The pandemic forced many people to sit at home. And think. And think some more. People thought about what they wanted out of their lives.
And many people in Canada’s most expensive cities came to the same conclusion: It wasn’t worth it to live in a place where mortgage payments or rents ate up way too much of the monthly paycheques. With more people working from home, many recognized they no longer had to live close to their workplaces. They could go forward with more choices in their lives. They could choose to live in places that were more affordable.
Edmonton’s developers and homebuilders are seeing the effects of this mini-boom caused by former Vancouverites and Torontonians who have said “enough” when it comes to the prohibitive housing prices in those cities.
“Edmonton is still the biggest cheap city in Canada; we are seeing tons of people moving here from Ontario,” said Rohit Gupta, in a panel discussion held this spring by the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Edmonton branch. The president of the Rohit Group of Companies says that, even though costs for material and labour are skyrocketing, he doesn’t expect the move-to-Edmonton trend to cool. A house that was $360,000 before the pandemic may cost over $500,000 now, but that’s a bargain to people coming from spots in Ontario or B.C. where seven-digit house prices don’t even earn second glances, despite the cooling markets in those cities.
Emmett Hartfield, owner of real-estate analyst company Intelligence House, said that, despite rising pressures from interest rates, lately it’s been common to see homes for sale in Edmonton “go for $60,000 to $80,000 over asking,” and that many properties don’t last on the market for more than a week. To long-time Edmontonians, that seems like an overheated market; to someone coming from Toronto or Vancouver, it’s still softer than what they’re used to.