Sylvan Lake maintaining a stable housing market

There are 168 residential properties available in Sylvan’s current “buyer’s market”

Sylvan Lake currently has 168 residential properties available to purchase with 37 residential properties already sold in 2019.

Residential properties include houses, duplexes, vacant lots, mobile homes and anything that could be categorized as residential.

During the same timeframe in 2018, January to March, there were 41 residential sales.

“It’s reflecting a 10 per cent reduction in the volume of sales, but I can tell you that Sylvan over the last couple of years has maintained a pretty stable marketplace,” said Richard Pochylko, president of the Central Alberta Realtors Association.

Sylvan Lake is saturated on a per capita basis because there were more homes available then in Red Deer, for example.

Pochylko also explained prices for residential properties on reflecting a downward trend.

“[Since 2015] there’s been pressure on price [to come down] basically all across the Central Alberta region and Sylvan Lake is a part of that,” Pochylko said, adding forecasters and banks are figuring we may possibly see a minor uptake in pricing coming into 2020.

The average sale price of a house in Sylvan Lake in 2018 was $331,738, which was up “quite a bit” from 2017.

Pochylko says Sylvan Lake’s average numbers are a bit skewed due to small sample sizes.

He explains with small sample sizes, for example, with 300 properties being sold it can be skewed pretty easily with having a handful of more expensive homes being sold.

“Generally speaking across Central Alberta last year home prices were down approximately five per cent, but Sylvan shows a bit of an up-kick, but that’s a bit of an anomaly,” Pochylko said. “There could’ve been three or four or five of those very expensive lakefront properties that moved which would skew things up somewhat.”

The market is still a buyer’s market in the sense they have more power than the seller does in the negotiation process, explained Pochylko.

He says there is never a good time or a bad time to buy or sell, but now would probably a better time to be a buyer than a seller.

From 2015 to now sellers, generally, have lost anywhere from 10 to 20 per cent of their equity position in their home.

The 10 per cent will be people will less expensive homes because there is a bigger buyer pool, while the 20 per cent are they people with the more expensive house because fewer buyers are wanting to or cannot afford to spend that type of money on a home.

“I think for sellers it’s more about coming to terms with the fact that you cannot get what you could’ve gotten for your home three or four years ago and that you have to face reality and move on,” said Pochylko, adding most sellers will be turning around to purchase a new home.

“They’re also buying into a low market, so they’re selling for less, but they’re buying for less and whatever they’re losing now most likely will be picked up on the rebound on their second house,” continued Pochylko.

Pochylko thinks, generally speaking, the overall economic outlook for the province over the next two years is not very positive.

He says both the provincial and federal governments will need to take a different approach to housing than they currently are.

In the upcoming provincial election the party elected into power will need to have a type of housing strategy in place to help Albertans with a more local approach to mortgage rules, said Pochylko.

With the federal election also this year, Pochylko added there will “more than likely” be some changes made to the mortgage qualification processes or the rules for mortgage qualifications, which will “probably ease a little bit of the pain.”

“It’s been very difficult for a lot of first time home buyers to qualify and that is the foundation of the market and when you weaken the foundation of the market it really makes everything else sort of crumble,” Pochylko said.

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