Real estate rental prices in Calgary are down and some say they may not be going back up any time soon. The city’s vacancy rate has nearly quadrupled over the span of just one year, according to the fall Rental Market Survey from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Average rental prices in Calgary have actually edged up slightly and remain the second-highest in Canada, behind only Vancouver. Despite the high vacancy rates, the average price for rent in Calgary has remained high. In fact, Alberta’s real estate market as a whole is bracing for the worst year it has had since the global financial crisis.
Tamer Antar who owns a two-bedroom condominium in Sunalta, told CBC News Calgary that he used to get $1,750 a month from renters for his inner city property in southwest Calgary. In December he listed it for only $1,600 and so far, he is not getting much interest. “Last year this time you would post something … you would post your place and get responses right away, same day,” Antar said. He said all that has changed. “I think I got three responses [last] month.”
Antar’s experiences are not unique to himself. As of early January, rental pricing on RentFaster.ca was down 11 to 18 per cent from this time last year.
Despite the great increase in available units, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary was up $10 from the previous year, with $1,332 being the average rent recorded in the fall Rental Market Survey report. The average rent for a two-bedroom condo is $1,500. Vancouver, is the only other city with a higher average rent, coming in at $1,360. The national average was for rent was $960.
Calgary’s rental-housing vacancy rate shot up to 5.3 per cent in October. That is an almost four-fold increase over the same period a year ago, when the rate was 1.4 per cent.
In 2015, much of the hardships in Calgary’s housing market was concentrated in high-end homes and condos, particularly in the city centre. Buyers instead looked to detached houses in less expensive neighbourhoods, which sent prices soaring in the Northern and Eastern parts of the city. The Calgary real estate board has reported that it expects prices to fall across all segments of the rental market this year, as job losses and wage cuts play a big impact on consumer spending, while a stagnant housing market hits jobs in the construction sector.
Unfortunately, the market fluctuations are all a part of owning property and renting it and right now, we are clearly in a renter’s market in Calgary. There are going to be great years for demand and pricing and there are going to be down years. Now, many rental owners in Calgary are starting to lower their rental prices and offering some form of an incentive to attract people. Although it’s a tough market right now, it isn’t the end of the world and there is hope that it will turn around soon.