Calgary among most affordable markets in Canada for single buyers

Saturday, March 7, 2020   /   by Sergey Korostensky

Calgary among most affordable markets in Canada for single buyers

Calgary is a great city for singles — especially for those seeking to buy a home.


A recent survey found the city is among the most affordable real estate markets for single-income buyers.


“The Calgary market ranks as the fourth most affordable in Canada,” says Penelope Graham, managing editor of Zoocasa.com, an online national brokerage behind the survey.


The city ranked only behind Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton. In fact, Alberta’s capital city was most affordable of all 15 major Canadian cities in the report.


“Calgary is still a pretty good contender, though, because it has the highest median after-tax income ($44,957) for an individual in the whole nation.”


Graham says the brokerage released the survey to coincide with Valentine’s Day last week, and to mark the growing trend of single households in Canada overall.



“There’s data that shows Canadians are increasingly buying real estate on their own, not necessarily with a romantic partner,” she says.


“The most recent census data (2016) shows the number of single households was up to 4 million from about 1.7 million in the 1980s, and about half of them (2 million) do actually own a home.”


To measure affordability, Zoocasa determined the minimum down payment for a benchmark priced condominium in major Canadian cities, which include Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal and Toronto.


“Then we compared those figures to the median, after-tax income individuals earned in each city, provided by Statistics Canada,” she says.



Zoocasa did one additional calculation, assuming that a single person could theoretically set aside 100 per cent of income toward a down payment. It then measured how many months would it take a buyer to come up with the minimum down payment.


So while the minimum down payment for Calgary was about $12,300 for a condo worth about $247,000, which ranked the city as sixth least expensive city, its high median individual after-tax income increased its affordability.


As such Calgary ranked as the fourth most affordable, taking 3.3 months to save for a down payment.


“Obviously this is a theoretical timeline because nobody is in a position to set aside 100 per cent of income,” she says. “We just wanted to illustrate what kind of a multiple housing prices are compared with income.”



Overall, the prairie cities were the most affordable in Canada, with the average single buyer in Edmonton needing to save for 2.6 months for a down payment. The national average was 9.2 months with Vancouver and Toronto topping the list as the least affordable at 14.4 and 10.5 months respectively.


“Housing prices and incomes are much better aligned in prairie cities than in some of the Ontario and B.C. markets.”


Graham adds prices on the prairies have become much more affordable since 2014 when the energy sector, which drives these municipalities’ economies, entered a slump that largely continues today.


As such a buyer could realistically save five per cent of net income to have a down payment in about two years in Calgary. In contrast a buyer in Vancouver would likely be saving for several years to meet the minimum down payment ($40,670), Graham says.



“So it’s just much more feasible in prairie cities if you have a dedicated savings plan.”