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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Taste of Today's Edmonton Housing Market

There is no better position to be in right now in Edmonton, than to be selling your home. There are half as many listings as there were at this time last year, and twice as many people wanting to relocate here. We have clients trying to buy homes, offering list price or higher and continually missing out in multiple offer situations.

It is a frenzied feeling out there, one in which you definitely want experienced representation. We recently helped clients purchase a privately listed home, on which there were multiple offers; all other buyers were not professionally represented and our client won out, at well under current market value. In the few days while conditions were being removed the seller had 40 other people interested in the property and was hoping our buyers would back away. Our buyer definitley won in that situation, and had the seller been represented they would likely have gotten far more money for their property.

Ok...enough about that...Here are some exerpts from an article in the Edmonton Sun today called Hot Housing Market Leaves Out-of-towners Out of Luck. This really demonstrates how challenging the market is right now...

Already stoked by hot demand, the Edmonton real estate market is now being fired on the supply side by fewer homes on the selling block. The inventory of listed homes has fallen by nearly half from last March, to 2,333 units versus 4,444 a year ago, says the Edmonton Real Estate Board.

Re/Max realtor Pat Liviniuk blames the shortage on an influx of newcomers, and on construction delays in building new houses, which mean buyers are staying in their old homes longer, keeping them off the market.

"We have four to five buyers going for each home and people who are relocating, unless they're here sitting with me 24/7 to get into these houses, they have no chance," Liviniuk said.

Eric Nielsen, who moved here recently from Calgary, quickly discovered how tough it was going to be to buy a home in Edmonton. They wanted an executive home with three bedrooms up, two bathrooms and enough room to raise any future children in a nice neighbourhood close to good schools and a short commute to downtown jobs.

After spending eight months viewing nearly 100 homes and writing five offers, the couple finally found a house for $5,000 above the listed price in the upscale Glenora neighbourhood. It's still not their dream house, but it will do for now, says Nielsen.

"You can do it in just a day or two but you're not going to get what you want," Nielsen said.

Relocations are a growing segment of Edmonton real estate buyers. Alberta's population grew by 25,100 people in the final three months of 2005 -- a high not seen since the oil boom of 1979-80 and more than five times the national average, according to Statistics Canada.

Royal LePage Relocation Services noted: "We've seen almost 100 per cent growth in relocations to Alberta or in Alberta in the last three years," said Tim Verbic, director of business and marketing for Royal LePage.

While not as hot a market as Calgary, the prices and shortage of houses in Edmonton still shocks many newcomers, especially those from cooler markets, said Liviniuk.

For those relocating, it's often a matter of coming in for four or five days, powering through homes and putting an offer on the best of the lot, she said.

The Nielsens tried that, but after looking in vain on two weekends, they decided to rent a house they found on one trip and based their search from there.

Nielsen advises other newcomers to find a realtor by referral, as he eventually did, and ask about the neighbourhoods the agent specializes in.

"And I'd just pull the trigger," Nielsen said. "Instead of thinking about it, if I saw something that was even the least bit reasonable, I would have just bought it. Just act fast."

Finding a home in Edmonton's frenzied housing market is becoming increasingly competitive. The unusual numbers tell the story:

- Brisk sales: In March, homes sold in an average of only 19 days, a record. A year ago the average was 40 days.

- Rising prices: The average price for a single-family dwelling hit $256,159, up 18.5 per cent from last year.

- Date Edmonton hit $1-billion mark in sales in 2006: March 21

- Date to hit $1-billion mark in sales in 2005: April 19

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