Mon, 08 May by Dale Russell

The Sylvan Lake market has recovered nicely this year with sales in the first four months up 7.2% over the same time last year, although April was a little slower.  The year to date increase is in direct contrast to what is happening in some other central Alberta markets, including Red Deer, where sales for the same time are down year over year.  We would like to believe that the late spring weather is at least partially responsible for a little slower market and the recent sunny weather will bring an improvement.

What does the future hold?  As tough as the last two years have been, fortunately, it is looking brighter….  The Alberta Treasury Branch summed up the last two years in Alberta this way – Many Albertans felt it. And the latest numbers confirm it. Alberta’s economy contracted another 3.8 per cent in 2016. This follows a similar decline of 3.7 per cent in 2015.  It was the second consecutive year that real gross domestic product (GDP) contracted, the last time this happened was in 1982 and 1983….

The last couple of years have been tough for Albertans and the provincial economy. But it is expected to get better in 2017. ATB is forecasting real GDP growth this year in the two to three per cent range. This represents an end to two consecutive years of recession and welcomes in an era of modest growth.


Mon, 08 May by Dale Russell

SYLVAN LAKE: Year to date MLS sales in central Alberta are up 6.7% over the same period last year while sales for the same period in Sylvan Lake are up 12%.  It’s great to see Sylvan Lake finally catching up a little.

The Sylvan Lake market didn’t start off in April as well as it did last year.  The number of active listings is down a little while sales were off compared to the same time last year.  The comments below from ATB suggest that the economy is on the mend and some of our laid off workers are going back on the job.  All good news, but they probably won’t start buying houses right away.  The next few months will be used to catch up, pay bills and get some stability back in their lives.  Buying a home is probably at least a few months away.

That leaves those who have maintained their jobs through the recession.  Those who are thinking about a move would be well advised to do it soon, before those laid off workers get back on their feet.  The situation couldn’t be more perfect to buy – low interest rates with the threat of increases soon, lots of good inventory and a market where supply outweighs demand all spell “opportunity”.

Excerpts from The Owl, by ATB Economics

Manufacturing getting a lift from stronger oil prices ….another in a string of indicators that suggest Alberta is shaking off the recession and heading towards better days in 2017. In February, the value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta rose to $5.7 billion, an increase of 1.4 per cent over January.

The news is even better than that. From its lowest point during the recession in January of 2016, manufacturing shipments in our province have now increased by 15 per cent. That’s not quite enough to get it back to the pre-recession highs, but it has been steadily increasing over the last 12 months.

Production is Up!  While Alberta has oil reserves, it doesn’t mean they will be produced. Massive amounts of investment, expertise, creativity and technology are needed to locate, extract, transport and sell oil. This is a risky business that is subject to complex market forces and public policy.

In addition to those challenges, Alberta is landlocked and the oil trapped in the oil sands is not as easy to extract as conventional crude—factors which put us at a disadvantage when it comes to transforming our oil resources into viable business ventures.

Despite these challenges, Alberta produced 137 per cent more oil in 2015 than it did in 1985. In 2014, Alberta’s total annual production rose above one billion barrels for the first time and reached 1.1 billion barrels (3.1 million barrels per day) in 2015. Production fell in 2016 by 17 per cent as a result of the Fort McMurray forest fires but – barring another natural disaster — should fully recover and increase again in 2017.


Mon, 08 May by Dale Russell

Sylvan Lake sales in the first quarter of 2017 were up from the same time in 2016 by almost 35% (17 sales).  That is good news that supports the theory that the economy is finally turning the corner.  The price of oil has remained relatively stable and activity in the oil patch keeps picking up, so we are likely on the road to a better market as the year progresses.  We don’t anticipate price inflation any time soon though, because the real estate market always lags behind the economy, often by a year at least.

The active listing count is slightly lower than it was a year ago (more good news), but there should be ample product to satisfy most buyers, and interest rates remain very low, making this still a very good time to consider a purchase.

One of the reasons the Alberta housing market has survived as well as it has, in spite of what we’ve been experiencing here, is that net population losses have been minimal.  According to ATB’s The Owl, over the last five quarters of recession, we’ve suffered a net population loss of only 11,000 people.

Compare that with the 20 quarters leading up to the 4th quarter of 2015 when Alberta welcomed more than 133,000 net new people to Alberta.  So, in spite of all our recent troubles, Alberta is obviously still a great place to live.