Hundreds of new condos sit empty in Calgary

Real estate numbers show hundreds of new condos are sitting empty and Calgary hasn't seen that kind of new-build vacancy rate in 15 years.

Hot 2014 market spurred building boom but the 2 years that followed have been anything but

An estimated 800 condos are sitting empty in Calgary, according to new real estate numbers, with many planned during a hot market in 2014. (CBC)

Real estate numbers show hundreds of new condos in Calgary are sitting empty.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says about 1,500 newly built housing units sat vacant across the city last month and more than 800 were apartment-style condos.

Calgary hasn't seen that kind of new-build vacancy rate in 15 years, the organization says.

Many of the empty condos were planned during an earlier boom, said Matthew Boukall, a senior director with Altus Group, a real estate advisory company.

"We're actually just seeing the natural progression of the market," he said.

Matthew Boukall, a senior director with Altus Group, a real estate advisory company, says the surplus could mean some good selection and lower prices for buyers. (CBC)

"We saw in 2014 a huge number of condos starting construction. It takes anywhere from 18 to 36 months to build a condo … So we're actually seeing a natural progression of the market out of a hot market in 2014 into a slower market in 2015, 2016."

The surplus could mean some lower prices, incentives and better selection for buyers.

"There's some really good opportunities for consumers to go out and buy a brand new condo without having to wait, which is actually great for consumers," said Boukall.

Hard to find renters

Doug Hayden, a real estate agent with EXP Realty, says while it may be a good time to buy, he advises people to think long-term when purchasing a property and not to consider condos as an easy property to drop.

"I've had people that have bought not one, but two or three of these, hoping to flip them or to rent them out, and where they really got caught is the rental market. They were planning on having rentals cover their investment in these and it's not working out at all."

Hayden says he is surprised that there are still companies pulling permits to build more condo buildings, although they may put those projects on hold.

"There's more inventory that looks like it is coming down the pipe," he said.