Home sales were on the rise in August, with real estate agents counting 393 purchases, an increase of 76 per cent from the same month in 2008 when 223 home sales were recorded in the Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors' (SRAR) ledger.
"The increase in unit sales is just verifying the demand for residential housing in Saskatoon," said Harry Janzen, SRAR's executive officer.
Stable prices and solid homes to choose from gave homebuyers the confidence to move into the market in August, Janzen explained. The average selling price for a home in the city last month was $281,871, a figure similar to August 2008 when the average selling price was $279,722.
"Once we've had the stability that we've had now for the last four or five months in all areas -- interest rates, inventory, prices, that type of thing -- then consumers are usually willing to move forward," he said.
The average year-to-date selling price for a home in Saskatoon totals $278,129, according to SRAR's figures, a four per cent drop from the first eight months of last year when the year-to-date price totalled $288,924.
That $280,000 figure, Janzen explained, indicates the Saskatoon market is no longer undervalued, as it was in 2006, allows first-time homebuyers to enter the market and shows the range in the prices of homes that are being sold in the city.
Even more popular than houses in the $275,000 to $300,000 range, he said, are houses priced between $300,000 and $350,000, a trend that has been occurring in the city for some time.
"Certainly, demand dictates price and certainly the market is very active in the price range that we're seeing," he said.
With 1,148 homes on the market at the end of August, a 32 per cent drop from August 2008 when 1,676 homes were up for sale, Janzen expects inventory levels to continue to fall -- a move that will only help strengthen Saskatoon's residential real estate market, he said.
The number of homes on the market is showing a steady decline from an all-time high of 1,748 homes listed for sale in the city in September 2008.
"It took some time because it wasn't a realistic number to begin with," Janzen said. "It certainly had to do with the buying frenzy that we saw in 2007. You ended up with a lot of investors from all areas of the country, predominately from Alberta, buying property with the idea of flipping those properties."
The real estate market outside of the city also showed strength in August, with 92 properties selling last month, a 22 per cent increase from August 2008 when 79 homes were sold in the region outside of Saskatoon.
In these areas, which includes communities such as Martensville and Dalmeny, the average selling price in August reached $270,488, up nine per cent from August 2008 when the average selling price was $248,556.
Janzen expects the Saskatoon real estate market to remain stable through the remainder of the year.
"I would expect that it's going to be that way right through fall and probably for the remainder of the year. There's no indication that there's going to be any significant difference," he said.