Rental Renew

You wouldn’t blame Calgary renters for welcoming the end of 2013.

In a year dominated by nearly non-existent vacancy rates, climbing rents and dwindling supply, would-be Calgary tenants had it rough last year. There are however, a few developments that could have renters in the city breathing a little easier.

In addition to physical developments taking place around the city, CREB® has launched a service that will help Calgary renters in their search. Debuting Feb. 4, CREB® will begin showing residential rental listings on the MLS® system.

“Consumers will be able to use the trusted and professional services of their REALTOR® to help them find a property to rent using the MLS® system and they will also be able to leverage the MLS® system to find a tenant for their rental property using the professional services of your trusted REALTOR®,” said CREB® President Bill Kirk.

The move brings the Calgary board in line with many cities across Canada and the U.S. that offer similar services, and should ease some of the burden for would-be tenants and owners.

“Calgary is facing a limited rental market, and the opportunity exists to offer another service to consumers using the trusted and well known resource of the MLS® system,” said Kirk. “By making this option available, CREB® is demonstrating its commitment to being the essential real estate resource for consumers.”

After an extended dry spell that saw less than 300 purpose-built apartment units constructed in the city between 2007 and 2011, Calgary’s rental market is finally seeing a rise in construction. According to real estate firm CBRE Limited, there are 32 rental developments planned for the Calgary area.

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“[Things are picking up] compared to three years ago, when there was next to nothing. You even see it downtown where some of the office towers are putting specific for rent residential,” said Jeff Hurren, senior research analyst for CBRE Limited.

Boardwalk Rental Community’s Spruce Ridge Gardens is the most recent development to bring some relief to Calgary renters. Adding much needed rental units to the city, the project is a partnership with the Province of Alberta under which 55 of the 109 available units are market rental and 54 are classified as affordable housing for qualified renters.

“The partnership with the Alberta government was a capital grant that allowed us to supply a bunch of affordable and have part of the capital costs granted to us in exchange for reduced rents,” said David McIlveen, director of Community Development for Boardwalk. “So it was a good deal for us and a good deal for Calgarians and a good deal for Calgary overall.”

While adding 109 much needing rental units to the city, the project represents just a drop in the bucket in terms of filling Calgary’s need for rental. With the vacancy rate still lingering close to one per cent and the city no closer to a resolution on the long-running secondary suites debate, it appears it’s on Calgary developers to fill the gap.

In addition to the upcoming properties listed by CBRE, the East Village – one of Calgary’s largest revitalization projects – is also slated to add a rental aspect. Although specifics have yet to be revealed, Calgarians should see an announcement sometime this year on the community’s first new rental apartment project.

According to Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC ) Marketing & Communications Vice President Susan Veres, the ability to attract young renters to the area is integral to the development of the community.

“As you know, there are those folks that invest in condominiums throughout the downtown and then repurpose them as rental but for purpose-built rental, we feel there’s a market, particularly for younger audiences, and we want to be very relevant in that way this year,” said Veres. “We feel that the condominiums that we’re building this year, they’re attracting people aged 30 and up but we want purpose-built rental to deal with the younger audience which we feel is important for the whole personality of the East Village.”

Along with the possibility of increased supply and more available avenues for renters to seek out viable options, there are other factors that could improve the outlook for Calgarians. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) latest rental report, the vacancy rate in the Calgary CMA is forecast to edge up from one per cent in 2013 to 1.2 per cent in 2014.

“Movement into homeownership, competition from the secondary rental market, and the completion of new rental units will also contribute to a slightly higher vacancy rate in 2014. With that said, a vacancy rate of 1.2 per cent is still relatively low, and property managers along with landlords will continue to see steady interest in their units this year,” said CMHC Senior Market Analyst Richard Cho.

According to the City of Calgary, the number of new Calgarians is also expected to ease, with net migration dropping from 20,000 in 2013 to roughly 15,000.

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