The investment case for Alberta

by David Kitai on 29 Jul 2020

On the surface, Alberta doesn’t look like the best investment case in Canada. It's been hit hard by a slump in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. One Alberta realtor, however, says that going beyond the headlines and parsing through key datapoints will allow any investor to see that real opportunity exists in wild rose country.

Natasha Phipps, a realtor with CIR realty in Calgary specializing in investment properties, will be speaking at the Canadian Real Estate Wealth Investor Forum on the opportunities investors can find in Alberta. She says that economic indicators paint a better picture than the headlines might tell you and much of the diverse, educated, well-paid workforce that defined Alberta’s boom years continues to drive demand for rental housing, though in ways that some investors from other Canadian cities might not expect.

“Despite the challenges we've faced and how much things have changed, we are still seeing positive growth in many different industries as well as population growth,” Phipps says. “We also still have a very educated and diverse workforce and still have extremely high wages when compared to the rest of the country. There are educated people who can afford to pay good rent.”

Phipps focuses on areas now where she sees solid employment numbers among tenants. In Calgary she says that means the suburbs; areas like the Northeast of the city which has seen skyrocketing employment numbers disconnected from the oil and gas business and more tied to logistical operations based there and corporate head offices moving out of the core.

Phipps looks at five key indicators to make her case for Alberta: GDP, population growth, employment growth, interprovincial migration, and immigration. While the headlines might point to negativity across those metrics, Phipps says they still show positivity for the province. Those metrics, she says, point to increased demand for rental housing in the province.

A weaker provincial economy also offers opportunities. Phipps says that as developers look to drive demand, they’re taking suggestions from realtors and investors on the type of units to build. Where a Toronto developer might say ‘my way or the highway,’ developers in Calgary are much more inclined to accommodate diversity amongst product offerings.

One thing Phipps says will surprise non-Albertan investors is that the drivers of the real estate market in the province aren’t in downtown cores. Downtown Calgary, Phipps says, is one of the worst-hit parts of the province and while redevelopment opportunities abound there, investors looking to make rental income aren’t as able to quickly generate cashflow. Phipps says the suburbs are where the action is, where the paying employment persists and the wants of an educated workforce can be met.

In the wake of the pandemic she’s seeing growing interest in vacation properties out in the mountains West of Alberta, a market that’s also being driven by demand from the interior of B.C.

At the investor forum, Phipps will break down why investors should be taking a closer look at Alberta and how she can facilitate investment access for them.

“Alberta is great for an investor that is looking to get into the market at a lower price,” Phipps says. “Pre-COVID, we were seeing those recovery indicators where we had vacancy rates coming down and rental rates have gone up the last two years. Those are always the first indicators when you're seeing a switch in the local economy. This is a chance to take that opportunity.”

Oh, and there is no land transfer tax in Alberta and favorable landlord laws!

To hear from Natasha Phipps and other thought leaders in the real estate space, register for the Canadian Real Estate Wealth Investor Forum for free, here.   

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