Sunday, January 31, 2021 / by Sergey Korostensky
There are many things that give Calgary an advantage over other Canadian cities. Higher annual incomes, above average volunteerism rates and yes, more Grey Cup trophies than any other team city in the Canadian Football League. So far this century, anyway.
Calgary also has the highest rate of home ownership at 73 per cent according to the 2016 census. That’s more than Toronto (67 per cent), Vancouver (64 per cent) and Montreal (56 per cent). The pandemic shakeup of 2020 might tell a different tale, but for now, Calgary leads the pack.
“We are fortunate that we are still a relatively affordable city. And now, the steep decline in lending rates will also continue to support home ownership in our market,” says Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist for the Calgary Real Estate Board.
It can be difficult for younger buyers to afford a home in other Canadian markets, but Calgary’s oversupply of housing stock in every price point provides more options.
Calgary also has an entrepreneurial “go for it” culture that values home ownership.
“In Montreal, for sure, renting is part of the lifestyle. Here, home ownership tends to be the goal,” Lurie says.
Calgary’s market improved in the latter part of 2020, despite the pandemic and challenging economic times, which illustrates the “continued drive for home ownership.”
Realtor Sano Stante, chairman of the Residential Real Estate Broker Industry Council for the Real Estate Council of Alberta, says there’s a greater emphasis on single-family homes as Calgary has a greater supply than other cities, mostly due to its historically large land base.
“Generally, those neighbourhoods with the highest percentage of home ownership tend to be in suburban areas. Higher rental populations appear in areas of higher density, often inner city, which are more walkable with good access to public transportation and public amenities,” he says.
Suburban Tuscany in the northwest has a 92 per cent ownership rate; Silverado in the southwest is at 91 per cent and Saddleridge in the northeast is at 80 per cent. Inner-city Bridgeland/Riverside has a 44 per cent rate; Lower Mount Royal is at 36 per cent; and Bankview is at 32 per cent, the latter of which has more multi-family than single-family homes.
“Of all the condos in Calgary, more than 37 per cent are rentals. We are seeing home ownership amongst the under-35 population declining due to societal shifts. This younger population is inclined to be more mobile and not attached to home ownership as previous age groups,” Stante says.
Leslie Evans, executive director of the Federation of Calgary Communities, objectively looks at homeownership as personal investment in the community.
“It’s a strong statement about finding place and setting down roots. People love where they live and want to invest in that,” she says.
She says Calgary is a neighbourhood-based, community focused city, more so than other Canadian centres. People don’t just say they live in Calgary, they say they live in “Martindale” or in “Cougar Ridge.”
“That small town feel in a large urban centre makes people want to set down roots,” she says.
Attaching lesser value to communities with few owner-occupied homes is “old thinking.”
“Younger people want to live closer to the city centre. They want alternative forms of transportation. People are now self-selecting into renting,” Evans says.
In looking at Bankview, with a rental rate of 68 per cent and an active, highly engaged community association, she raises a point.
“Our old ways of thinking that you have to be a homeowner to care about your community aren’t true anymore.”