Albertans are a largely positive lot when it comes to the prospect of buying a home. That’s the finding of a recent national survey of Canadians regarding homeownership by Mortgage Professionals Canada.
“The indicator of whether it’s a good time to buy is very strong in Alberta right now, and that’s because it’s so affordable there after five years of weak pricing,” says Will Dunning, chief economist with Mortgage Professionals Canada, representing the nation’s mortgage brokers, lenders and insurers.
“The affordability equation is much more favourable in Alberta than it is in other parts of Canada right now.”
The survey asked Canadians to rate from 1 to 10 their confidence in statements such as “Now is a good time to buy a home” with 10 being an excellent time and 1 being not at all a good time to buy.
Albertans scored an average of 6.38 versus 6.04 for the Canadian average on the aforementioned question.
In contrast, Alberta respondents were generally less positive about the future of the economy than other parts of Canada. On average, they rated the economy at 5.81 out of 10 versus the national average of 5.91.
“There’s less confidence in Alberta compared with the rest of the country just because of what’s been going on in the economy, but even having said that, there is still a fair amount of confidence in the province,” says Dunning, adding Ontario and Quebec had the greatest confidence in housing and the economy.
Calgary mortgage broker Matt Leggett, senior vice-president at CanWise Financial, notes lower prices in the city coupled with historically low interest rates have created favourable buying conditions.
“The people that we are seeing, who are looking to buy homes now, are comfortable and secure with their current employment in that they aren’t worried about losing their jobs in the near future.”
Still, he notes the rise in people seeking mortgages to buy a home only really gained momentum at the end of the year.
“Last year most of our business was refinancing for lower rates, but since December we have noticed a lot more interest in purchasing,” he says. “We have been doing a lot of pre-approvals for people (lately) who put things on hold last year due to uncertainty.”
The study marks the third in a series completed since late summer to understand Canadians’ perceptions. Among the key developments has been migration from large cities to smaller urban and rural areas.
“There’s also a little hint of that in Alberta,” says Dunning, adding that price growth across the province has actually been slightly stronger than in Calgary and Edmonton. Recent Calgary Real Estate Board figures appear to support this, with prices in Airdrie and Cochrane growing by seven and 5.3 per cent respectively in January, year over year, versus Calgary at 2.9 per cent.
Still, Dunning notes the positive price growth in Calgary has been surprising all the same given how bleak the picture was last spring. “That data was really fascinating to see change in June and July.”
Driving the market in the city is the same as everywhere, he adds.
“Housing markets are getting reorganized with people everywhere thinking, ‘I’m not living in the right housing situation for me at this time,’ ” Dunning says, noting this is a result of the pandemic.
“So it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.”
- Author of the article:Joel Schlesinger • for the Calgary HeraldPublishing date:Feb 19, 2021 • February 19, 2021 •