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Calgary's Building Boom

Calgary's Building Boom

by Yvonne von Jena | May 14, 2018

New housing developments are popping up everywhere in Calgary; from the city centre to the inner-city and even in the suburbs, according to the CBC. Altogether, about 6,600 homes are being built in the next few years. Many of these are condos, as condo developers bet that Calgary's economy is on the rise. The expectation maybe not back to boom times, but towards one of sustained growth and a much more highly developed skyline.

Under Construction

A quick check with the City of Calgary and it turns out there are about 6,620 homes being built, give or take:

  • 15 condo construction sites in the city centre building 2,253 new homes
  • 50 sites in developed communities building 1,576 new homes
  • 23 condo construction sites in the developing communities building 2,693 new homes

Together, the above creates room for about 13,000 people, which is roughly the number of people who live in Brooks. Industry insiders and developers believe this will all get absorbed.

In addition to the above construction, there are another 128 condo projects that have the necessary permits although construction has not started yet.

Millennials and Retirees

There has been a shift in Calgarians' perceptions of condos over the years, notes Calvin Buss, president of Buss Marketing based on his over 20 years of experience marketing and selling condos in Calgary.

"The Calgary condo market has matured over the past two decades," he said. "They are no longer seen as affordable housing for those who can't afford a detached house." 

There are a variety of reasons for this. Condos:

  • Have become the new starter home for young professionals and couples
  • Are convenient for older folks
  • Have become trendy, especially in areas like Beltline, Bridgeland, Kensington and Inglewood
  • Are practical; a lot of downtown workers do not want to pay outrageous parking prices, so they buy a condo downtown and skip the car, or own their own spot

Basically, it comes down to two primary groups looking at buying condos these days — millennials and empty nesters – who want different things.  "In today's market, millennials want location and boomers want luxury," he said. "Both want the condo lifestyle."

Previous Busts and the Future

In past recessions, there have been condo developers who have gone bankrupt and walked away from half-finished projects. As reported in April 2017 by the Calgary Herald, Alberta’s boom and bust economy left Calgary with record numbers of newly built homes and condos that were sitting vacant as a massive stockpile of housing goes up for sale at the end of a recession. There were an estimated 2,000 new housing units that were unoccupied in the Calgary area as of March 2017, the biggest inventory on record, driven largely by construction of apartment-style condos. The dip is reflected in condo prices, as shown below in the RPS HPI.

There was also, historically, a bit of snootiness about condos, which were seen as lower down the homeowner rung. And certainly, in decades past, there was a far less diverse offering. However, today's major condo developers are much saying that they are better financed and also have more sophisticated methodologies for analyzing current and future markets. The future shall tell.