Calgary One of the More Affordable Markets in Canada

CALGARY — Calgary experienced a housing market renaissance in 2012, reaping the benefits of strong provincial GDP and in-migration, which propelled home resales in the area, says a report released Monday by RBC Economics Research.

The latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report listed Calgary as one of the more affordable housing markets in Canada.

“Calgary-area buyers enjoyed significantly lower home ownership costs as a share of income than they faced at the market peak in early 2007 and the bar fell even further in 2012,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist of RBC. “In fact, it is the only major city in Canada where RBC measures are lower than their historical averages, suggesting that Calgary is one of the more affordable markets in the country.”

Thanks to improvements in previous quarters, all RBC measures stood below their previous-year levels in the fourth quarter. There was some minor deterioration in the latest period, however, with the measure for detached bungalows rising by 0.2 percentage points. But the measure for two-storey homes remained flat, and that for condominium apartments fell by 0.1 percentage points.

The RBC housing affordability measures capture the pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home at market values.

In Calgary, the average price of a detached bungalow in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $440,600 and the affordability measure was 38.1 per cent. The average price for a standard two-storey home was $434,700 with a measure of 38.6 per cent and for a standard condominium the average price was $250,100 with a measure of 22.2 per cent.

“It’s an exciting time for buyers, borrowing is very affordable right now. I’m seeing this affect the first-time homebuyer and investor market the most lately,” said Shayna Nackoney-Skauge, realtor with RE/MAX Rocky View Real Estate.

“Last week we listed a house that is in relatively original condition in the Varsity area. Within the first eight hours we had 15 showings and two offers. Buyers are flocking to scoop up new competitively-priced listings and investors are quick to pick up well-priced homes for their lot value in high-demand inner-city areas. It’s definitely keeping us on our toes to keep up with what is coming on and off the market on a daily basis.”

RBC said Alberta’s housing market remained vibrant in the final quarter of last year, buoyed by attractive affordability levels, accelerating population growth, a healthy labour market and a strong provincial economy. Although the pace of home resales slowed in the closing months of 2012, the housing market tightened up as fewer properties were listed for sale, it said.

“While homes are not particularly cheap in the province, Albertans boast the highest household incomes in Canada, which helps ensure that the share of their budget taken up by home ownership costs is easily manageable,” said Wright. “Barring an unexpected shock to the economy, housing market conditions in Alberta should remain positive in 2013.”

The RBC housing affordability measures for the province fell across all three housing types tracked by RBC. RBC’s measures for the benchmark detached bungalow and the standard two-storey fell by 0.2 percentage points to 32.1 per cent and 34.7 per cent, respectively. The measure for condominium apartments fell by 0.1 percentage points to 19.7 per cent. Average prices were: bungalow, $357,900; two-storey, $378,800; and condo, $213,300.

Nationally, affordability measures dropped by 0.2 percentage points for both bungalows (42.1 per cent) and condos (28.0 per cent) and by 0.3 percentage points for two-storey homes (47.8 per cent). Average prices in Canada in the fourth quarter of 2012 were: bungalow, $363,400; two-storey, $410,600; and condos, $237,600.

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