Canmore is among Canada’s most sought-after recreational communities

Canmore has seen a rise in people who can work from home moving to the mountain town.

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Log-cabin homes are certainly not a rare sight in the mountain town of Canmore.

Yet these homes often aren’t your standard cabins; nor is Canmore a run-of-the-mill Canadian cottage community.

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Still, the mountain town of about 14,000 just outside Banff National Park is among the nation’s premier recreational communities, as highlighted in a recent report.

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“The three most expensive rec property communities in Canada are Canmore, Whistler and the Muskoka region in Ontario,” says Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer of Royal LePage Canada. The recently published Royal LePage 2024 Spring Recreational Property Report shows that the average price of a recreational single-family detached home — a cottage, presumably — grew about five per cent to $1,238,900 in Alberta in 2023, largely skewed by sales in the busiest and largest recreational community, Canmore.

There, the average price for a single-family home grew about four per cent to reach $1.56 million at the end of 2023.

Although still less than Whistler, where single-family home prices jumped about 23 per cent to about $4.4 million, Alberta’s overall average price led all provinces, including British Columbia where the average was nearly $1.1 million at the end of last year.

Overall in 2023, the average price nationally fell one per cent to $646,000 for single-family homes among recreational communities.

According to the report, this year is likely to be better for recreational properties.

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Alberta properties, for example, are forecast to increase in price four per cent to reach $1.288 million for a single-family home

For all of Canada, the average price is expected to rise five per cent to $678,930 for a recreational single-family home, which is less than the overall average price for cities and other regions in Canada. In February, for example, the Canadian average price of a single-family home — not just rec properties — was $792,500.

Soper notes recreational properties were among the most negatively affected for sales and prices when interest rates started climbing in 2022. The most significant impact has been on pricier waterfront properties, down nearly eight per cent to $1.075 million nationally in 2023.

These are typically homes in sought-after communities, like British Columbia’s Okanagan. Its average price fell nearly 19 per cent to about $2.72 million.

Invermere, popular with Calgarians, also saw a drop of 11 per cent to $1.8 million.

Canmore is obviously not a lake community. As well, sales of single-family detached homes make up a smaller share of sales, says Brad Hawker, associate broker with Royal LePage Solution

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“The reason is the high price,” he says, noting a lot for a single-family home in the town can cost $1.5 million.

As such, only a select few buyers can afford to purchase single-family homes. Calgary Real Estate Board statistics from March show less than a quarter of the 44 resales in Canmore were single-family homes while apartments made up about half of all activity.

Overall, sales for all types grew about 22 per cent year over year, though down more than 50 per cent from record sales in March 2021.

Yet demand remains robust, given the benchmark price in Canmore grew nearly 12 per cent to $970,500.

Hawker notes the condominium apartment market is typically the most attractive due to the lower price and better supply. The Royal Lepage report notes that the average price for condominiums there climbed about 5.5 per cent last year to reach $685,000 in Canmore.

Canmore “will always have very limited supply” because of its geography — surrounded by mountains and limits on development, Hawker notes.

As well, its buyer pool involves more than people seeking recreational properties.

“Our demand comes from across Canada,” Hawker adds, noting many buyers, still able to work from home, are moving to Canmore to live year-round.

Others are already working in town and renting and may look to buy soon, Hawker says.

“Many first-time buyers here have been sitting on their hands, waiting for interest rates to come down.”

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