How COVID-19 Helped Create a Surge in the Edmonton Real Estate Market                     

Starting in June 2020 and accelerating through July and August, the Edmonton Real Estate market saw an increase in sales activity since this time last year. Actually, we haven’t seen sales this high in the month of August in the greater Edmonton since the boom in 2006. So, what gives? We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, Alberta’s economy (and Canada’s economy for that matter) feels totally uncertain and the government policy changes and spending seem astronomical. So, WHAT GIVES?!

There are a few factors that I believe are at play here to help drive this sudden demand in our real estate market, but before I get to those let’s take a brief look back at how this year unfolded.

In March of this year, our kids school year was cut short due to the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases. We were told to isolate and avoid contact with the public as much as humanly possible to flatten the curve. We stayed home. A LOT. My family barely left home except for the essentials, as I’m sure was the case for you as well. Being a realtor, I was deemed an essential service and cautiously continued working, but I have to say that the real estate activity in Edmonton was dismal during the early days of COVID. As an industry there was a lot of uncertainty about what the future would hold for the 2020 real estate market in Edmonton. Of course, there will always be reasons why people need to buy or sell a home, be it death or birth or career changes that take us to new places, but I think the consensus was that 2020’s real estate market was likely going to struggle.

Fast forward a couple of months to the middle of May. COVID numbers were starting to subside, social distancing and improved personal hygiene practices were working well towards flattening the curve and people were collectively exhaling a bit. Just a bit. The Province of Alberta felt confident to start phase 1 of the economic relaunch that allowed some businesses to reopen, with restrictions, in order to restart our economy. As this relaunch continued well into mid-June, the Alberta Government decided things were going so well that it would be prudent to initiate phase 2 of the relaunch and allow more businesses to reopen (with restrictions) in time for summer! YAY! Phase 2 allowed everyone to get back to some level of normal and maybe even enjoy the few summer months we get here in Edmonton, whether that meant a staycation in our beautiful city, or road-tripping within Canada. And we’ve been parked in phase 2 ever since.

So, with all of this upheaval, why the hell did the Edmonton real estate market see a sudden surge in activity, and why does it continue to stay active even now in the middle of September when the market is typically starting to quiet down?

Well, as previously mentioned, I think there are a couple factors driving this anomaly. 

1)    Interest Rates

Firstly, interest rates have been at an all time low. Like… seriously low. For example, as I write this, a 5-year fixed rate is somewhere around 1.84-1.99%. Seriously, these rates are bananas! I remember hearing my parents talk about rates in the 10% and higher range. To see under 2% is like FREE MONEY. If you are not in a position to buy a new home, it’s worth exploring a refinance to lock in these rates because they definitely won’t last forever. I don’t foresee them going up any time soon, but it’s just a matter of time before they start trying to bring them back up to what they consider more “normal” standards.

2)    Re-evaluated Priorities 

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this whole quarantine-pandemic situation has been a huge eye-opener about where our priorities have been and where they should be. While stuck in our homes for a few months straight, many of us began to re-evaluated what was important, and decided to make some changes. Changes that even included where they lived. For example, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard from clients these past few months that their condo, or small starter home with small outdoor space, just wasn’t cutting it during the isolation phase of this experience. Many felt trapped and confined, and maybe even a bit stir-crazy inside their current homes. They started to glare at their floorplans, started to resent their walls. Many of these people decided to change those walls. And hey, why not? It’s not like anyone’s travelling this year anymore, so why not make that real estate change you’d been thinking about? Seize the day! My community came alive. People turned off their devises, likely to escape the depressing headlines, and headed outside. In my opinion, if there was one positive from all of this, this was it!

3)    Change Brings Opportunity

And boy have things changed for many of us. The reality is, it is a fantastic time to buy, or do that move-up purchase you’ve been needing. I’m sure you’ve heard a family member or someone you know tell you “if only I’d purchased at such’n such time,” or “wow, the Smiths sure cleaned up when they bought that place during the (insert societal upheaval of the decade here).” Well, this certainly feels like one of those times. Of course, nobody has access to the crystal ball of prosperity, nor can anyone predict what awaits us all over the next few years, but with the excellent inventory levels, incredible interest rates, and a splash of uncertainty in the government… dang! I don’t think I’ve seen a better time to take that leap into the real estate market. If your job is secure, it really doesn’t get much better than this. Especially for those move-up buyers. If you own an entry level home and want to upgrade, it is just about the perfect time for you to consider it. In preferred locations we are seeing a high amount of activity (with dwindling inventory) in the sub-$450,000 price ranges and a high level of inventory and softening prices in the $500,000+ range, which allows for a high likelihood of successful sale of your current home, and a great deal on the purchase of your new home. People who’ve been considering selling from the sub-$450,000 home in order to move into that forever home in the $500,000+ range, the stars have certainly aligned in your favour. But there are clearly amazing opportunities for everyone in this current real estate climate. Good times indeed! 

Now, I do have to add that not all of Edmonton is seeing good times for real estate sales. Certain price ranges and locations are doing much better than others. This isn’t boom-time in Edmonton, but there certainly is activity. The sellers that are having the best luck now are in a good location and are priced appropriately and show better than the competition. This is important to note as I don’t want you to think that just because you list it for sale, it will sell. The reality is, it still needs a high level of preparation and advanced marketing to be successful. Also, the apartment-style condo market is a tough SOB and requires prudent planning and realistic expectations for success. 

I hope this has helped shed some light on what's been going on out there in Edmonton’s real estate market over the past few months, and if you have any questions, or would like some advice tailored to your specific needs, I would love to chat.

Stay safe out there!


Posted by Corey Sylvester on


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