Drumheller’s real estate market is slowing along with the rest of the province’s, with total sales numbers for the area down over 8 per cent, says a report from the region’s realtors association published this month.
The Realtors Association of South Central Alberta reports average sales prices in the region fell 8.2 per cent over last year’s figures, with Drumheller’s average house price dropping 23 per cent, down to $200,019 compared to $259,317 from the same time last year. So far, 2016 has seen 44 sales to date, compared to 48 sales in 2015, nearly a 10 per cent drop.
The report contributes the drop in Drumheller house prices to the sale of several older homes on the market, but local realtors acknowledge real estate in Drumheller is going through a market adjustment where lower priced homes are outselling higher end properties.
“Yes, people are more cautious and certainly it’s a buyer’s market, but those market trends change depending on supply and demand,” said Century 21 Realtor Karen Bertamini.
“Right now there are fewer buyers typically, and some have moved down a range. You’ve got fewer buyers at the higher end.”
Re/max Realtor Ian Cassels sees the impact of jobs in the oil and gas sector contributing to the market downturn.
“People are a little worried about their jobs and it doesn’t look like a lot is being sold,” said Cassels.
Drumheller’s numbers are in line with province-wide figures signifying a drop in home sales, running 10 per cent below the first half of 2015 according to the Alberta Real Estate Association, with only the bigger centres of Calgary and Lethbridge seeing average residential prices increasing slightly over last year.
While numbers are down, Bertamini feels the diversity of Drumheller’s local economy, with tourism, agriculture, oil and gas, and major federal and provincial employers in the penitentiary and hospital, offers greater stability than other centres have.
“Those sectors are very strong sectors. When one fails, typically the rest of them will carry.”
“We have seen a shift, there’s no doubt about that,” she said. “Across the province is feeling hits from the recession, but in my opinion Drumheller hasn’t felt as much. Our middle end has picked up. People may have moved $50,000 down in a house purchase, but it seems to be very strong, and people are still purchasing. There’s people moving in and out of our community.”
Realtor Bob Sheddy of rentdrumheller.ca said Drumheller rents have dropped approximately $25 per month from the same time last year, which has helped attract renters coming from bigger centres.
“We have a relatively low supply of rentals and with the downturn some residents have sold their homes and moved into rental properties,” he said. “Drumheller is also more affordable to live, so we are seeing Albertans moving to Drumheller from more expensive cities.”
“We don’t have the big busts and booms like the major centres, yes we’ve lost some good jobs, but we’re not that bad off,” said Cassels.
But is it a buyer’s market?
“It’s hard to quantify that because you can see there has been a drop at the higher end because there are less buyers. I would call it a market adjustment,” said Bertamini.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a buyer’s market,” said Cassels. “It’s just an average market right now.”