Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on the central Alberta real estate market in just two short months. Sales in April were down 48% compared to April 2019. We started the year optimistic that the market was turning around after five difficult years in a row, but Covid conspired against us and we have a new challenge to overcome. Covid-19 shut down the world economy and the energy industry with it. Oil prices have hit record lows and will probably be a bigger challenge for Alberta than the Covid pandemic.
In spite of all the negatives, showing activity seems to be picking up since word came out that some of the restrictions to normal activity are being lifted. There are many opinions on whether it is too soon, just the right time or too late. Everyone has experienced this thing differently and only time will tell who is right. We respect all views and are dedicated to professionally and safely solving our clients housing needs.
Alberta still owns the 4th largest oil reserves in the world and they will be needed in the future. While things look bleak now, we continue to be confident that the future of Alberta is bright.
Sales in central Alberta in the first two weeks of April were down 33% compared to the first two weeks in March. Real estate sales always lag changes in the economy. The sales record in March were mostly the result of activity in January and February. The sales recorded in April are mostly the result of activity in February and march. It stands to reason that sales will be fewer as we move through the next few months while our economy is effectively shut down.
The number of active listings is lower than normal for this time of year and is obviously also a product of Covid-19. That does help the market stay closer to balance and will keep prices from falling too hard. The real estate market is certainly going to feel the pain of the reality we are dealing with, but it will survive. Housing will always be essential in Alberta.
The provincial government has designated our services as essential and we are still doing business. We are learning quickly how to do it in the new era of social distancing and virtual contract. We are now capable of virtual open houses, virtual client meetings and virtual signing. Those who need us can be assured that we are being careful to conduct our business, being respectful of our client’s health and well-being.
Real estate sales in March were surprisingly resilient when it came to the final numbers. While it seems like the Covid-19 issue has been going on forever, it has just been a month since it has really impacted us. Many of the sales reported in March were started before the panic and some of those who sold then, now have to buy. We expect sales to slow incrementally as the pandemic progresses.
Real estate services have been deemed essential by the Provincial Government. We continue to work but are doing so with the utmost caution and concern for our client’s health and safety. We have implemented protocols for both buyers and sellers that include questioning about symptoms, travel and exposure as well as procedures for showing that include wearing gloves, covering faces and not touching anything. We are also asking our sellers to clean surfaces before and after showings. And, we don’t travel in the same vehicle as our clients.
Like everyone else, we have no idea how long this will last or the total effect it will have on the economy. We know there is an end out there where we can all get back to normal. In the meantime, we are going to make the best of the situation and continue to serve our clients and the community the best we can. If people are quarantined or unable to get out for essentials, please contact one of our offices in Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Lacombe, Ponoka, Blackfalds, Rocky Mountain House or Innisfail and we will gladly help with pick up and delivery free of charge.