Housing market slows

The Yukon’s red hot housing market is starting to cool, says Val Smith, president of the Yukon Real Estate Association. After more than a decade of limited supply and rising prices, things seem to be leveling off.

The Yukon’s red hot housing market is starting to cool, says Val Smith, president of the Yukon Real Estate Association.

After more than a decade of limited supply and rising prices, things seem to be leveling off.

It’s all thanks to the number of new lots that have come on to the market recently.

“The supply and demand dynamics are shifting, and in particular in the mid-range, anything under $400,000,” said Smith. “It’s definitely more of a buyers’ market now, where people actually have a few choices to look at, and don’t necessarily have to anticipate competitive bidding scenarios.

“I would not say that the market has ground to a halt, but we’re definitely not seeing the activity we have seen for the past number of years.”

But while sales have slowed, there’s no need to panic, she said.

“This is not the bottom falling out of the market,” said Smith. “This is the market starting to balance and become more normal.”

In March the Yukon Bureau of statistics reported that the average price of a house in Whitehorse is $432,600, more than twice what it was only seven years ago.

But while prices for midrange properties are coming down a bit, given the cost of land labour and materials, “they can only go so low,” she said.

Everyone seems to agree that the big issue was supply.

“There’s been a lot of controversy over the government or the city dropping the ball on lot development and lot supply,” said Smith. “But as always it takes time for change to manifest and catch up.”

Ten years ago Whitehorse was actually shrinking, but city planners saw the writing on the wall.

“In the 2002 (Official Community Plan) process we were struggling explaining to the public that we needed to identify places for growth because we were actually at a decline at that moment according to the previous census,” said Mike Gau, the city’s manager of planning and development services.

“I think people understand that now we’re having a lot of the negative effects – social issues, economic issues – because of the price of housing and supply.”

According to the last census the Yukon was one of the highest-growing jurisdictions in the country, with a growth rate of 13.8 per cent.

And for Whitehorse that number was even higher, said Gau.

With all the private development that’s happened in the last few years, and new lots in the Whistle Bend subdivision scheduled to go up for sale this fall, the city is in pretty good shape, he added.

“Hopefully have a steady supply for at least 10 years,” he said. “But again, we have to at least get the plans on the shelf so we can build in case we get another surge.”

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com

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