Three days and 31 visits later, she had received 11 offers for the property, including one from a family who wrote a personal letter to the seller and included a family photo. This seems to be the winning “bid” in a booming real estate market that sees more and more offers and properties selling for above asking price.
Real estate professionals, market watchers and longtime residents say there is a combination of factors at play, including the pandemic and low interest rates. But surging sales and rising prices are raising concerns in the community – which still sees itself as a place for families to raise their children rather than an exclusive playground for the privileged.
The average house price in Canmore is approaching $ 1.1 million, according to the Alberta Real Estate Association benchmark price.
“Sales are up, inventory is down,” said Dan Sparks, one of Canmore’s busiest real estate agents, who has been selling homes in the Bow Valley for 20 years.
But there are fewer houses for sale. There are currently around 100 homes on the market. When you factor in the number of sales, that’s a one-month supply, down sharply from the usual five to six month supply at this time of year.
What does it all mean? To put it mildly, it’s a sellers market.
“We have had exceptional sales throughout the Canmore area, but listings and supply have not kept pace,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist for the Alberta Real Estate Association.
“And that’s what’s causing some of the price gains we’re seeing in this market. “
And some of those price gains have been astronomical.
Kelly MacMillan of ReMax Alpine Realty says she just sold a condominium unit in a hotel for $ 50,000 above the asking price.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo – which has the potential to generate hotel income every night – was listed for $ 600,000. The sellers bought the property four years ago for $ 350,000.
“There was an opportunity to take funds out of the market,” MacMillan said.
“They are very happy,” she said of her clients.
The pandemic is pushing demand
Sparks calls it COVID fatigue. Although he takes calls from people in Toronto and Montreal – and even from a family in Germany – a good chunk of the buyers are people from Calgary and Edmonton who have been stuck in their homes for over a year and looking for a change of scenery, he says.
“They have been working from home for a while, and they can continue to do so. And if they can do it, they will do it where they want, ”he said.
“Canmore, especially the recreational markets, where people find they don’t have to be where they work. They have this flexibility of working from home.
As inventory decreases, the opportunities to find a traditional, single-family detached home also diminish. Sparks says last week there were only two homes listed for under $ 1 million – and only five were on the market for under $ 1.5 million.
Sparks served for several years on the board of directors of Canmore Community Housing, a municipal corporation responsible for creating affordable housing options for individuals and families.
A 10-unit townhouse project is under construction and is expected to open in early 2022.
There are already 150 people on the waiting list to buy or rent a property.
“It’s basically just fingers in the dam,” Sparks said.
“The affordability of housing in Canmore will always be an issue. We’re just going to be constantly working on this problem.
The average price of condominiums in Canmore is now $ 500,000.
New development, more affordable housing?
Canmore City Council recently approved a series of changes to the latest Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) development plan on the east side of the community.
One of the changes is a proposed requirement that the developer include 20% affordable or subsidized housing – double the amount proposed by TSMV. A spokesperson for the developer said the company is still evaluating the impact of the changes and withholding any comment until the plan is returned to the board on May 11.
The mayor says that while it will take years for these units to become available, council must act now.
John Borrowman says young families have been leaving the community for years because they cannot afford to stay.
“We’ve been bleeding the next generation like this for years,” he said.
“If we don’t do anything to ensure that affordable housing is a big part of our future, the city will become… it will only be a place for the very rich.
New housing options, slow adoption
The city recently said it would consider building or legalizing secondary apartments in existing neighborhoods. There are financial incentives for homeowners to add what they call “secondary suites”.
So far, only three homeowners have applied for the $ 20,000 grants.
Dale Hildebrand is a local real estate agent and builder. He recently sold two listed duplexes for $ 1.2 million and $ 1.4 million. One of them has a separate one-bedroom suite.
Hildebrand’s next project is in its early stages, but he hopes to redevelop several residential lots near the city center into 16 to 18 townhouses. Several will be specially designed for employers to purchase for their employees.
“They can… lease them to their employees at a subsidized rate,” Hildebrand said.
But as demand remains strong and prices rise, the market may be too hot for employers to consider housing their employees.
This is a problem for the community, which has struggled to attract employees.
“It’s harder for young people to find affordable housing,” said Michel Dufresne, director of the Job Resource Center in Banff and Canmore.
“It also makes it more difficult for small businesses to provide this housing to their employees. It has become a bigger game when you have to buy a house for a million dollars to house five people, ”he said.
“It’s very expensive. ”
Bryan Labby is a corporate reporter for CBC Calgary. If you have a great idea for an article or tip, you can attach it to [email protected] or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.