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Sales activity in Alberta remains sluggish as Calgary and Edmonton struggle, but some smaller markets gained ground last month, numbers reported by the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) suggest.

While the 4,203 units that changed hands in the province last month on the resale market account for a 12-percent drop from last year, increases were observed in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, and Central Alberta.

“However, it is only Grande Prairie that has seen sales return to levels that are more consistent with long-term averages,” reads a statement posted to the Canadian Real Estate Association’s webpage for AREA. Following another monthly increase this October, year-to-date activity in Grande Prairie is up 21 percent year-over-year to a total of 2,352 home sales. The average price for October was $310,534.

Although activity in Central Alberta’s largest market, Red Deer, has been inching lower in recent months, sales are up 2 per cent annually. So far this year, home sales have climbed to 3,441 units, while the average price for a Central Alberta home was $288,924.

Fort McMurray has seen gains for seven straight months, including last month. But activity is still off long-term averages by 27 percent. From January to the end of October, 1,057 home sales have been recorded. Last month, Fort McMurray’s average home sale price hit $374,360.

Amid weakened employment prospects, concerns about the energy sector, and competition from new homes, Calgary and Edmonton’s markets continue to see sales totals well below previous highs.

No Alberta market has seen a bigger sales pullback than Calgary. This year, sales are down 13 percent in the city that has been hit with higher unemployment due to the faltering energy sector. According to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey, Calgary’s unemployment rate is 8.4 percent. Home values have remained on a downward trajectory, and in October the benchmark price of a home there was $426,300, a decline of 2.9 percent from a year ago, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board.

The Edmonton Region also saw a double-digit, year-over-year fall in sales. Sales totalled 1,399 for October, down 11 percent. Meantime, the average home price was $362,563. “Oversupply has been weighing on prices in Edmonton for most of the year,” reads the CREA webpage. “The year-to-date average price has eased by nearly two per cent compared to last year.

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