Lifestyle changes have impacted the Canadian real estate market since last March when the global pandemic brought the nation to an abrupt standstill. People from coast-to-coast pivoted to remote work, virtual learning, and only leaving the confines of home for essential activities. Not surprisingly, this prompted a shift in opinion on what the “ideal home” is. While living close to work and entertainment once superseded the desire for more square footage, Canadians started to relocate from dense (and pricey) urban centres, taking advantage of their newfound ability to work – and live – from anywhere they choose. The Lethbridge real estate market is one of the benefactors of this trend.
Coming off a hot 2020 year, the Lethbridge housing market has been steadily heating up as 2021 progresses. In fact, back in March, Lethbridge was considered to be Alberta’s hottest housing market for 2021 and so far it has not disappointed.
This is a welcome adjustment considering just a few years ago, the city sat comfortably in a buyer’s market and was hopeful for a push in the upward direction. Dallas Harty, owner of RE/MAX Real Estate Lethbridge states, “Four to five, even six years prior to that we were in totally different conditions. We were in conditions that were favouring the buyer, there was lots of inventory to look at, there weren’t enough buyers, houses were sitting for a long time. Quite frankly, we were due for an uptick.”
Lethbridge Housing Market Burning Up All Summer
After phenomenal performance in 2020, the Lethbridge real estate market continued on its upward trajectory during the first half of 2021. As summer rolled on, it was expected that the market would remain hot, and those expectations were surpassed.
According to figures from the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA), during the month of July, Lethbridge housing sales set a record high for the month with 251 unit sales changing hands – an increase of 21.3 per cent year-over-year. Detached homes and apartments were the main market drivers, with 174 and 24 units being sold respectively during July 2021. Most notably, apartment/condo sales saw a 100-per-cent year-over-year increase when comparing July 2021 to that of 2020.
The month of July led to a tightening of the real estate market in Lethbridge, Alberta as new listings were down to 234 units. While this wasn’t enough of a drop-off to change the month of inventory value, which held strong at two months, it further tightened the market and pushed residential prices even further north.
After a hot July, the month of August kept simmering. With a moderate drop of 23.4 per cent in regards to residential unit sales, August 2021 posted 190 sales. On a month-over-month basis this indicates the market may be less stressed, however a more accurate measure is a year-to-year unit sales comparison. Compared to August 2020, unit sales in August 2021 were up 18 per cent; on a long-term average basis, sales were above both the five- and 10-year averages for the month of August.
Year-to-date sales for the large Alberta city are still on pace for a new record for yearly sales. Come the end of August, unit sales totalled 1,675 – a 55-per-cent gain over the first eight months of 2020.
Prices in the city actually saw a decrease during the month of August compared to last year, which could be attributed to the slight month-over-month and 10 per cent year-over-year increase in new listings. The average price of a detached dwelling sold during August decreased by six per cent compared to last August, coming in at $344,490. However, the average price of a row/townhouse increased 53 per cent from August 2020 to 2021, totalling $316,901. On a year-to-date the average sale price of a home in Lethbridge increased six per cent in 2021 compared to the first eight months of 2020.
What to Expect in the Lethbridge Real Estate Market
Moving forward, the Lethbridge real estate market is expected to remain in red-hot seller’s market territory. Lethbridge has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Alberta, and with housing prices well below the national average, it is an ideal place for those looking settle down in a city with ample employment opportunities, affordable real estate, a lower cost of living, and easy access to urban amenities. Oh, and lest we forget the Rocky Mountains in your backyard!