ALBERTA

Fort McMurray Real Estate Sales Dove Almost 65 Per Cent In February: Report

03/24/2015 05:10 EDT | Updated 03/25/2015 12:59 EDT

Fort McMurray real estate sales are in freefall as the price of oil continues its downward slide.

Numbers released by the Fort McMurray Real Estate Board show that total sales there, along with the communities of Saprae Creek, Gregorie Lake and Anzac, plummeted by 64.7 per cent in February compared to a year ago.

(This number takes into account all housing types, including single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, condominiums and mobile units with land.)

Year-to-date sales figures aren't much more encouraging. Last year, 227 transactions had taken place as of February; this year, it's 94, for a drop of 58.6 per cent.

As well, the average price of a single-family detached home has also fallen from $789,740 to $746,202 in the same period.

The drop in sales was most pronounced among duplex properties, which fell 85.71 per cent last month compared to 2014. Sales of both townhouses and condos fell by half and mobile units dropped by 40 per cent.

But slow sales activity has not stopped owners from putting their homes on the market: year-to date new listings were only eight per cent lower in February compared to last year.

New listings within the month alone were 23.3 per cent lower this year than in 2014.

Duplex owners were most enthusiastic about throwing their homes on the market, as 77.78 per cent more of their units were put up for sale than last year. Listings of mobile units also grew by 28 per cent.

The drop in sales comes as the price of oil has been projected to fall to around US$40 per barrel, after sitting at around $75 since 2010.

Real Estate Investment Network senior analyst Don Campbell told The Calgary Herald that smaller communities in resource-driven areas such as Fort McMurray see more pronounced effects from economic booms and busts than the bigger cities.

"The housing markets themselves are smaller and therefore statistically a small increase or reduction in sales figures have a much more pronounced [effect] on housing market numbers," he told the newspaper.

But falling oil prices might not be the only culprit when it comes to Fort Mac's slumping real estate.

Area realtor Greg Walsh told The Huffington Post Alberta last year that it could also have to do with oil companies locating their employees at camps and flying them home to other parts of Canada, making it unnecessary for them to buy homes.

Meanwhile, in Calgary, home sales have hit a five-year low. They were down almost 40 per cent in January from the previous year.

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