Report rating Edmonton communities attracts criticism

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Where to Buy Real Estate in Canada 2022: Edmonton, compiled by Moneysense.ca and Zoocasa, aims to highlight communities with opportunities.

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A new study listing the Greater Edmonton Area’s top communities to buy a home paints an incomplete picture for buyers, says a local realtor.

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“This list seems to be mostly made up of fairly average, 20-year-old suburban neighborhoods and completely lacks more mature central neighborhoods that have been re-developing,” says Nathan Mol, realtor with Liv Real Estate in Edmonton. The list in question is Where to Buy Real Estate in Canada 2022: Edmonton, compiled by Moneysense.ca and Zoocasa, a national realty firm.

Its annual report, Where to Buy Real Estate in Canada, covers multiple cities, and the Edmonton portion examines more than 260 communities to rank the top 50, says Justin Dallaire, MoneySense.ca’s associate editor of real estate.

“We looked at benchmark home prices and our data is reflective of prices at the end of 2021.”

As well, the study included economic indicators such as median household income and education levels, he adds.

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Maplegrove in Sherwood Park topped the list with a benchmark price of about $403,000, and a whopping one-year growth in value of 329 per cent.

Mol questions this particular metric, noting it makes little sense given Maplegrove’s three-year growth — as noted in the Moneysense.ca report — grew by 12 per cent, and its five-year growth was 19 per cent.

“Common sense would suggest that no values ​​have increased by 329 per cent, or four times (the previous value) in one year.”

To verify the figure, he looked at Realtors Association of Edmonton (RAE) data for the community at the end of 2021 and found the benchmark price was actually $369,100.

To get such a significant increase in one-year price growth, the sale of a few luxury homes in the area likely skewed the data.

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“Yet, in fact, (Maplegrove) is a modest 1960s neighborhood.”

What’s more, based on its three-year price gain of 12 per cent, prices in 2020 would have had to plummet 75 per cent and then quadruple in 2021 to see a 329 per cent increase, he adds.

Yet Maplegrove isn’t the only spot on the list in Mol’s view.

“Second on their list, Mills Haven (also in Sherwood Park) was actually up five per cent in one year, not 117 per cent” as shown on the Moneysense.ca list, Mol says.

The community’s benchmark price is about $377,000 and has three- and five-year gains of three and one per cent, respectively, according to the list, again indicating the formula behind the study may be flawed, he says.

That said, not all top-ranking communities in the study saw these outsized gains. Terwillegar South, for example, ranked third out of 50 communities with a benchmark price of about $316,000. Yet its value fell over one year by seven per cent, by 12 per cent over three years and by 15 per cent over five years.

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“This ranking is a reflection of our attempt to balance price, price growth and value with economic factors,” Dallaire says.

Even communities at the bottom of the list are desirable for buyers, he adds.

“It’s not that Heritage Valley (ranked 50th) is the lowest valued area in Edmonton,” he says about the community in the city’s southwest with a benchmark price of about $451,000.

“There are actually another 200-plus neighborhoods that rank lower.”

Mol notes while the list could be illustrative and helpful, especially for individuals new to Edmonton looking to buy, it’s likely to provide an inaccurate picture for buyers.

“I get why they did this,” he adds. “If their methodology and execution were (better), then it would get a pass.”

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