August sales in Ponoka were up dramatically from July’s, while the active listing count is down compared to last month, moving the market a little closer to balance. Sales in most other central Alberta markets were also better in August, bringing year to date sales in line with the same period last year.
One month doesn’t make a market, but the improvement certainly suggests we are turning the corner. There haven’t been any highly visible events that point to the change, but strong GDP growth in both the Canadian and Alberta economies suggest there is potential for continued recovery. Unfortunately, a strong Canadian economy may cause another bump in the Bank of Canada rate which will trigger another jump in mortgage rates. Tougher mortgage qualifying requirements imposed by the federal government combined with a rate increase would be detrimental to our fragile housing market recovery.
Oil prices remain subdued, moving up and down just under the $50US benchmark, but seem to be just sufficient to keep activity up in the energy sector. Capital investment budgets in that sector are likely to be trimmed a little going into fall and winter and only the most cost efficient projects are moving ahead. We are cautiously optimistic.