Calgary's luxury home market may be poised to grow faster than Toronto, Vancouver

A new report about the luxury home market from Sotheby's International Realty suggests million-dollar-plus home sales in Calgary and Montreal have been picking up over the past year, and may even surpass the high-end markets in Toronto and Vancouver in the months ahead.

'Honestly, it's one of the oddest things I've seen in real estate in over 20 years'

Calgary's luxury home sales have picked up over the past year, according to a report from Sotheby's. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Million-dollar-plus home sales in Calgary and Montreal have been picking up over the past year, and may even surpass the high-end markets in Toronto and Vancouver in the months ahead in terms of fastest growth, according to a new report about the luxury home market from Sotheby's International Realty.

Sotheby's Calgary Managing Broker Mary-Ann Mears said sales of Calgary homes priced over a million dollars in January and February are up 45 per cent from the same time last year. 

Most of those sales involved detached homes between one and two million dollars.

Mary-Ann Mears is the managing broker for Sotheby's Calgary. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

The increase was driven, Sotheby's said, by a buyer's market as some luxury home prices have edged downward.

"Now we're in the new normal, and with that there is value in these homes and with that we are seeing the buyers are re-engaged and have confidence in the Calgary market," Mears said.

"Due to the fact we are seeing more inventory, the buyers again can be very selective in getting exactly or close to what they want."

This $6-million home in Calgary's Upper Mount Royal neighbourhood is 6,900 square feet, and connects to a spa through a tunnel. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

The luxury real estate brand said job gains and provincial GDP growth are also likely helping. 

Local realtor Doug Hayden of eXp Realty said while sales may be down overall in Calgary, and especially in some housing sectors like the condo market, luxury homes have bounced back since the downturn.

"That market definitely got hit, so you're seeing big price adjustments in some of those homes, not so big in others and you're seeing builders come into that space as well, so there's a lot of people building new in that price range," Hayden said. "It's a market that's holding for sure."

Sales of luxury homes in Calgary have been driven by a buyer's market, say realtors. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

"Honestly, it's one of the oddest things I've seen in real estate in over 20 years."

Hayden said people who can afford luxury homes — "there was no downturn for them" — will notice that the value is there for the price. 

"I think this is the new realty. You go to a lot of other cities and a million dollars doesn't even buy you an average home in those cities," he said.

He said the trend also shows economic health, at least for people at the top of the market.

"The market that really needs a boost is that mid-range, that was hurt the most by the economy," he said, describing the range that took the biggest hit as homes between $500,000 and $1 million. 

With files from Dave Gilson