A local realtor and home builder doesn’t expect Grande Prairie’s slump in new home construction to last much longer. For the second month in a row, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says the city has seen the lowest number of housing starts of major cities in Alberta.
“The new market is definitely a little bit slow right now,” says REMAX Grande Prairie realtor and sales manager for Dirham Homes Kevin Vobeyda, “but I think that’s going to change and I think that’s going to change a lot quicker than we really anticipate.”
Work has started on just six homes this year, down from 18 in the first two months of 2017. Last year saw the second lowest numbers in a decade, following the lowest in 2016. Vobeyda says that while the new home market is slow right now, he expects it to pick up soon.
“Right now we’ve got an all time low inventory level on new houses, and I think that in the spring, the first chance we have to start digging some basements, we’re going to see a big change in the market.”
Vobeyda adds that there are few homes for rent these days thanks to the economy picking up, and people are finding the cost to rent to be so high that it might make more sense to buy a home instead. He adds that anyone in the market to buy should be looking at what’s left that’s new instead of re-sale, especially since the cost of construction is increasing.
“Right now what we’re finding is that existing market, the prices were lower and people were looking at buying in that range, and now those prices are starting to creep up and they’re getting to the point where they’re getting on par with new housing.”
Less homes are also being put up for sale with the unemployment rate dropping, which Vobeyda expects to drive more new home construction. Five new single family homes got underway in Grande Prairie in February, while there were 13 a year ago, along with two multi-unit buildings.