Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is busy revising its latest forecast which predicted Edmontonâ€™s new, resale and rental markets would remain robust in the next two years â€” just not as robust as 2014.
â€œI think overall, thereâ€™s definitely more of a downside risk to our current housing forecast than there was a few months ago,â€� said Christina Butchart, CMHC senior market analyst for Edmonton.
She is careful not to make any new predictions yet, but said collateral damage from the oil-price crash could reach beyond the energy industry.
â€œWhen oil prices decline, thereâ€™s a trickle-down effect affecting a lot of the different sectors in Edmonton. â€œ
Greg Steele, president of the Realtors Association of Edmonton, thinks crude will bounce back.
â€œOil prices tend to be up and down in short spurts. If we have a long, protracted decline, weâ€™ll definitely see it in the sales prices and the sales levels, but right now I donâ€™t believe itâ€™s going to have that much of a detrimental effect,â€� he said.
â€œPeople are still moving to Edmonton and they need a place to live, he said. â€œWe might see slightly fewer sales, but with the amount of interprovincial migration into the Edmonton area and into Alberta, weâ€™re basically not as heavily reliant on the oil sector as much as we used to be.â€�
He points to Edmontonâ€™s busy construction industry.
â€œAll of the projects that are under construction right now, those are three- to five-year projects and theyâ€™ve all been funded and paid for,â€� Steele said.
â€œThe people working on those projects alone are going to buoy our economy and itâ€™s not going to be felt too, too much in the Edmonton market.â€�
The ATBâ€™s Hirsch says Edmontonâ€™s real estate market is balanced, with no clear bubble to burst. â€œIâ€™m not expecting a pronounced dip in prices,â€� he said.
Albertaâ€™s public-service union is bracing for a freeze on ministriesâ€™ budgets, and possibly cuts.
â€œHere we go again on the roller-coaster ride of oil prices,â€� said Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. â€œA modern civil service cannot run on that basis.â€�
Smith made the comments after a grim warning from Premier Jim Prentice.
â€œI wonâ€™t cushion it,â€� Prentice said. â€œWe will have to make some tough decisions and the impact will be felt in every corner of this province.â€�
Last week, Finance Minister Robin Campbell told the legislature there will be no increases to ministry budgets next year.
Smith said government ranks are already showing low morale and high turnover and citizens would also suffer from any cutbacks.
â€œThese cuts would affect all Albertans, he said. Think of fewer people catching poachers, sheriffs catching speeders on the highway, land titles changes taking longer to approve, and for court clerks, â€œtheyâ€™re stretched to the limit,â€� Smith said.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said he hopes Prentice has learned from history. â€œDeep cuts to the public service donâ€™t end the recession, they deepen them,â€� McGowan said.
Plunging crude prices are dragging down the markets amid a sell-off of energy stocks. On the Toronto Stock Exchange, the energy sector, which makes up 23 per cent of the TSX, has slumped more than 25 per cent so far in 2014.