The story of Swift Current's housing market during 2018 seemed to be a high number of properties on the market.
Offering a look into the realty industry in Swift Current, Kelsey Adam, who manages a team of realtors for Century 21, gave insight into trends that he saw within Swift Current's housing market last year.
Adam said that this time of year presents a good opportunity to look back at what the market has done.
"Everyone always asks, 'What's the real estate market doing?" the former Century 21 Sales Manager said. "At the end of the year is a good time to let everybody know what's been going on."
Adam said that Century 21 does almost 50 per cent of the realty business in Swift Current, giving him and the company the ability to look at citywide trends.
A factor in Swift Current's realty sector this year was the amount of property on the market, or 'inventory,' something Adam said he had never seen more of.
"Anybody following real estate knows that we have had more inventory in our market over the last number of years than we've had previously, I've been doing this for 20 years now, and this is the highest amount of inventory I ever remember being on the market."
While the number of houses coming onto the market did not see a significant increase compared to previous years, a lack of buyers caused a large amount of inventory, according to Adam.
"This past year we had 542 homes come onto the market, which, when you look at last year being 534 or the year before that being 521, it's not a large difference in and of itself. But when you couple that in a 12-per-cent reduction in sales, then that means that the listings are starting to accumulate."
Regarding sales, Adam said that 246 plots, multi-family units, and single-family homes were sold in Swift Current in 2018. He added that the last time that Swift Current's real estate market saw that number under 250 was in 2010.
Adam said that he thinks this trend may continue to this year, but said that signs indicated that 2020 might change that cycle.
A factor in the large amount of inventory is also a factor that Adam said could lower inventory in the coming year - that factor being age.
Explaining the factor, Adam stated that an influx of seniors homes in the area was prompting the elderly to move into them, skipping a practice common in previous years of moving into a condo, with more elders instead moving to a care facility.
On the other end of the spectrum, Adam said as the baby boomers start to leave the housing market slowly, millennials will flood in, ready to purchase their first houses.
While prices have stuck along a three-year average according to Adam, something that he said would most likely influence the younger buyers is the fact that a buyer's market is positively impacted by the amount of inventory on the market, forcing sellers to give closer-to-market-value prices.
"Those asking prices now have to be just a little sharper in the pencil, people have to be understanding that they're not going to be able to pay it by an extra $20,000 or $30,000, you have to be fairly precise on your pricing strategies when you have a lot of inventory on the market."
Adam said the affordability of rental properties may later spur amounts of millennials buying houses, but stable interest rates might also influence them to become homeowners.
Another trend that Adam pointed out was that specific price ranges for property were selling less, something that he attributes to Swift Current drawing in more blue-collar workers rather than those with higher-paying jobs.
"We're not attracting companies to town who are bringing in managers and CEOs, we're attracting companies who are bringing in blue-collar workers, and so a lot of that trend is affecting the mid and the higher-priced homes."
Again looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, Adam said that immigrants are filling a gap in the housing market and overall improving it.
"They're not all assembly line workers or servers at Tim Hortons, don't get me wrong, but they have been very happy with some of the homes that have been looked over by other buyers, and have purchased homes that are in more-affordable neighborhoods, so overall, they've been really good for certain price ranges in the city."
While population is growing, Adam said that it would most likely take a while for new additions to the city to purchase houses, unless they were coming for well-paying jobs.
"[Increasing population] tends not to affect the real estate market for a while, because when someone is new to town it may take them six months, it may take them a year. If they're an immigrant moving into town it may be even longer before they can purchase a home. But if we were to have some increased industry, increased employment opportunities in Swift Current that are bringing in people for jobs, we would certainly see some of these homes coming off the market."
The average market price last year was $274,000, which Adam says is keeping in line with Swift Current's three-year average.