A unique city

Calgary distinctive in offering both metropolitan and acreage luxury

Calgary’s housing market has evolved to include a luxury segment offering buyers just about anything their hearts desire, suggested a local industry expert.

“We have those individuals who want to experience the city life, so that’s the downtown metropolitan living,” said Mary-Ann Mears, managing broker with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

“We have the high-end condos and townhouses, so we have that option, (too). But we also have the, ‘I’ve been in the hustle and bustle most of my life, now I just want two (to) four acres I can just putter on’ in Springbank or Bearspaw.”

The luxury resale housing segment sizzled in 2014 with a record-breaking 854 million-plus sales, according to CREB®. The previous record of 726 was set in 2013.

CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie attributed record sales in 2014 to low lending rates, improving wages, rising prices and solid economic fundamentals.

This year, however, luxury buyers in Calgary are being more cautious in light on ongoing uncertainty in the energy sector. In March, sales of homes priced over $1 million decreased by nearly 38 per cent to 49 units, compared to 79 at the same time last year.

Over the first three months, luxury sales have dropped by 46 per cent to 101 sales, compared with 187 during the same period in 2013.

“Typically, what happens is higher-end homes are affected because people are more hesitant to make any significant changes on upgrading in a time of uncertainty, particularly if they’re concerned with their jobs,” said Lurie.

Despite some market softness, Mears said there are still a number of opportunities for confident buyers.

The River along the Elbow River in Mission is scheduled for completion this year, and is set to include one- to three-bedroom attached and apartment units ranging in price from $1.89 to $7.9 million.

Meanwhile, The XII, also in Mission is scheduled for completion in 2017, and is expected to include 10 units ranging in price from $2.95 to $5.8 million.

For those seeking more of a luxury acreage lifestyle, Watermark at Bearspaw has offerings from Wolf Custom Homes, Trickle Creek Homes, Astoria Custom Homes and Albi Homes starting at $1.2 million.

“I look at what’s on the market and there are some really good buys out there,” said Mears. A recent report from Sotheby’s suggests baby boomers are the most likely to be the ones doing the splurging.

According to Sotheby’s 2015 Top-Tier Generational Trends report, the boomer segment (those born between 1946 and 1965) are considered the most “asset-rich” of various generations surveyed. They are also most likely to purchase homes in “longstanding, prestigious communities,” and thus have the most influence on Canada’s luxury
housing market.

“Furthermore, this cohort is highly likely to own multiple real estate assets and to be the source of financial support for Generation Y homebuyers,” said the report.

“With the majority of this cohort earning a combined household income of $300,000-$500,000 and often above, those who carry mortgages do so as a deliberate investment strategy rather than out of necessity.”

While baby boomers tend to purchase in more established communities, Gen X-ers are looking for luxury offerings elsewhere, suggests Sotheby’s.

“In contrast to baby boomers, [Generation X] is redefining the boundaries of luxury neighbourhoods by purchasing luxury properties in socio-economically heterogeneous areas that offer diversity and community engagement,” said the report.

“While escalating housing costs are one contributing factor to the emergence of new top-tier neighbourhoods, survey insights reveal that changing generational values are another key driver.”

In Calgary, that shift has become apparent in communities such as Bridgeland where, just across Memorial Drive, the newly constructed St. Patrick’s bridge adds to the walkability and density of the inner city. Year-to-date as of March, the average price of a home in the community was $690,000.

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