Home Month and Year May 2024 Boosting Calgary Real Estate

Boosting Calgary Real Estate

The economy, jobs, quality of life and migration

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Calgary’s real estate, sales-to-listing ratios, benchmark prices and consumer trends have calmed down and stabilized from the last few “hot market” years. And despite jittery consumer confidence aggravated by the economy, inflation, high mortgage rates and boosted by inter-provincial and global migration, Calgary’s resale, new build and rental markets are still positive.  

While other comparable major Canadian areas like Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa have experienced degrees of a cooling-off slowdown, Calgary’s real estate market has actually bumped-up a bit.  

Although average prices were down nationally led by declines in the largest metropolitan areas, Calgary is among three cities seeing price gains in the latter half of 2023.  

According to national stats, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Winnipeg have had price declines since last June when the benchmark price of a home in Canada peaked at $760,600.  

The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) data underscores the Calgary contrast, with year-end 2023 figures showing the benchmark price up more than 10 per cent year over year, at $570,100. 

Most analysts forecast a strong Calgary market for the balance of 2024. 

In addition to Calgary’s strong economy, the attractiveness and appeal of Calgary’s quality of life and job opportunities (particularly in the energy and tech sectors), Calgary real estate and rentals are undisputedly buoyed by migration. 

According to provincial stats and trending, Calgary is the most desirable destination for the record 56,000-plus net interprovincial migrants that came to Alberta between July 2022 and July 2023.  

Aside from the unique Calgary good life and the job opportunities, the affordability of the city’s real estate which, despite reaching record levels in 2023, continues much more affordable than Vancouver or Toronto, where the discouraging combo of high prices and spiked interest rates are nudging people to head west and come to Calgary. 

“Migration has played a big part in Calgary’s real estate market, more in the past few years than possibly ever,” says the plugged-in Jared Chamberlain, REALTOR® and team lead with Calgary’s Chamberlain Group. “As people from other cities and countries look for affordability and a place to call home, Calgary has been put on the map. 

“The last market increase of 2014 was driven mainly by oil and gas. This time around we are seeing more population growth and families moving here versus workers moving for short timeframes with plans to go back home. But, as we move into the future, and as Calgary continues to diversify its workforce and industries, we will likely see Calgary continue to be a top option for migration.” 

Corinne Lyall, broker and owner of Calgary’s Royal LePage Benchmark, compares the Calgary real estate market of 8 to 10 years ago, including Calgary’s migration trends. “The major difference from then to now is the lack of inventory in 2023/2024. The lack of supply has driven prices upwards. And 8 to 10 years ago, interest rates were lower and we were experiencing some negative impacts from the oil market.   

“Interestingly enough, in 2015, Calgary had a major downturn in the real estate market, and as a result we actually had negative migration to Alberta in 2016.” 

Lyall suggests that Calgary will continue with low inventory and fewer sales, compared with other years. “Some sellers are still holding onto their low interest rates and not wanting to move, or they are not too anxious to sell because they might not find something to buy.   

“As we see more people migrating to Calgary and our surrounding communities, I think its going to be very difficult to support the population growth when it comes to finding housing. What is helping are builders who are increasing their new home starts and introducing more product to the market,” she adds. 

For various reasons, some stats and trending indicate that Calgary rentals are the Calgary housing sector most impacted by migration. And the 2024 Calgary rental market continues pricey and tight. 

According to Wayne Morishita, executive director of the Calgary Residential Rental Association (CRRA), “Calgary’s strong labour market and population growth have significantly boosted housing and rental demand. Rental property supply is increasing but not nearly enough to meet demand, which has led to a tightening of the Calgary rental market.  

Calgary vacancy is low and finding a reasonable rental is difficult. “Currently there is only a 1.4 per cent vacancy rate in Calgary. Lack of rental property supply, rising mortgage payments due to higher interest rates and inflation have led to significant increases in Calgary rental rates.” 

Morishita notes that, by comparison to other major rental markets like Toronto and Vancouver, and despite Calgary’s 14.3 per cent rental increase in purpose-built apartments in 2023, Calgary still remains one of the lowest priced major markets for rentals in Canada. 

The spiked costs of Calgary rentals have triggered buzz about possibly implementing rent controls. Morishita and CRRA beg to differ. “Rent control is not the answer to rising rents and in every jurisdiction where it’s already in place. It invariably leads to rental housing supply shortages and higher rents. Rent controls make a short-term housing supply shortage permanent and worse.” 

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