Edmonton's 'second-hand' housing market heats up

Business is booming for an Edmonton company which gives properties destined for the wrecking ball a second chance.

'As the market goes down, the used housing market is going up' says mover Tim Willcox

Moving houses in Edmonton, literally


5 years ago
To live in the desired neighbourhood, an Edmonton homeowner sold the existing house on the lot. Now the house is being moved to be a retirement home for another family. 0:52

Business is booming for an Edmonton company which gives properties destined for the wrecking ball a second chance.

Using hydraulic jacks and a complicated series of dollies and cranes, Nomad Building Movers will painstakingly lift old homes, barns or buildings from their original foundations and relocate them, intact, to a new property.

The buildings are loaded onto the back of a transport truck, and transported out of the city after nightfall when traffic calms, and moved anywhere within 150 kilometres of their original location. 

"In Edmonton, we buy used houses and then we find buyers in the rural areas, and move them out and set them up on a new foundation," said owner Tim Willcox during a Friday morning interview on Edmonton AM.

While other corners of the real estate market are headed toward a slump, the second-hand housing market is heating up.
Nomad has moved barns, churches and businesses, but the bulk of their business in Edmonton is coming from residential infill development. (Nomad Building Movers )

Willcox says growing demand is borne out of Edmonton's expanding infill market, and bargain hunters make up the bulk of his clients.

"The demand seems to be increasing. As the market goes down, the used housing market is going up. A lot of people are looking for a cheap alternative right now."

Instead of spending between $12,000 to $20,000 to demolish an unwanted house, customers who want to clear the way for construction of a new home, can instead make a profit by recycling the old structure instead.

Nomad offers homeowners a 20 per cent take of the selling price.

And it's a good deal for the buyers too. According to Willcox, even with the cost of relocation, a new foundation, new plumbing and electrical, the price of a second-hand home is a fraction of buying one brand new.

"A lot of these houses, there's nothing wrong with them. They're structurally sound and they've been maintained and upgraded over the years."

There are roughly seven other house-relocation companies in the Edmonton region, and competition in the market has increased since Willcox took ownership of Nomad in 2004, but that hasn't slowed demand for the broker and moving services.

For instance, a bungalow Willcox's crew will be moving from west Edmonton to Thorsby on Saturday morning is newly renovated and boasts new paint, granite countertops, and hardwood floors.

"So those buyers are going to be into a three bedroom bungalow for just over $100,000."


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