Photo: Brendan Bell/Flickr

Calgary home sales were off to a slow start in the first quarter of 2018, following the introduction of stricter mortgage regulations Canada-wide at the beginning of the year.

A total of 3,423 units changed hands in the first quarter, roughly an 18 per cent drop from last year’s levels and 24 per cent below long-term averages, according to the latest data from the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), published on Monday.

The association says the decline in quarterly sales is not a surprise, after the market experienced stronger growth in sales at the end of 2017, following the announcement of the new mortgage regulations.

“Economic conditions are slowly improving, but it has not been enough to outpace the current impact of higher lending rates and more stringent conditions,” says CREB chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie, in a statement.

With a slowdown in sales, detached and condo inventory increased this quarter and prices experienced a small drop on a quarterly basis. However, prices remained relatively stable compared to last year, which CREB attributes to modest gains in the detached sector offsetting declines in the apartment sector.

Last month, the citywide benchmark price of a home was $435,600 — a less than one per cent increase from a year ago.

“We are entering the most active quarters in the housing market with more inventory, which could create some price fluctuations,” says Lurie.

“However, the improving economy is expected to prevent overall prices from slipping by significant amounts,” she adds.

Here are 8 more key facts that illustrate Calgary’s slow path towards a housing recovery during the first quarter of 2018.

1. A total of 1,374 units sold in the city last month, down 27 per cent from 1,890 units a year ago.

2. Overall inventory reached 6,371 units in March, up 24 per cent from the 5,124 units recorded in March 2017.

3. With slow sales and climbing inventory, there was nearly five months of supply on the market in March, up 71 per cent from 2.71 months a year ago.

4. The benchmark price of a detached home was $503,800 in March, 3.6 per cent below pre-recession highs, but one per cent above lows seen during the recession. “The market today is better than what we experienced at the peak of the recession,” says CREB president Tom Westcott, in a statement.

5. During the first three months of 2018, the benchmark price of a detached home averaged $502,000 — slightly lower than the fourth quarter of 2017, but comparable to levels seen in the first quarter of 2017.

6. Meanwhile, detached inventory totalled an average of 2,573 units in the first quarter of 2018 — 10 per cent below first quarter averages seen in 2015 and 2016.

7. The condo segment continued to struggle with excess supply in the resale, new home and rental market during the first three months of 2018, which impacted prices. In the first quarter, condo prices averaged $256,567, one per cent below the fourth quarter of 2017 and three per cent below levels recorded in the first quarter of 2017.

8. In the attached segment, prices improved in some areas of the city during the first quarter but were offset by declines in other neighbourhoods. The benchmark price of an attached home was $328,533 in Q1 2018, unchanged from levels seen during this period a year ago.

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