Calgary housing vacancy reaches 12-year high

by Ephraim Vecina25 Jul 2016
Over 20,800 units in Calgary stood unoccupied as of April, representing a dramatic 67 per cent year-over-year increase in vacancy levels in a city long struggling with a weak energy segment and growing unemployment.
April’s vacancy rate of 4.3 per cent is the highest since 2004’s 4.33 per cent, as reported by Reid Southwick of Postmedia News.
The numbers came in the wake of the results of the city’s latest civic census, which found that more people departed Calgary than moved in despite the April 2016 population growing marginally to 1.2 million.
Increased unemployment stemming from more layoffs in the oil and commercial sectors have driven this deterioration, and fed into a vicious cycle of declining prices.
“The trends are pointing to toward easing pricing,” Calgary Real Estate Board chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie said. “There continues to be weak demand. Supply levels are maybe not increasing at the same rate but they’re still rising.”
“We’re seeing more inventory,” Lurie added. “The overall weakness is partly because we don’t have those migrants coming in, so housing demand is fairly weak, too, and we’re seeing that reflected in our sales.”
Approximately 6,000 listings were up in Calgary in June, the most since 2011.
Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) made predictions along similar lines, with a forecast of 7 per cent vacancy in Calgary’s rental apartments by fall.
“We’re seeing less demand and more supply,” CMHC market analyst Richard Cho said. A new CMHC report on the status of overbuilding and overpricing in the city is expected this week.

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