Navigating real estate challenges in Calgary and beyond

by Tanya Eklund

(AJNews) – Calgary, a city with a storied history of boom and bust cycles, has weathered economic uncertainties since the early 1900s, largely tied to the fluctuating fortunes of the oil industry. The resilience of its people was tested in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash and again during the oil boom from 2012 to 2014. However, October 2014 marked a turning point when the city faced adversity, leading to five years of shared stories of loss, bankruptcies, and a surge in mental health challenges.

In 2022, Calgary began to emerge from the shadows, witnessing a resurgence of vibrancy. Beyond economic factors, the city’s appeal expanded beyond job opportunities, with a newfound reputation as a destination for families seeking a high quality of life. The oil industry diversification efforts and the influx of new tech industries played a role, but the city’s allure went beyond that. Calgary became a global destination, attracting people looking to raise families, find affordable homes, and enjoy the proximity to the breathtaking mountains.

By 2024, Calgary’s population soared to 1,665,000, marking a 1.52% increase from the previous year. This growth trend continued, with a 1.8% increase from 2022 and a 1.9% rise from 2021. Alberta’s highest median after-tax income in Canada added to the city’s appeal, especially when compared to the soaring costs in places like Toronto and Vancouver. The ability to work remotely further fueled the influx of residents, turning Calgary into a sought-after destination.

Having moved to Calgary 23 years ago, I’ve witnessed the city’s evolution and am deeply passionate about its people and potential. However, rapid growth presents challenges, including escalating housing prices, a shortage of affordable rentals, and strains on healthcare and infrastructure. These concerns resonate daily, as clients express frustrations in securing homes amid intense demand, reminiscent of the multiple-offer scenarios and over-list-price bids of yesteryears.

Builders are racing against time, but the demand is outpacing supply, leading to reminiscent scenes of past boom times. Land has become a precious commodity, echoing the challenges of the 1970s boom and the subsequent 1980s bust. Despite these challenges, Calgary stands strong, and the prospect of continued growth is promising if migration persists.

While we navigate the complexities of a growing metropolis, reminiscent of building a company, challenges are inevitable. The current real estate landscape mirrors the gold rush days, with a sense of urgency and opportunity, but also the risk of rapid change. Gratitude fills each day as we revel in the safety, education, bustling grocery stores, and friendly citizens that Calgary offers. As my mother wisely says, “This too shall pass,” but for now, I choose to remain grateful for the moment in our city and country.

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