While most mountain towns in Canada are seeing decreases in average home prices, recreational housing prices in Canmore are continuing to surge.
Even after one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, the median price of recreational single-detached homes in the mountain town increased 9.6 per cent in the first 10 months of 2023, hitting a record of just more than $1.7 million, according to new data from Royal LePage.
Canmore is one of few ski towns in Canada that saw significant bumps in housing prices as interest rates begin to weigh on consumers.
Wildfires over the summer “prompted market disruptions” in the recreational property market, said Pauline Aunger, broker of record for Royal LePage Advantage Real Estate.
In Revelstoke, B.C., for example, the median price of a single-detached home fell a modest 1.1 per cent to $816,000, while prices in Sun Peaks outside Kamloops, B.C., dropped 21.3 per cent to about $1.2 million.
Prices for single-family detached units in Whistler, where the average home goes for a steep $3.6 million, dropped just 0.4 per cent, though Royal LePage expects that number to increase to five per cent over the next 12 months.
‘I do not anticipate we will see a lot of new product hitting the market’: Canmore broker
While the increase in Canmore’s house prices may appear significant, they pale in comparison to 2021, when the median price for a single-detached home leaped 25 per cent from $985,900 to $1,234,000.
In 2019, those homes were going for a median price of $906,270.
Recreational properties — which are designated as such by how owners use their home — make up around 40 per cent of Canmore’s current housing market, said Brad Hawker, a Canmore-based associate broker with Royal LePage Solutions.
Canmore hasn’t felt the direct brunt of wildfires like other areas, and the town has embraced an effective fire safety program, Hawker said.
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Inventory levels in Canmore remain 30 per cent below the 10-year average, keeping market conditions in favour of sellers.
Higher interest rates haven’t dissuaded buyers in the town, as most transactions are made without financing, Hawker said — a change from more than a decade ago when there was more speculation and turnover in the market.
“What I’ve seen is that most of the people that are purchasing . . . don’t have a mortgage,” Hawker said.
Total sales are reverting back to pre-COVID levels, the data show, down 17.2 per cent year over year.
Sales drop nearly 25 per cent in Invermere
Prices in Invermere, B.C., have fallen in line with national trends, seeing a modest 1.1 per cent increase for single-family detached homes in the recreational property market, while condo prices rose 1.3 per cent.
The current five per cent key interest rate has brought more homes online, Royal LePage said, as total sales have dropped 23 per cent year over year.
About 275 kilometres from Calgary, Invermere is a popular mountain town for southern Albertans looking for recreational property.
The B.C. Interior community spent much of the summer cloaked in smoke and more than 1,000 properties in the region faced several evacuation alerts due to nearby wildfires.
The Horsethief Creek wildfire, 10 kilometres west of Invermere and seven kilometres north of Panorama Mountain Resort, brought smoke in and out of the town for most of August. No homes or parts of the town were damaged by the fire.
Demand has remained consistent throughout the year despite the wildfires, said Barry Benson, broker at Royal LePage Rockies West Realty. But clients have found it difficult to sell their properties, he said, as smoke drifted in from nearly all directions this summer.
At Big White, the devastating wildfires that hit Kelowna meant insurance policies couldn’t be issued, leading to hesitant buyers and a full month-long disruption to the local recreational market.