The consensus among realtors is that Edmonton’s condominium market is still flat. The
REALTORS® Association of Edmonton Report on the Greater Edmonton Area reveals that new
Edmonton real estate listings and inventory jumped up in May − the highest levels seen in 10
years. For the first time this year, May finished with more listings than last May did. The first
four months of 2017 showed lower supply and higher demand than last year, but the latest
market statistics now indicate an opposite trend.
For James Mabey, REALTORS® Association of Edmonton Chair, optimism reigns: “We are in
the middle of our busiest season for real estate. More sellers are entering the market and are
motivated to move their properties before the summer months, which provides the best selection
of properties for buyers who are actively looking and taking advantage of the increased number
of listings typical for this time of year.”
The report calculated that the average condo sale price is $250,818 in May, down from $258,494
or a decrease of 2.69 per cent, compared to April 2017. Out of 1,277 condo listings in May 2017,
only 449 were sold. Average prices for duplexes and row houses decreased to $344,406, a 3.75
per cent decline from April 2017, and a 1.52 per cent dip from May 2016.
Inventory continued to increase for May 2017 and is up 10.16 per cent over April 2017, and
increased 4.33 per cent relative to May 2016. New listings increased 16.21 per cent relative to
April 2017, and increased 15.09 per cent, compared to May 2016.
The report notes that average days on the market remained stable, decreasing slightly for most
categories in May. Condominiums increased to 62 days on the market from 60 days in April
2017 and May 2016.
Potential opportunities for students:
One source notes that liberals are anxious to move money faster to deal with Edmonton’s critical
social/affordable housing backlog, but the decreased condo sales and more options to buy might
also garner real estate opportunities for students attending the city’s universities and community
Some industry agents agree that condos are a hard sell, because of the public’s perception of
condo and strata fee escalations, but these scenarios belong to condos that are not well-
maintained and do not apply to the majority of condos for sale.
Nevertheless, condo sales have been flat now for three years. With lower prices and more
selection, sources believe that the market will bounce back soon. It may, in fact, be an opportune
time for parents or developers to think in terms of accommodating students’ housing needs.
Parents might consider a condo purchase for their student-children:
Many parents who want to see their children attend higher education are also burdened by their
children’s housing expenses. Some parents might follow what others have done: provide the
down payment on a condo and have their children rent from them. The advantage is that parents
help their children get into the real estate market and establish credit, while securing an
investment or retirement property for themselves. The decision many parents face is who to put
on the title and how to finance the property, so, consulting with an accountant, lawyer or realtor
prior to any final decisions is paramount.
During the consultation, keep in mind that if the condo is in the parent’s name as a secondary
residence, they might end up paying more than they bargained for in capital gains tax that kicks
in at resale time, assuming the condo increases in value.
In addition, if the child is making rental payments, ensure they can actually afford to do so, and
don’t forget to factor in property taxes, condo fees and utilities.
As part of real estate best practices, consider the condo purchase as a long-term investment and
don’t expect to make a profit after a year or two. While the child is attending university or
college, definitely hold onto the property for the length of time they are in school.
One expert notes that buying the condo as rental property has the advantage that the interest on
the mortgage is fully tax deductible, including the interest on a borrowed down payment, and
condo owners are able to deduct 100 per cent of interest costs against income. The downside: the
treatment of the capital gains tax could impact the advantages. Professional realty help and
answers prior to your decision to buy is again emphasized.
Should a parent go the condo-as- rental-property route, the children could be given permission to
sublet during the summer months, especially for those where Edmonton is not their principal
home city, or they need to move out of the area temporarily for work. In this scenario, subletting
over the summer serves as a practical way to keep rent revenue flowing without interruption until
the child returns to college or university. The summer months prove a popular time for students
to sublet to other responsible students.
Student as principal buyer:
Another option cited is for the parent to arrange to have the child on the title as the principal
buyer and the parent(s) as co-signor. The property is, then, considered a principal residence and
not a revenue property, which means that the interest is not deductible, but neither will parent(s)
need to deal with any capital gains tax.
The future of unique, affordable mini-condos:
Edmonton may well lead in unique and affordable condo concepts, such as The University of
Alberta’s 230-square- foot condo that was built as a model inside its industrial design studio.
In March 2017, the University of Alberta asked for feedback from the public about how such
spaces could fit into the lives of Albertans. The tiny condo was designed and installed by
associate professor and tiny-home builder Tim Antoniuk in the University’s Micro Habitation
The grand opening was held for developers, policymakers, and students wanting to live in the
city’s core, and their thoughts were solicited about the tiny design, featuring a folding bed, a
moveable bathroom wall to create more living space, and tables that could be extended or tucked
A tiny inner-city condo, inspired by Antoniuk’s design, could cost as little as $150,000.
While the tiny-house movement has its foundation in the United States, the actuality of smaller,
often more environmentally friendly homes has recently become more popular with Edmonton
property owners, such as the planned community in Big Valley, population 350 − albeit 220
kilometres south of Edmonton. The neighbourhood intends to build a subdivision containing 22
undersized lots, measuring 30 by 80 feet − considerably smaller than conventional lot sizes in the
village, measuring approximately 50 by 120 feet.
With a tiny home costing considerably less than conventional houses, a build of this type just
might catch on as an alternative to red-hot markets, especially for downsizers, students and new
Zoocasa is a real estate brokerage based in Toronto.
Sheila O’Hearn is a freelance and creative writer, and has worn many hats throughout her career, from general staff reporter to magazine editor. She has a keen interest in business entrepreneurship and currently writes for several outlets. Visit her at LinkedIn for more info.