Bank poll highlights Alberta investment opportunities

The national average for “Canadians feeling positive about their current financial situation today” is 64 per cent, suggests the survey of more than 2,000 people last November.

Still, some 72 per cent of Albertan respondents expressed the same confidence. That figure was considerably lower for B.C., where only 54 per cent said they were happy with their current financial situation. The assessment for Ontarians was 66 per cent – down six points from the Alberta figure.

The poll result may bolster property investor interest in the province, with one expert suggesting Alberta will likely remain a landlord’s market well into 2014.

“While home prices across the province are still in a slump, net in-migration and the country’s strongest wage growth are helping keep rents high across most of the province,” said Greg Head, co-author of The Canadian Investor’s Guide to Secrets of the Real Estate Cycle. “We’ve seen a real uptick in the number of renters.”

Those new workers, drawn by the province’s oil and gas industry, are renting rather than buying. Generally, they and other migrants don`t make that leap until after two years in a new market, said Head.

That’s created an advantage for landlords also benefiting from a shrinking jobless rate, now more than 2 percentage points below the national average. The phenomenon is also helping drive demand for a finite number of rental units.

In fact, as the country lost about 19,000 jobs in November, Alberta added nearly 3,000, with its own unemployment rate falling to 5 per cent.
That job growth, in a market without rent controls, means market forces have a free hand in setting prices, said Head, based in Calgary and a big proponent of Alberta property investment.

The party for Alberta’s cash-flow investors won’t likely end until the province’s hot jobs market reignites buyer demand for housing and renters show real signs of heading for the exit and toward homeownership, he told CREW Online. That would in turn drive up home prices and encourage more sellers to step into the market.

The increase in activity would also add a sense of urgency most potential buyers simply don’t have in the current market.

“I think we’ll be in the sweet spot in terms of ROI as long as values are relatively flat,” said Head.

Financing those deals may also be easier in Alberta, given number numbers from TD.

While its average mortgage LTV in Ontario remained at 50 per cent, that figure climbed to 57 for Alberta. The B.C. average, in fact, held steady at 48 per cent, with the other provinces recording a modest one percentage point climb, year over year.

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