Sask. homebuyers still 'making that leap' into market amid rising prices

Teacher Kelsi Moser is entering the homebuyer's market for the first time.

“It is definitely intimidating when you look at the prices of a lot of things,” said Moser.

According to the Saskatchewan Realtors Association (SRA), the median sale price of a home in the province has gone up 2.6 per cent since last February.

Saskatoon realtor Chris May says one reason for the price increases is supply and demand, and right now there aren’t as many houses available.

“Now in saying that there's more houses getting listed, we're into March that's typically when we start to see the inventory levels start to climb,” he said.

“What we hope to have instead of 15 buyers competing over one thing that isn't new to the market, you end up with 15 buyers competing for 10 to 12 listings, so then that supply starts to meet what that demand is there.”

Saskatoon & Region Home Builders Association CEO Chris Guerette says a recent study revealed that for every $10,000 increase in the price of a house, there's 1% of the population who can no longer afford that anymore.

But Guerette says rather than stopping people from buying, the higher prices are seeing them recalibrate their expectations of the market.

“How we lived in our homes two years ago is drastically different than how we're living today, and for many people and many families that means they have to adjust how they live in their home, and so I think that's why we're seeing a lot of that activity,” she said.

The Saskatchewan Realtors Association says house sales are up 74.5 per cent since last February.

“It's been one of the best years in real estate history,” said SRA director of external & government relations Samantha Krahn.

“Both in December and January, records were broken across the country, according to Canadian Real Estate Association, so it's pretty significant.”

Krahn says much of the increase stems from people saving up money by staying home during the pandemic.

“They're also working from home, so what was good enough a year ago, year and a half ago, two years, is less than good enough, so a lot of folks are making that leap and really getting into the market.”

Guerette says there’s also a high demand for building supplies like lumber, and that’s seen the cost of building new homes go up.

“On top of the high demand right now that nobody really would have projected, there's also a difficulty in getting that product out fast enough. And that's just because of the regulations and everybody wanting it,” she said, adding that similar trends are affecting supplies like steel and insulation, and even appliances.

“Every little delay and every price increase, that just gets added on to the price of the house.”

Increased lumber prices are also affecting home renovations.

“A sheet of plywood went up $7 in a week,” said Saskatoon Deck Shop owner Rene Laberge.

Laberge says he’s been in the deck business since 1993, and has never seen price increases like these.

“We have our price today, but we don't know if that's going to be the price at the end of the month.”

Despite a higher cost, he says they’re expecting to be busy with renovations this summer.

“People, if they are going to stay in their home, they want that backyard to look just like it would if it was a brand new home,” he said. “We've already seen it, a really strong renovation demand.”

The higher costs and a fluctuating market won’t be stopping Moser from purchasing her first home.

“I'm excited at the prospect of owning my own place,” she said.