Market Update April 15/16

May 05, 2016

Market Update – Sales in Lacombe in the first two weeks of April were off to a much better start than last month and the number of pending sales suggests a good finish to the month as well. The number of active listings is also up, but only slightly higher than they were a year ago. And, almost 50% of the increase in listings came from the $450,000 + price range where activity is slower.

Lacombe continues to be a market where the active listing count remains relatively steady. At this point we haven't seen the above average increases like we have seen in other central Alberta markets. That trend should bode well for the market keeping supply and demand closer to balance.

The overall central Alberta market is behaving the way we would expect in an economy suffering low energy prices and higher than normal unemployment. Sales are slightly lower and the listing count is higher, creating an imbalance and finally an advantage for buyers.

There is no question this is the right time to be looking to purchase your first home or make a move up. The stars of low interest rates, many homes to choose from and a stable price environment are lining up to create an exceptional opportunity. Those who wait for the exact bottom of the market may wistfully look back at this time and wonder why they didn't see the opportunity.

Employment surges higher in March - Todd Hirsch, ATB Economics

Had this morning's jobs report come one week earlier, it would clearly have appeared to be an April Fool's Day joke, especially given the province's current economic woes. But according to the latest Labour Force Survey, a whopping 19,000 jobs were added in March—the highest monthly advance in employment in over two years.

With the gain in employment, the province's unemployment rate plunged from 7.9 per cent in February down to 7.1 per cent in March—matching the national average for the month.

The news gets even better—and more surprising. Of the 18,900 new jobs, the vast majority of them (14,500) were fulltime positions. And the sector that had been losing thousands of positions—the resource sector—actually eked out a small gain in total employment for the month. The only sector that continued to suffer major job losses was manufacturing (-7,900).

It is difficult to explain the surprising advance in Alberta's job market, particularly since there has been nothing else to suggest that the economy is showing signs of recovery. The only way to understand the data is to remember that the jobs report is survey research—it provides only an estimate. From month to month those estimates may undershoot or overshoot, and it's dangerous to read too much into one single month. Taking a longer time perspective, Alberta's job market is less surprising—fewer people are working than a year ago, especially in oil and gas.

Today's job report was encouraging, but it's still far too soon to call the downturn over.


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