It’s a seller’s market for Prince Albert real estate

At the same time, the number of listings has reduced 20 per cent to reach an all-time low.

As of the end of May, the benchmark price in Prince Albert was $246,600.

While the top selling price range continues to be homes between $200,000 and $300,000, one anomaly is seen in homes valued over $500,000.

“Last year at this time, there was a total of 12 sales where this year to date we’re at 27 sales at 500,000 plus. So, a lot of our market and a lot of our numbers are based around some of those premium sales,” Honch said.

Home buyers looking at more costly builds don’t fit any single demographic, he pointed out. They can be people upgrading their existing home, or people moving from Ontario and British Columbia that are used to very high prices where a $600,000 home seems very affordable.

Honch said the movement of people leaving unaffordable markets is continuing a westward trend and Prince Albert is not exempt from that as both Canadian and immigrant populations increase in the city.

Many are professionals working in health care, RCMP or at one of the four prisons in and near the city.

“We see some business professionals, we see healthcare professionals, corrections and policing. You know the the industries that kind of support her city obviously with a large amount of employees in them and they are always going to be the catalyst here in Prince Albert for our market.”

The small drop in interest rates recently announced has not resulted in a flood of hopeful new buyers. Honch said people are likely waiting until the rates drop more, as they are predicted to do.

That may not mean a home is more affordable, however, if a flood of buyers decide to jump in at the same time, the prices will still go up.

What is missing from the market are entry-level buyers and construction of new homes.

Buyers starting out at the bottom of the scale are more likely to have felt the pinch of inflation and higher interest rates and do not yet have any equity built up to transfer to a new purchase.

Honch said a balanced real estate market is best for everyone, buyers and sellers and what is needed to help that out is more construction of single-family homes and rental units, like the apartments now being built in the West Hill along 28th Street.

Buyers, especially if they can afford it, seek out lower crime areas. In Prince Albert, that makes the South and West Hill areas, South Wood, Crescent Heights and Crescent acres. All are on the edges of the city.

“We see probably the majority of our sales in that area and it’s you know again a lot to do with proximity to certain schools and parks, but you know, we don’t see one area that is substantially more in transactions,” Honch said.

What is coming is a much bigger crunch in the housing market if more homes aren’t built though.

The expansion to the Victoria Hospital that started this spring and will be done in four years also means an extra 500 jobs in health care.

“One area that we’re lacking across the province – and we’re seeing an immense amount of new construction in other centers – I would love to see see more product coming to the market with new construction. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the big brand new $700,000 homes. You know, even just some affordable homes. You know, even if they were just a small footprint,” he said.

One of the ways to accomplish that would be for the city to lower its price on the residential lots it is selling to give builders more incentive.

“I think that would be great for our city, for the new construction to fill in those lots that are sitting there that we’ve already paid for in service that aren’t being built on.”

Most of the homes that have been built over the last three or four years have been constructed for specific owners.

Right now, one builder has started two ‘spec houses’ on Hadley Road in Crescent Acres but other than that, Honch said he is not aware of anyone else building new houses that will sell on the open market.

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