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Economist sees signs of market correction in Calgary housing sales data:

Is Calgary’s housing market experiencing the beginning of a correction?

That’s what one Canadian economist is speculating.

“After leading most cities in sales and price gains last year, Calgary’s high-flying housing market has caught a serious chill,” wrote Sal Guatieri, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, in a commentary.

The reason is the most up-to-date data from the Calgary Real Estate Board. Month-to-date, from January 1-19, total MLS sales in the city have plunged by 33.3 per cent to 438 transactions compared with the same period a year ago. New listings have risen by 38.4 per cent to 1,818 while active listings have jumped by 66.4 per cent to 4,062.

The median price of $420,500 is up by 2.3 per cent but the average MLS sale price has dropped by 0.7 per cent to $458,860.

Pending sales of 93 are down 54.4 per cent from last year.

Guatieri said the average price indicates “likely the start of a correction” and pending sales show “more pain lies ahead.”

At its recent annual forecast breakfast, CREB said overall MLS sales are expected to fall by four per cent in 2015 “due to market uncertainty and changes in economic climate” but it said prices are expected to remain relatively stable with a modest increase of 1.6 per cent on an annual basis.

The Conference Board of Canada has said that a recession is the most likely scenario for Alberta in 2015 due to the lower oil price environment.

In January 2009, after financial markets plunged in the fall of 2008, MLS sales in Calgary also plunged to 768 from the 1,530 transactions recorded in January 2008, according to CREB data. The average MLS sale price also dropped to $370,697 in January 2009 from $413,271 in January 2008.

December marked the first month in almost two years that MLS sales were down in the city compared with the previous year – breaking a string of 20 consecutive months of year-over-year gains. However, the average MLS sale price rose year-over-year in December for the 35th consecutive month.

Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald