality inventory. More and more good homes are being listed every day. So far, for example, we have seen 57 non-lot listings come to market in the urban area we study. For example, our team is listing 5-10 homes over the next two weeks, and they’re nice places.
So it’s not so much where are all the listings, as when will they appear. Listings come to market:

i) In the first two quarters.
ii) When prices incentivize people to list.

In light of b), I think it’s a good idea to end on a cautionary note for potential home sellers. We do know a lot of potential sellers who, if market prices were any higher, would list their homes for sale. It’s a reminder that this correction has been extremely painful for homeowners and serious for the town. After large corrections like this, the market that often comes after a buyer’s market, is a balanced market. Only time will tell though and there is so much we don’t know.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading: If you enjoy our blogs, please consider sharing and subscribe to the newsletter.

Tom Albrecht

Tom Albrecht

Tom Albrecht leads The A-Team with his wife, Breanna, and is a Buyer’s Agent. He holds a Masters in Economics for Developing Countries from The University of Oxford.
Tom Albrecht

Footnotes

  1. For the purpose of this blog: Urban Fort McMurray is defined as Abasand, Beacon Hill, Dickinsfield, Downtown, Eagle Ridge, Grayling Terrace, Gregoire Park, Henning Ridge, Parsons North, Prairie Creek, Stone Creek, Thickwood, Timberlea, Waterways and Wood Buffalo