Todd Hirsch, ATB’s economics Yoda, spoke at the Calgary Real Estate Board last week about where Alberta’s economy is headed. Todd is brilliant. He makes economics accessible and entertaining, and he's a snappy dresser.
Confronting a room of Realtors in a tough market was a gutsy thing to do. I can’t believe Todd actually agreed to it.
I had three big takeaways from Todd's talk:
(Well... more like two and a half)
1. Our Real Estate Market should stabilize for the rest of the year.
It will probably continue to remain stable long into next year. There's no telling how long that will last. But no dramatic change is in sight. Our market isn’t bottoming out. It doesn’t appear like it’s going to bottom out. What we’ve got now is the way it’s going to be for a while. So read this blog and realize, things aren’t that bad for most of us.
2. The Labour Market might still get worse.
You could tell that it pained Todd to say it. But like a doctor delivering a tough diagnosis, he didn't sugar coat it. Energy companies are learning how to adjust to a new normal. They are figuring out ways to still be profitable. Unfortunately, part of figuring it out will likely mean more layoffs.
Wait... more layoffs but the real estate market will remain stable. That logic made no sense to me.
Then Todd explained that many two income households are becoming one income households. Many families are able to get by on one income. Christmas will be less extravagant, vacations will be closer to home, date nights will be more creative... but they'll keep paying the mortgage and food will still be on the table.
2.5 Everyone wants to blame the NDP.
Seriously. Todd opened up the floor to questions. Questions from struggling realtors longing for a return to 2007. Again, gutsy. The dude doesn't hide behind those sweet ties.
Twice, yes twice, someone asked ‘How much is the NDP to blame for the current conditions?’ The first time Todd gave a diplomatic answer with some things they seem to be getting wrong. The second time he spoke about all of the opportunities in this current economic environment.
My takeaway from this was: you can blame the NDP, or OPEC, or Trudeau, or Chad from The Bachelor, it just doesn't matter. You can still live a great life right now. You can easily buy a great house, you can still sell your house.
If you talk to a long time Calgarian, like the Realtor at Todd's talk who lived through the downturn in the eighties, they'll tell you stories about 'real bad'. Things aren't 'real bad' either.