An artist’s rendering of the Capella development by Brookfield Residential slated for University District.
Supplied / Postmedia
Calgary’s new multi-family home market finished of 2018 with rising sales, pointing to greener pastures ahead for the segment that has struggled since the downturn.Urban Analytics released its year-end numbers this month, showing sales increased by 16 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the third quarter.“Still, it’s a 10 per cent decrease when you look at the data year over year,” says Kimberly Poffenroth, vice-president of business development and market analytics at Urban Analytics.Total sales for the fourth quarter of 2018 came in at 831 units, including townhouses and apartment condominiums. By comparison 928 units sold in the final quarter of 2017.Poffenroth says the difference in numbers year over year is likely the result of fewer launches in 2018 compared with 2017.“In the fourth quarter of 2017, there were 17 projects launches, while there were only 10 in the same quarter in 2018,” she says.“That impacts sales because you typically see the highest numbers of sales in the first couple of months of a project launching.”While higher borrowing costs remain headwinds, as well as a struggling economy, she says builders have adjusted with more price-conscious product.“Close to the university are among the hot areas that we’ve seen consistently do well throughout last year,” she says.Among the developments that have seen strong sales is Brookfield Residential’s Capella.“It’s a beautiful design of products and I think it’s going to attract a range from first-time homebuyers to downsizing boomers.”The University District has also drawn interest from foreign buyers. Projects like Avi Urban’s August are attractive, she adds, seen “as investments along the lines of ‘If my kid goes here, that’s great, and if not, we can rent it out.’”Yet it’s not just lower priced units that are proving popular. Mid-range product aimed at downsizing boomers has also done well. This group, she adds, is typically not affected by the stricter mortgage lending rules put in place early last year.“These buyers also tend to be looking for larger spaces.”Downsizers are often seeking condominiums where they entertain guests along with additional bedrooms, parking spaces and storage space — all of which add to the price tag, Poffenroth says.“We have seen some projects that are really catering to downsizers, and they are seeing success in it,” she says, pointing to the Views in Cougar Ridge, by Statesmen Group of Companies.All the recent activity also indicates the possibility of newfound strength in the market for this year.While the first few months are likely to be flat, compared to the same span last year, “by the third quarter we anticipate an increase in sales as inventory gets absorbed and new projects roll out,” she says.Yet growth will likely remain uneven with some areas and projects faring better than others, Poffenroth says.“And there remains a lot of concern that some of the issues we were dealing with last year — the impact of the stress test for mortgages and rising interest rates — will continue to weigh on the market going forward.”