Suburbs drive increase in new condo sales in Calgary, say researchers

New condo sales in Calgary might actually be on the rise, but not in the neighbourhoods one might think.

Meanwhile downtown sales lagged behind

New condo sales are picking up in some parts of Calgary, according to numbers from a global real estate research group. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

New condo sales in Calgary might actually be on the rise, but not in the neighbourhoods one might think.

In 2017, Altus Group data shows 2,083 new condo units were sold — up 42 per cent from a sluggish sales year in 2016. 

But buyers weren't snatching up downtown real estate, according to the global real estate research group. That increase was largely driven by sales in the suburbs. 

Affordability of suburbs draws buyers

"When we look at the suburban market, the affordability for new apartment product is some of the best housing affordability in the city," said Matthew Boukall of Altus Group.

Boukall said much of the growth centred near the South Health Campus and in north Calgary.

"We're kind of tracking areas that are seeing strong employment growth, also seeing strong housing growth, so industrial distribution up north, the health care and industrial sectors in the southeast and those are the two bright spots on the housing sector," he said.

Condo sales were also on the rise in Edmonton, up 60 per cent from the previous year, but those sales were driven by buyers attracted to the city's core and the area surrounding the new Rogers Centre.

Realtors say sales activity in the condo resale market, as well as downtown, remains slow as the market continues to slowly eke its way out of the downturn.

Doug Hayden of EXP Realty says suburban condo buyers are often young, first-time buyers or retirees — all attracted to the low prices.

"You can go into areas like Seton and there's actually projects selling out and that's a two year build," Hayden said. 

Altus Group also looked at 2017's sales numbers to compare what buyers with a budget of $500,000 could afford in downtown centres across Canada.

They found that in Calgary and Edmonton, buyers could find two-bedroom units between 850-1,000 square feet in high-rise buildings near the core, but buyers in Toronto would have to settle for a one-bedroom unit at about 430 square feet for the same price, and in Vancouver, there were no new units available at that price whatsoever. 

With files from Dave Gilson