Star Phoenix, March 3, 2016- The last time Tina Jackson and her husband Mike put a house up for sale, Saskatoon’s real estate market was “going crazy.”
Their home was viewed 12 times in the first three days before selling for above the asking price on the fourth day. Eight years later, the couple is now learning what it’s like to sell a house in a buyer’s market.
“Nothing. Nobody’s come to look at it … Nobody’s called. I’m not really sure (why),” Tina Jackson said of the two-storey, three-bedroom Westview house, which she and her husband bought in 2008 for $350,000 and listed for $399,000 on Feb. 1.
Jackson said she and her husband are selling because they want to move to Martensville until their children finish school, at which point they’ll start looking for an acreage. They want to move this summer, but that possibility looks less likely every day.
“I know some people that are listing their houses under market value just to sell it, and they’re going to lose money,” Jackson said, adding that while she and her husband have already slashed their asking price by $10,000, they haven’t considered selling at a loss or boosting the property’s appeal with expensive improvements.
The Jacksons are not the only people in Saskatoon struggling to sell their homes.
The city’s sales-to-listings ratio, an industry benchmark that measures the balance between supply and demand, fell to 30.9 per cent last month, meaning there was roughly one sale for every three new listings, according to data from the Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors (SRAR).
“A 40 per cent or less sales-to-listings ratio means that you’re in a buyer’s market … We’re at 31 per cent right now, so we’re firm into a buyer’s market,” said SRAR CEO Jason Yochim.
That means prospective buyers, who tend to be well-informed, have more options, more time, and more room to negotiate. The cost of housing in Saskatoon has already started falling, with the composite home price index slipping three per cent to $301,600 — its lowest point in three years — last month, Yochim said.
“It’s always price,” he said. “In any market, strong or weak, people need to buy and people need to sell, so if homes are sitting longer, it’s because they’re not sensitive to where that price is — they’re trying to get a little bit more and it’s pushing them above what the (buyer) feels that the home is worth.”
Norm Fisher, a veteran real estate agent and owner-broker at Royal Lepage Vidorra, said that, with a few exceptions, the market is favouring buyers. He added that while the city’s shift from a seller’s to a buyer’s market can be attributed to the provincial economy, which has been battered by falling commodity prices, the situation is far from dire.
“I think it’s going to be another challenging year for sellers overall,” Fisher said. “(But) I don’t expect sales to drop out. I think we’re going to follow a very typical cycle through the year, where we’ll see sales increase each month through the spring — and we’ll probably be fairly close to last year’s numbers in terms of unit sales.”