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Buying a house in Alberta these days is no small feat. If you’re considering a home purchase in any one of the many real estate markets across Alberta, you should get familiar with the average cost of homes first.
Let’s take a closer look at what home prices are doing in Alberta these days to help you make a more informed buying decision when purchasing a home.
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What Affects Home Prices?
There are so many factors that affect home prices, no matter where you happen to be looking:
- Location. You can make all sorts of changes to your home to increase its value, but there’s little you can do about its location. When it comes to housing prices, location plays a key role. And several things go into making a location desirable, such as proximity to employment, quality of schools, crime rate, local amenities, and proximity to roadways and public transit.
- Size of the home. Generally speaking, the more square feet that a home occupies, the higher the price. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general, you can expect a larger house to come with a higher price tag than a smaller house in the same area.
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- Condition of the home. A home that is in good condition will be valued higher than a home that is in poor condition.
- Upgrades and features. Certain upgrades can add a lot of value to a home, especially if they drastically improve the condition and appeal of the property.
- Local market. No matter what condition your home is in or the type of lot it sits on, the temperature of the local housing market will have a big impact on a home’s value. More specifically, the supply of homes in the area and the demand among buyers will determine how much a home will sell for. If there are few homes available in the market, for instance, and many buyers on the prowl for a home, prices will be higher.
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- Neighbourhood comparables. One of the best ways to determine the current value of a home is to find out what similar homes in the area recently sold for. Known as “comps,” these comparable properties are typically referred to when real estate professionals establish listing prices for homes they sell. Ideally, the properties assessed should be very similar to the subject home, be located within the same neighbourhood, and have sold no further back than 3 months to get an accurate idea of what a home is worth in today’s market.
Average House Prices of Alberta
The average price for a home in Alberta is $403,163 as of September 2020. That’s a 4.2% increase from the same month in 2019, when the average price was $386,815.
But the price for homes will vary from city to city, despite the average in the province. The following are the top 5 most expensive centres in Alberta to buy a house as of September 2020, along with their average home prices:
- Calgary – $415,200
- Fort McMurray – $382,224
- Grand Prairie – $334,732
- Edmonton – $323,100
- Lethbridge – $308,749
Comparing Average House Prices by Province
|Home Prices 2019||Home Prices 2020||Year-Over-Year % Change|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||$272,000||$278,500||2.4%|
|Prince Edward Island||$251,792||$297,290||18.1%|
How Do Alberta Home Prices Compare to the Rest of Canada?
Canada’s average home price is currently $604,211, which is much higher than Alberta’s average of $403,163. From September 2019 to September 2020, Canada’s average home price increased a whopping 17.5%, compared to Alberta’s year-over-year increase of 4.2%.
While Alberta’s home prices did not increase as much as Canada’s, it’s still a healthy rise. In fact, much of Canada has seen home price appreciation over the third quarter in 2020, particularly in Ontario, Quebec, PEI, and Nova Scotia where price gains are especially pronounced.
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How Much You Should Spend on a House?
For most Canadians, the price of a home must fit within their budget. Before you start searching for a new home, you’ll need to figure out how much you can afford for a home purchase. Here are some things to consider to help you determine how much you should spend on a house.
Detail All Incoming Expenses
A mortgage payment will be just one more bill to pay every month. Before you add that bill to the pile, you should take a tally of all the other expenses you have to figure out how much of your income you have left. Consider bills such as:
- Car loans
- Car insurance
- Student loans
- Personal loans
- Credit card bills
- Miscellaneous expenses
All of your expenses should be added up to give you a clear picture of how much you’re already spending every month. Then you can determine how much you have remaining from your monthly paycheque to dedicate to a mortgage payment.
Compare Your Expenses Relative To Your Income
Once you’ve determined what your current monthly expenses are, it’s important to determine how much of your income is left after all of your other financial obligations have been dealt with. Most financial experts agree that no more than 30% to 35% of your gross monthly income should be spent on housing expenses.
This is referred to as your gross debt service (GDS) ratio, which includes the principal, interest, taxes, and half of your condo fees, if applicable. A lower GDS is better, as it will leave you with more of a financial cushion when all bills are paid and will satisfy the requirements of your mortgage lender.
At the same time, you should not spend any more than 42% on total debt. This is referred to as your total debt service (TDS) ratio and includes things like credit cards, car loans, student loans, personal loans, and your mortgage. Again, the lower your TDS, the better.
Staying close to these recommended ratios will ensure that you can comfortably afford a mortgage and avoid becoming “house poor.” The last thing you want is to get stuck with a long-term mortgage that’s too much for your budget to handle, even if a mortgage lender is willing to approve you for it.
Calculate All Costs Of Owning A Home
Owning and operating a home comes with a list of costs that you’ll need to cover every month. It’s important to understand what these are and how much they’ll cost you. Here are some common expenses associated with owning a home:
Most likely, you’ve got a mortgage on your home, and if you do, your lender will insist that a home insurance policy is taken out on it. Even if your lender does not require home insurance as part of the deal, it would still be wise to have a policy in place anyway, as it can provide you with financial compensation if your home is ever damaged or broken into.
The fee you pay for property taxes will depend on your home’s location and value. Every jurisdiction has its own property tax rate, which is multiplied by the value of your home to give you the annual fee that you’ll have to pay.
In Calgary, the current residential property tax rate is 0.0075223%. If your home is currently worth $500,000, for example, your annual property taxes would be $3,761.15.
To keep your home comfortable and convenient, you’ll need things like running water, heat, and electricity, among other things. All the utility companies that service your home need to be paid so you can continue getting uninterrupted service.
Your home will need some upkeep to maintain its condition, which costs money. Failure to maintain your home could impact its value, so you don’t want to skip your regular maintenance-related chores.
Things break down, and when they do, they’ll need to be repaired or replaced. Things like your appliances, HVAC system, roof, windows, faucets, and other components will require attention at some point to keep them functioning the way they should. But repairs can be costly, so you should budget for them accordingly.
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One of the great things about living in a condo is that much of the maintenance and repair work that may be required is taken care of by property management. But there’s a fee to enjoy maintenance-free living that is covered by monthly condo fees. Every condo has its own condo fee rate, which is calculated by the square footage of your unit. So, if your condo unit is 1,000 square feet and your condo fee rate is $0.30 per square foot, your monthly condo fees will work out to be $300 per month.
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Buying a home in Alberta may be a bit more affordable than in other provinces across Canada, but it’s still not cheap. A home purchase requires careful consideration and a hard look at your finances and what you can afford. Be sure to crunch the numbers to assess your current financial situation to help you determine what you can comfortably afford to spend on a home in any one of Alberta’s beautiful cities.
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