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Veteran fears issues plaguing market may be long-term

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A veteran agent in one of Canada’s struggling markets: “I’m not … optimistic that this is going to be short-term.”

It’s a sobering stance from a man who has seen a number of economic downturns and argues this one is different.

“The problem is right now Alberta is flat in terms of prices; if anything we’re having a correction downward,” Duane Ritter, an Alberta-based agent with RE/MAX, told REP. “I’m old enough to remember the other corrections but this one is different; people reacted to the last couple times but they aren’t this time.”

According to Ritter, there is a glut of listings and sellers are refusing to lower their asking prices.

“I don’t know if they’re hoping it’ll bounce back,” he said. You look at some of the listings and some of those have been up for 178 days.”

Albertans have obviously been impacted by oil price declines, with unemployment rates – increasing by 100,000 since oil prices starting dropping, according to Ritter — and debt delinquency on the rise.

Equifax Canada reported last week that delinquencies for consumer credit increased by 25%. Further, Albertans have the highest debt load in Canada, with an average of $27,000.

And that will have an impact on the housing market, according to Ritter.

“There is no place else to get cash,” Ritter said, noting many in the province have had to rely on sales from unnecessary items such as cars, boats, and recreational vehicles. Once everything else has been sold, the homes could be next on the chopping block.

“If they aren’t making any income it’s going to impact the housing market,” Ritter said.
As for the future of the province, Ritter isn’t entirely optimistic.

“I think people are hoping it will bounce back and they will get jobs,” he said. “The world as changed and the oil sands are not what they used to be.

“I’m not … optimistic that this is going to be short-term.”