Saskatoon market performance to dominate Western Canada—report

Saskatoon’s housing market performance should readily outpace that of other Western Canadian markets in the next few years, according to a report released earlier this week by the Real Estate Investment Network.

“Understand that if North Korea fires off some missiles and things, all bets are off,” REIN founder Don Campbell told CBC News. “But Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan as a whole, has food, fuel, fertilizer and farmers. Those four Fs definitely are going to be needed in the future.”

However, Campbell cautioned potential buyers to avoid acquiring until the right property enters the market.

“The next 18 months probably aren’t going to be pretty in the housing market anywhere in Saskatchewan,” Campbell said. “But the stability and the diversity and the age of the population are all indicating it's going to be one of the outperformers.”

REIN data indicated that with its lower-than-average GDP decrease of just 1 per cent in 2016, Saskatoon is in stark contrast to current market trends in other Western Canadian cities.

The expectation of steady growth is supported by numbers from the Royal Bank of Canada, which projected that Saskatchewan’s real GDP growth will be 1.8 per cent in 2017 and 2.3 per cent in 2018.

Still, potential weak points abound, as Saskatoon’s unemployment rate is now sitting at 8.4 per cent.

“Saskatoon is coming off two years where its economy contracted,” Conference Board of Canada senior economist Robin Wiebe said. “That’s because of oil but also weakness in other commodity prices, such as uranium and potash.”

Wiebe characterized the city’s housing demand as “relatively slack”, suffering from an oversupply of newly built condominiums (which remain empty).

“Saskatoon’s economy may have turned, or it may be in the process of turning, but if it were my money I wouldn't be investing in apartments in Saskatoon right now,” Wiebe explained.

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