Housing sales reach new record highs

Okotoks: Supply dwindling for single family homes

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 11:28 am

Hunter Irwin with Dogfish Custom Concrete prepares to prep a home under construction with rebar in the neighbourhood of Mountainview in Okotoks on July 22.
Hunter Irwin with Dogfish Custom Concrete prepares to prep a home under construction with rebar in the neighbourhood of Mountainview in Okotoks on July 22.

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People are continuing to flock to Okotoks and sold signs are popping up at houses listed for sale in town at a record pace.

The second quarter of 2014 saw a new high for the number of homes sold in Okotoks, with 272 units sold between April and June. It’s a 35 per cent increase from this time last year.

Calgary Real Estate Board president Bill Kirk said people are moving out of the city and heading to smaller communities for the lifestyle change.

“There are city people and there are country people, and we're seeing that there's a demand in the market for both of those folks and that’s always going to be there, that’s the reason we have Okotoks,” he said. “And, the product isn't available in the numbers or choice you'd like to see in the Calgary area, so some people will make the choice to move outwards to get more of what they want.”

Realtor Brad Pond said the number of people hoping to make their way out to Okotoks has kept him busy.

“I can't tell you how many Calgarians I talk to in a week who say 'we really like Okotoks, we would move out there,'” he said. “We're so close to Calgary and we've got all the amenities out here.”

Supply for single-family homes is dwindling in the city, leaving families to turn to the outskirts for a solution, but they’re encountering the same problems in Okotoks. The quarterly report from CREB said the pace of sales growth continued to far exceed new listings in town.

With the town’s future water supply in question, new building permits aren’t being issued until the lots are serviced, and there are only 300 lots serviced lots ready for construction available at the moment, which is less than half of what was available at this time in 2012.

“We have a couple of subdivisions that are servicing lots so we should see that inventory come on in the fall in the third quarter,” said Okotoks safety codes officer Rob Mueller. “There's more inventory coming, but we are at less inventory than we were at the same time last year.”

While there are some lots zoned for duplexes or multi-family units, Mueller said the majority is for single-family homes.

Kirk said the lack of available single-family homes will leave Okotoks with the same issues Calgary has when it comes to families looking to move.

“If those are all single family lots then there you have your ceiling on single family and the surrounding towns would take the overflow,” Kirk said. “We would have the same problem in Okotoks as we have in Calgary, where if you're looking at a single family product it's not going to be available in the numbers or selection you'd like.”

Pond said his biggest issue has been finding product for people as the inventory rate is low, and when demand is high and supply is low, it means prices are going up too. The benchmark average of a single-family home rose 5.65 per cent in the last year to $403,350.

“What I find is that anything certain family home under that 500 range, that's the stuff that's moving fast,” Pond said. “When you're out with buyers and they see a home that fits the bill, they almost have to jump on it because you know that there’s other buyers that are looking at those same properties.”

With supply dwindling, Kirk said sales in Okotoks might slow down a bit as Okotoks has always held restrictions on the numbers of lots being released at a time as part of their development philosophy.

“That’s a decision of the town. I think it adds to the character of Okotoks. People go to Okotoks because of the flavour of the town and that is a part of it.”


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