According to Money sense…
Anyone who’s been to or lived in Edmonton will tell you: the big West Ed Mall isn’t the city’s main attraction. “There’s so much more to Edmonton,” explains Mark Slobodan, realtor with RE/MAX Excellence. Considered the blue collar city of Alberta’s oil patch, much of the wealth comes from tradespeople who work in the oil sands. But locals also know that the city has the distinction of being Alberta’s cultural, governmental and educational centre. The University of Alberta (UofA) makes its home here, and the city’s famous nickname—“Canada’s Festival City”—is due, in part, to the vast number of festivals that are part of the city’s thriving arts scene, most of which is centred around Whyte Avenue (otherwise known as 82nd Avenue).
Still for anyone who lives or works in Edmonton the key to a good quality of life is access to Anthony Henday Drive—the ring road that connects all corners of this rapidly growing Albertan city. “The ring road drastically changed how people lived and worked in Edmonton,” explains Slobodan. “Before you lived near where you worked.” But that’s changed in the last 15 years since construction on this road first began and that’s meant that neighbourhoods in close proximity to the Henday (as it’s commonly referred to) continue to gain in popularity. It’s the primary reason our No. 1 zone topped the list. Located in the northeast quadrant of Edmonton, the communities of Montrose and Newton are just minutes from the ring road—as well as the Rexall Centre, home of the Edmonton Oilers. In fact, developers already started to update the northern section of these two neighbourhoods, the area closest to transit, but it’s still possible to buy an older bungalow for about $275,000.
City: Durham/Oshawa (Ont.)
Average home price (2014): $387,492
Average home price ratio to average rent (Price to rent ratio): 1.29
Time to buy in years: 3.7
Home sales to new listings: 70.6
1-year price appreciation: 9.7%
5-year price appreciation: 7.3%
10-year price appreciation: 6.9%
Average 5-year rent increase: 13%
Rental vacancy: 1.8%
Discretionary income levels: $47,698
Average GDP growth 2010 to 2014 (%): 2.1
Projected GDP growth for 2015/2016 (%): 2.5
Current unemployment rate (2014) (%): 7.9
Previous year’s unemployment rate (2013) (%): 8.0
For home buyers who want to be a little closer to the art-scene action consider our No. 2 pick: the neighbourhoods of Ritchie, Hazeldean and King Edward Park. “It’s also the only area in the southeast to ride along the riverbank,” says Slobodan, “and anything in the riverbank valley commands top dollar.” But, being on the tail-end of the trendy side of 82nd Avenue also has its advantages: these communities haven’t appreciated in value as quickly as Belgravia, Queen Alexandra, and Garneau—all neighbourhoods in close proximity to the UofA and to the hip part of Whyte Avenue. Our experts feel there is still room for prices to appreciate in these Zone 17 neighbourhoods due, in part, to city officials rezoning places like King Edward Park for redevelopment.
“City officials realized that they needed to redevelop and revitalize the city’s core and the only way to do that is to attract families,” explains Slobodan. “They started with King Edward Park, where they let development have a bit of a free rein.” That’s meant that first-time home buyers have been competing heavily with developers to snatch up the 700 to 800 square-foot bungalows priced, on average, at just under $423,000.
Home buyers and real estate investors should also keep in mind, however, that the City of Edmonton isn’t just focused on redeveloping residential neighbourhoods. Over the last few years there’s been a push to redevelop the city’s downtown core into a commercial and residential hot spot. This redevelopment is anticipated to pull housing prices up, even if continued oil prices are low or stagnant. Just last year Edmonton Oiler’s owner, Daryl Katz, announced the development of the Stantec building—a 62-storey mixed use building that will house 1,700 employees of Stantec engineering, planning and architecture firm, as well as 33 floors of residential condo units. Considering the city’s push to develop and create a vibrant downtown core, anything in the urban northwest will be of value, says Slobodan.