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February 01, 2019

Real estate insider - Airdrie’s affordability

When it comes to price point, Airdrie homes have a big edge over Calgary

Mario Toneguzzi

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It’s hard to imagine, but in 1977 Airdrie had a population of only 2,265 people.

In 2017, the city’s population had ballooned to 64,922. That explosive growth has been the underpinning of Airdrie’s housing market as it has grown lock step with the burgeoning population.

In fact, in recent years, Airdrie was one of the fastest growing communities in Alberta and Canada with an average annual growth rate of about 7.5 per cent.

One of the key factors driving housing demand in Airdrie over the years has been affordability. It has become a great option for people to save money on a home purchase as opposed to buying in the City of Calgary. The numbers tell the tale. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the 2018 benchmark price — which is the price of a typical home in the market — was $496,792 in Calgary for a detached home. In Airdrie, that price was $369,042.

“I still think it holds true that people can come out here and get a little bit more value for their dollar than in the City of Calgary,” says Kent Rupert, Team Leader of Airdrie Economic Development. “We also have all the services that people need now. Ten, 15 years ago, we didn’t have all the services that the residents need. There’s hardly anything that you can’t get from a retail commercial side in
Airdrie that you can’t get in Calgary.”

Current growth projections predict Airdrie to grow at a constant rate over the next 25 years to a projected population of over 110,000 by 2040.

Also, Airdrie is known for its young population as 78 per cent of residents are under the age of 50, 35 per cent are between the ages of 25-44. It has become a growing and family-oriented community.

The demographic trends have been the driving force in the housing market for Airdrie. In 2008, the city had 12,699 housing units which grew to 21,027 by 2018 with projected growth to 32,840 by 2038.

Traditionally, Airdrie was a community dominated by single-detached homes but that dynamic has slowly changed over time as more multi-family dwellings have entered the market.

“About five or six years ago there was a bit of a shift in the market. There was more of a need for multi-family from the market side. I also think from a lifestyle side you’re starting to see a lot of
Millennials or young families or empty nesters, they’re all wanting something that they can live in, lock up and leave because we are becoming more of a mobile society,” says Rupert.

“And as the city grows we want to make sure we have the housing option for all different demographics right across the board.”

Last fall, Airdrie unveiled and launched its new 10-year economy strategy which is designed to cultivate a sustainable economic future. Its vision is of Airdrie becoming “The Place to Be for businesses and
talent in Western Canada.”

The strategy, themed “Tapping into Airdrie’s Potential,” defines three key objectives to build on Airdrie’s strengths, address the city’s challenges and seize opportunities — The Place to Be, Right for
Business and A Connected Community.

“It’s no secret that Airdrie is a fantastic community,” says Rupert. “This strategy is about embracing what makes Airdrie great and building on our vast potential. We want to ensure we have a stable and
sustainable economy while still maintaining our community’s good quality of life in the years ahead — that’s what this work is all about.”

Don Campbell, senior analyst with the Real Estate Investment Network, says Airdrie’s market is in a unique physical and economic position.

“Although it has felt some strong headwinds, and has felt the impact of the financing rule changes like the rest of the Calgary area, it has held up a bit better than many — which means that when
demand does increase, it may not show as much of a statistic turnaround that other areas more negatively affected will show,” says Campbell.

“Airdrie’s location is its key. Close to the growing economic region of the Calgary airport and its surrounding developments. That area of northeast Calgary continues to grow as a source of job growth and
stabilization. Young families are choosing, both on the purchase and rental side of the market, to live in Airdrie given its home style mix.”

James Cuddy, senior analyst with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, says Airdrie is really facing the same challenges that the City of Calgary is seeing right now in the housing market in terms
of elevated supply levels combined with lower demand levels.

“But I think what really makes Airdrie an attractive place if you look back in the type of housing that’s being built out there, a lot of it is singles. In fact, in 2018, there’s been no new apartments built.

This really goes to show that individuals are certainly moving to Airdrie seeking that lifestyle of having a single-detached dwelling and at the same time they can attain a single for a much more affordable price than say in Calgary,” he says.

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