Digging for deals in the winter real estate market
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The four-bedroom house at 10164 Manor Drive, in the Fairfield Island area of Chilliwack, was listed for $899,000 but sold for $865,000 in just 12 days on Dec. 5.zealty.ca

If you’re looking for a deal on real estate in a sluggish market there’s a lot of data to crunch. We’ve taken a look across the country at the places where there are deals to be had according to home price data from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Many, though not all, real estate markets in the country have seen modest price drops in the latter half of 2023, but in some areas, there’s been significant declines from recent all-time highs. “Bargain” hunters should be aware though that in almost every case prices are still up – mostly by double digits – from what was available just three years ago.

British Columbia

Starting in the west British Columbia prices are just starting to show some small month-over-month slippage with one area slipping faster than the others. The Chilliwack and District MLS Home Price Index was $721,900 in November, which is down 2.6 per cent from last month and is relatively flat year over year at about 0.5 per cent. In reality, there’s not a lot for sale in the $720,000 range unless you’re shopping for gut-teardowns and apartments, and certainly not detached homes even in the more rural parts of Chilliwack. CREA’s benchmark home price index for detached homes is $869,800, which is down 2.9 per cent from October, and down 5 per cent from the 2023 high of $915,800 in July. Where does $869,800 rate on the bargain meter? It’s down 21 per cent from the madness of February 2022, which was the most expensive month to buy in the area’s history with a benchmark of $1,103,200 (according to CREA’s data which goes back to 2005). There may be more room to shrink as well: while Realtor.ca recorded 77 residential listings in the area just before Christmas for sale between $800,000 and $900,000, there were only 12 sales in that range in the last 60 days according to Zealty.ca. Emblematic of this trend was the four-bedroom house at 10164 Manor Drive, in the Fairfield Island area of Chilliwack that was listed for $899,000 but sold for $865,000 in just 12 days on Dec. 5.

Alberta

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62 Carrington Rise N.W. in Calgary’s north side is an updated two-storey detached with four bedrooms and bathrooms for $649,999.PREP Realty Inc.

Moving east, don’t come to Calgary in search of bargains unless you’re looking for relative prices compared to other markets that still have a higher benchmark than Calgary’s $569,100. The rate of price growth has slowed over the last year but that benchmark is still 10.5 per cent higher than November 2022, which puts Calgary in the lead for year-over-year price growth out of the major regions CREA measures. The single-family benchmark was $652,200 in November, an all-time high for the city. Before Christmas, there were 343 listings for houses between $600,000 and $700,000 and an example of what the benchmark can get you is 62 Carrington Rise N.W. in Calgary’s north side, an updated two-storey detached with four bedrooms and bathrooms for $649,999.

Ontario

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346 Hickory Circle in Oakville is a four-bed, five-bath suburban home that needs a little updating.ROYAL LEPAGE PREMIUM ONE REALTY

According to CREA’s data, the most sustained price drops in the country have come in Ontario, with the “greater golden horseshoe” areas such as Hamilton, Cambridge, Milton and Mississauga posting year-over-year benchmark drops of about 2 per cent. Another thing November’s sales suggested was that folks who were selling were accepting considerably less than they did over the summer. The largest drop was in Milton-Oakville which saw the benchmark fall by 8.4 per cent from 6 months before and 8.5 per cent from three months before. The benchmark for all housing in that area is still $1.24-million, but the declines are most clearly seen in the detached market where the benchmark was $1.439-million in November, down 9.2 per cent from August and May indexes. Again, if you compare November’s price index to February 2022, the drop from the peak is a precipitous 20 per cent, but 2023 is still up 37 per cent from the pre-pandemic market of November 2019. A good example of what the current benchmark gets you is 346 Hickory Circle in Oakville, a four-bed, five-bath suburban home that needs a little updating. Initially listed for $1.549-million it was dropped to $1.459-million and eventually sold for $1.420-million in mid-December.

The southern Ontario region that has homes with the most significant discounts in real terms is Cambridge, with a detached home price index that’s half of Oakville’s for November: $744,900. Cambridge’s detached home index faced similar price slowness in 2023, but it’s also 25 per cent lower than its February 2022 peak of $999,200.

Nova Scotia

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An example of something selling in the current index range is 147 Atikian Drive, in Eastern Passage south of Halifax.Steve Geen/Keller Williams Select Realty

Prices in the Halifax-Dartmouth area also sliding according to CREA, with November’s benchmark of $527,300 for all home types down 2 per cent from three months ago. Unlike some of the other regions, CREA measures Halifax’s different home types cluster together in price with not a huge variation between detached homes, townhouses and apartments. Detached homes in the area crossed the $500,000 benchmark in January 2022, but unlike some parts of the country this new peak wasn’t an aberration, and while they’ve fluctuated the index hasn’t fallen lower than half a million since. With November detached prices at $536,100 (only 4 per cent lower than the February 2022 all-time high) buying in Halifax isn’t going to be steeply discounted, even in relative terms to some of the nearby markets like New Brunswick that retains some of the lowest cost housing in the nation.

An example of something selling in the current index range is 147 Atikian Drive, in Eastern Passage south of Halifax. According to ViewPoint.ca data the 17-year-old 3-bedroom house sold for $289,000 in 2018 and when it went up for sale in November 2023 it went through three price changes – from $559,900 to $545,900 to $539,000 – before selling conditionally for asking on Dec. 17.

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