Calgary Herald

Lure of the West

Real estate drawing out-of-province buyers seeking more for their money


Calgary's real estate market is on sale. That's largely the take of a growing number of out-of-province buyers seeking to get more house for their dollar in the city than they can in other major centres like Toronto and Vancouver.

“Many potential buyers have reached out to move here, and they're saying they're doing that because it's more affordable,” says Jared Chamberlai­n, realtor and broker/owner of Chamberlai­n Real Estate Group in Calgary.

He says his team of agents has seen a small, but noticeable uptick in clients from Greater Vancouver, Kelowna, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in the last few weeks.

He points to the RBC Affordabil­ity Index, released in early spring, that found the average cost of ownership of a Vancouver home required 78 per cent of household income and about 68 per cent in Toronto. In contrast in Calgary, the cost of ownership required about 37 per cent of household income.

As well, a report by Oxford Economics rated Calgary as the 10th most affordably city in North America, while Toronto and Vancouver were the least affordable.

Another driver is the pandemic, which has demonstrat­ed for many employers that staff can be productive working remotely. More employers have now decided some employees can work remotely on a permanent basis.

“Work previously kept many people tied to the GTA, for example,” Chamberlai­n says. “Now they can work wherever they want.”

Among those workers are Khushbu Mistry and Vineet Mrug, both employed in the IT sector, who are now house-hunting in Calgary.

“We recently got married and were renting a one-bed apartment in Toronto,” Mrug says. “We want to start a family at some point in the near future.”

They want a bigger home, but a single-family dwelling in the GTA was too expensive for their budget.

“Calgary not only offered us more affordable housing but, being within an hour of the Rockies, is also much more scenic — and offers many more outdoor activity options,” he says.

That combinatio­n of affordabil­ity and lifestyle has drawn many other tech workers to the city in recent months, who either are no longer tied to the office or are drawn by the growing job opportunit­ies in Calgary's fast-growing tech sector.

“All of a sudden there are a lot more tech jobs opening up in the city,” Chamberlai­n says.

“Office space is so cheap in downtown Calgary, tech companies are moving their people here.”

A recent report by Alberta Enterprise Corp. in partnershi­p with PWC highlights this growth. It noted the province's tech sector has grown by 233 per cent since 2012 with Calgary now home to almost 60 per cent of the province's tech companies.

Affordabil­ity is the leading driver for all out-of-town buyers. Chamberlai­n cites as one example a prospectiv­e buyer previously approved for a $900,000-mortgage for a Vancouver condominiu­m.

“In Calgary, she can get a lot of house for that amount.”

One reason for the city's relative affordabil­ity has been the multi-year downturn in the oil and gas industry, he adds.

“People used to move here for work in oil and gas, but for the last five years, we saw more people leaving the city than coming here,” Chamberlai­n says.

“Even when people were moving here, it was often because of relocation, not because of lifestyle and affordabil­ity.”

 ?? GAVIN YOUNG ?? The real estate market in Calgary is seeing a growing number of out-of-province buyers from places like Toronto and Vancouver seeking to get more house for their dollar.
GAVIN YOUNG The real estate market in Calgary is seeing a growing number of out-of-province buyers from places like Toronto and Vancouver seeking to get more house for their dollar.

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