Pick up in activity for Calgary’s luxury home market

Numbers in real estate will tell you one part of the story but the word –  and experience on the street – is another thing.

That’s what realtors are finding these days when it comes to Calgary’s luxury home market – homes priced above the $1-million mark.

Year-to-date sales – up to the end of April – of $1-million-plus properties totaled 204 transactions, which is down slightly from 211 during the same period a year ago, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board.

“It’s been interesting. I’ve found the luxury market hasn’t been as quiet as everybody thinks,” says Joel Semmens, a realtor with RE/MAX Real Estate (Central).

“I’m finding on the street – especially in the inner-city – it’s very busy. I’ve worked on five deals all over $1 million in the last two months and four or five of those have been in bidding wars. We’ve had to fight to get the property. So it shows me there’s definitely demand. It’s location specific. So if it’s the right property, the right big yard, right house, then there’s demand for sure. It’s got to be something special. But for special product, buyers are coming out of the woodwork.”

Luxury home sales are definitely tied to the overall economy.

When Calgary’s economy was in overdrive in 2013 and 2014, sales at the higher end of the residential real estate market totaled 726 and 847, respectively.

But sales dipped to 511 in 2015 when the recession started to ripple throughout the city. Sales bounced back to 607 in 2016, despite another year of a recession, and 678 last year when the economy showed signs of recovery.

“I think the fundamentals in Calgary are pretty strong. Oil’s trending nicely again. We’re not having mass layoffs. Personally I think 2015 was like the year of doom and gloom because everybody was getting laid off and any time you get mass layoffs consumer confidence gets shaken,” says Semmens.

“And that’s what happened in 2015 and 2016. I found 2017 in the high end the best year I’ve had in a long time. I did four transactions over $3 million in 2017 and a lot of transactions over $2 million. That was an unbelievable year compared to 2015 and even 2016. In my opinion, the market was actually very strong last year. The only reason it’s been slow this first quarter is we had a lot of snow, a lot of ice, a lot of bad weather and really bad mortgage rule changes. Calgary in my opinion was just starting to swim again and it took us back to treading water because of the mortgage rule changes.”

In the last month, though, Semmens says the market in Calgary has started to see some life.