Recreation properties remain strong market for Canmore

For most rec poperty communities across Canada, 2023 was a challenging year, though expectation is for growth in 2024.

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Canmore stood out among Canada’s recreational properties in 2023 as one of its priciest while also seeing growth as many of winter destination communities saw price declines, a new report has found.

“Coming out of 2021, which was a record year for sales in Canmore, 2022 settled into a little more than average but still busy market, and then 2023 has trended more toward the historical average for activity,” says Brad Hawker, associate broker and realtor at Royal LePage Solutions/The Hawker Betts Real Estate Team in Canmore. “It’s more like the 10-year pre-COVID average for sales volume this past year.”

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The recent Royal LePage inter Recreational Property Report shows Canmore led Canada for the highest median price of a single-family home at about $1.7 million, up nearly 10 per cent from 2023.

Percentage price growth was among tops in Canada, though less costly Quebec communities like Mont Grand Fonds and Mont Sutton saw 20-plus per cent growth.

As well, British Columbia’s Mount Washington/Comox Valley experienced nearly a 27 per cent rise in median price to nearly $1.1 million in 2023 from 2022. Calgary Real Estate Board statistics show sales in the mountain community were down about 16 per cent year to date by November.

Yet the mountain town’s prices grew regardless due to low supply, Hawker says.

“Inventory has been very low for two years — almost 50 per cent lower than the 10-year average.”

Even still, Canmore is among many recreational communities forecast to see a decline in median price in 2024 over 2023, estimated to be down 0.5 per cent to just under $1.7 million.

Yet the condominium segment may do better. In 2023, the median price of a condo was up about four per cent to $696,000, and it will see more activity than single-family homes because the segment has more supply in the resale market.

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Hawker notes single-family home sales growth will always be challenged because supply is continually tight in Canmore due to geographical restrictions along with development ones.

Canmore town council “doesn’t want more single-family home lots,” he adds, noting the preference for development is higher density multi-family housing.

That’s because the town is constrained by mountains, wildlife corridor considerations, Highway 1 and the Bow River, he adds.

“Also from a fiscal perspective, it’s better for Canmore financially because apartments and townhouses increase density, which require less infrastructure costs.”

The report made no forecast on the price of condominiums for the Rocky Mountain community for 2024, but Hawker expects it will remain strong.

“When you layer on someone coming here seasonally for recreation,” the lock and leave lifestyle of condos is more appealing than single-family detached home ownership for many recreational buyers.

That includes Edmontonians, says a realtor from Alberta’s capital city.

“A lot of people from Edmonton have property in Canmore,” says Tom Shearer, broker/owner of Royal LePage Noralta in Edmonton.

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Part of the attraction is easy access.

While about four hours’ drive from Edmonton, it’s among the most accessible mountain communities in Alberta and eastern B.C.

Overall, Canmore’s popularity is fuelled by out-of-province buyers and close proximity to a major airport in Calgary.

“It’s driving distance to Calgary, which is about an hour or less,” Shearer says.

Another reason for Canmore’s continued strength among recreational communities is the fact that so many buyers, particularly those of single-family detached homes, “are not interest rate sensitive,” Hawker says.

“They’re not dependent on mortgages, so higher rates do not have much of an effect on our market for those buyers, but first-time buyers are certainly affected.”

The report points to the impact of higher interest rates on recreational markets. In particular, it notes some communities seeing higher listings with more properties for sale as a result of many existing owners looking to cut costs as their primary residence mortgages costs have increased dramatically.

Still, with rates expected to come down in the second half of the year, many communities — especially affordably priced communities in Eastern Canada — could see more activity, it notes.

In Canmore, Hawker expects its reputation for its beauty and recreational opportunities will continue to draw out-of-province and international buyers.

“We expect to continue to see a lot of people coming to the market here either moving to live permanently in Canmore amid the growing work-from-home trend or retirement, or for part-time, recreational needs.”

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