Photo: Royal Broil/Flickr

While Alberta home sales and prices trend lower and lower, conditions in some of the province’s smaller local real estate markets are picking up, and one northwestern city is head and shoulders above the rest.

Numbers from some markets, like South Central Alberta — where sales were up roughly 4 percent but only to a paltry total of 27 — are difficult to gauge. Low numbers are more prone to volatile swings, Ann-Marie Lurie, the Alberta Real Estate Associations chief economist, points out.

Lurie is, however, seeing more meaningful improvement in at least one of the province’s secondary markets: Grande Prairie. “Not only have we seen an improvement in sales, we’ve seen an improvement in pricing,” Lurie tells Livabl, also noting supply levels are shrinking as well.

In October, there were a total of 208 transactions recorded on Grande Prairie’s resale market, up about 15 percent from last year, while the roughly eight months of supply represents a nearly 16-percent dip. Meantime, the average price reached $310,534, a 14.5-percent increase over 12 months, according to AREA’s Monthly Statistics Package for October 2018.

The changes come at a time when employment in Grande Prairie has been growing stronger. Lurie notes that the local economy is less oil-based and more focused on liquid gas in particular. Low oil prices have roiled housing markets in Calgary and Edmonton, as energy-sector layoffs have reduced the number of prospective homebuyers, reducing demand.

Grande Prairie may be faring better than the biggest, oil-dependent markets, but Lurie suggests the market still has a ways to go. “They’re not at recovery stage,” she says. “They’re still not back to where they were.”

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