Alberta Housing Market Outlook Into 2012

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Housing Market Outlook 
 Date Released: Fourth Quarter 2011

Alberta Overview
Alberta’s housing starts are forecast to increase by 15.3 per cent to 29,200 units in 2012, following a 6.5 per cent decrease in 2011 to 25,325 units.
 These robust gains are a result of a number of factors. Firstly, the economy is projected to show relatively strong growth over the forecast period. In 2011, real gross domestic product is expected to rise by 3.1 per cent, followed by 3.5 per cent in 2012. Note, however, a pullback in oil prices during the summer, along with various wildfires, briefly slowed economic conditions, but these effects have dissipated.
 Secondly, employment growth is projected at 3.4 per cent in 2011, lowering the unemployment rate from 6.5 per cent to 5.6 per cent. By 2012, the unemployment rate is expected to be lowered to 5.1 per cent. As a result, this will put upward pressure on Alberta’s housing sector.


Finally, the demographic outlook for Alberta is positive. With an improving economy generating jobs, it is expected more migrants will choose Alberta as their home. Last year was a 15-year low for migration to Alberta.


Moving forward, expect significant growth in migration this year with further gains in 2012. These gains are also expected to put upward pressure on the demand for housing within the province.


In Detail


Single Starts: Single-detached starts are projected to decline about ten per cent in 2011, as builders mitigate the risk of rising inventories. Over the balance of the forecast period, demand for single-detached homes will improve with a growing economy and job creation. In 2012, single-detached starts are expected to rise by over 15 per cent to 18,400 units. The number of single-detached units under construction in August was at approximately half the level reported five years ago. However, with the inventory of complete and unabsorbed units up from the previous year, builders have been cautious about expanding production.


Multiple Starts: More affordable condominium projects are now competing with the resale market and enticing some renters to move into new condominium units. After a slow start to this year, the pace of multi-family starts has picked-up and is expected to edge past last year’s level of production. In 2012, demand is expected to improve with rising incomes and new household formation, raising the level of multi-family production by 14.6 per cent to 10,800 units.


Resales: The number of MLS® sales in Alberta is projected to increase by over six per cent in 2011 to 52,800 units. In 2012, MLS® sales are projected to rise to 53,900 units.


Prices:   Most of Alberta’s major urban centres remain in buyers’ market conditions as indicated by a sales-to-new listings ratio that has fluctuated around 50 per cent this year. The average resale price in 2011 is expected to rise fractionally above last year’s average, with much of the price movement attributed to compositional effects. As Alberta’s economy generates employment and attracts more migrants, demand will rise and improve market balance. The average resale price in Alberta is projected to rise by more than two per cent in 2012 to $362,700.
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