Investors are cool with hot Alberta market

According to statistics provided by real estate boards in Alberta, home sales in the province came in at 4,476 in February, or just short of a 15% rise over the corresponding 2011 period.

At the same time, the province's average home price last month came in at $359,721, up 2% from the same month a year earlier and equal to the same percentage gain in the national average.

But the Alberta price tag is still more than $13,000 under the national one,  winning the interest of a growing number of investors from across the country.

A large part of the attraction is an influx of migrant workers who haven't yet had the time and the money to buy.

At the same time, prices remain low enough for investors looking to protect cap rates as they add to their portfolios.

“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.”

 Transplanted workers generally don`t make the leap to homeownership 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.

 Still, low interest rates and fears about coming mortgage rule changes may encourage some renters to get into the market now. Creeping home prices could also limit the number of renters, although not quite yet, said Head.

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

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