Calgary’s luxury homes market outperformed larger markets in 2023

More growth is expected in 2024 for the luxury home market.

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Canada’s luxury market plateaued last year in major markets, with Calgary being a notable outlier.

That’s the recent finding of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada after examining high-end resale real estate sales in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary in 2023.

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Nationally, luxury sales in aggregate were “subdued” — though a summer surge illustrated pent-up demand still potentially in the market, the realty firm noted in a recent report.

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“But Calgary has a beacon of economic strength and, in turn, led all major luxury markets across Canada last year for growth,” says Don Kottick, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

“And it looks like it will continue this year.”

Sotheby’s analysis points to the province’s strong economy, growing 2.3 per cent in 2023, among the best in the nation. That helped fuel interprovincial migration that has outpaced all other provinces last year.

Both factors were tailwinds for Calgary and Edmonton resale markets, but Calgary’s luxury market has drawn the lion’s share of luxury buyers, Kottick says, noting the city often leads trends for real estate in the province.

Sotheby’s did not look at Edmonton data, but in Calgary it found sales over $1 million grew 13 per cent year over year with ultra-luxury homes worth $4 million or more growing 50 per cent last year over 2022.

In contrast, luxury sales in the Greater Toronto Area, which start at $4 million, were down 20 per cent by the end of 2023 over 2022.

Vancouver’s luxury market saw sales up eight per cent in 2023 from 2022 for homes $4 million and more. Its average price for all homes as well as Toronto’s is typically more than $1 million, and significantly more expensive single-family homes, according to Canadian Real Estate Association data.

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Montreal — a lower cost luxury market like Calgary where the segment begins at $1 million — saw sales decline 14 per cent, Sotheby’s found.

Of the more than 1,400 luxury transactions in Calgary last year, 88 per cent were for single-family detached homes. Yet high-end condominium apartment sales were the fastest growing housing segment at 26 per cent for the city.

That bucks the national trend with Sotheby’s noting increased interest in single-family luxury homes in the largest city centres, Kottick says.

“That’s something we saw across the board,” with the exception of Calgary — which saw strong demand for all types of luxury homes.

Calgary attached homes — row and semi-detached — also grew 14 per cent in the $1 million-plus range, Sotheby’s notes.

Most transactions occurred in the sub-$4-million price range with only nine properties selling last year for more than $4 million. No homes over $10 million sold in Calgary last year.

Among the most sought after luxury properties in Calgary and region are “modern farmhouse style” homes, says Rachelle Starnes, realtor with Coldwell Banker, Mountain Central/The Starnes Group.

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“These are often acreage homes with outstanding views,” adding luxury buyers are also seeking maintenance-free styled homes, along with inner-city infills.

Early into 2024, demand has remained strong, Starnes adds.

“In the 25 years we have been selling homes, we have never experienced a January market this crazy with homes selling within days of being placed on the market.”

Calgary Real Estate Board statistics highlight this continued strength for luxury, showing 97 sales of $1 million or more took place last month, up from 57 in January in 2022 — an increase of more than 70 per cent.

The expectation is for sales to remain brisk for at least the next few months, Starnes says.

“Our prediction for luxury activity is for a very strong spring market.”

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