Despite further increases in lending rates continuing to weigh on the real estate market, the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) is still forecasting home sales to surpass levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its 2023 forecast published on Tuesday, the CREB said it was projecting 25,921 home sales in Calgary for 2023, which is lower than the 29,672 home sales recorded in 2022, but significantly higher than the number recorded between 2015 and 2020, which all saw fewer than 20,000 sales.

"Recent growth in migration and employment is expected to help offset the impact of higher lending rates," the CREB said, "keeping annual sales activity higher than levels achieved throughout the 2015 to 2019 period."

Alberta as a whole has seen a surging amount of interprovincial migration in recent years, as affordability and other factors have pushed residents of larger provinces such as BC and Ontario away from those provinces and towards Alberta -- where those problems also exist, but at more manageable levels.

According to Statistics Canada's most recent data, Alberta recorded a net gain of 19,285 people as a result of interprovincial migration in Q3 2022, the highest gain in a third quarter since 1980. Naturally, as more and more people migrate to Alberta, more and more people will be looking to buy homes, with Calgary benefiting as a result of being one of the province's major cities, as well as prices that can seem like a bargain compared to those in British Columbia or Ontario.

According to year-end statistics published by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, and Calgary Real Estate Board, the composite residential benchmark price was $1,114,300 in Metro Vancouver, $1,081,400 in Greater Toronto, but just $518,800 in Calgary.

Calgary real estate home sales 2023 forecast 1024x424Sales and price growth and forecast. (Calgary Real Estate Board)

The CREB says that construction starts are expected to improve in 2023 as well, but not enough to expect significant gains in supply, due to the aforementioned demand accompanying increased migration.

"The low starting point and limited upward pressure on supply in 2023 is expected to prevent any significant downward pressure on prices as demand normalizes," the CREB said.

However, that may not hold true across all property types and price ranges, the CREB notes. Homes on the higher end of the price spectrum are expected to see prices decrease, due to minimal supply constraints. Meanwhile, lower-priced homes have seen more supply constraints, which could likely result in some price increases.

"Declines in the upper end of the market are expected to offset gains in the lower end of the market as total residential prices in Calgary are expected to stabilize in 2023," the CREB said.

Like in other real estate markets, Calgary saw a significant spike in activity that was driven by low interest rates during the pandemic. Interest rates drastically increased in 2022 -- with the Bank of Canada increasing the rate to 4.5% on Wednesday -- and that is expected to result in more distinct trends across property types and price ranges, rather than growth across the board.

READ: After Initial Gains, Alberta Residential Sales Cooled Off to End 2022

"Recent [interest] rate gains have had more of an impact on home sales in Toronto and Vancouver," the CREB says. "Slowing sales in these markets have impacted the national numbers prompting many to forecast price declines in Canada."

However, the CREB adds, "it is also important to note that even with the forecasted price declines expected in the larger markets in the country, those declines are not expected to erase all the gains that occurred through the pandemic. While Calgary and Edmonton are not immune to the impacts of inflation and higher lending rates, they have not experienced the same level of price gains and are not expected to go through the same level of declines."

"With much of the pandemic behind us, 2023 reflects more of an adjustment into more typical conditions," the CREB concluded.

Amidst times of uncertainty, there's something to be said for stability and a return to normal.