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Edmonton: Rent crunch to worsen, go below 1% vacancy

Rent crunch to worsen
Vacancy rate forecasted to dip to under 1%


Think the rental market is tight now? Just wait until next year.

That's when the apartment vacancy rate in Edmonton is forecasted to dip below the current 1% - making it that much harder for already frustrated renters to find a place to live.

"It's just getting retarded," said Jasmine, who asked her last name not be printed.


Jasmine said she's already spent more than six months trying to find a decent place for her and her fiance to rent with no luck.

For now, the couple has been living with her brother and mother in a three-bedroom government-subsidized housing unit.

They have been scouring the city for anything - but have found nothing in their price range, around $1,100.

"I graduated from college, but I'm still working two to three jobs just to supplement the rent payments," she said.

According to new numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the apartment vacancy rate for Edmonton is a minuscule 1%.

The rent crunch isn't expected to get any better with the agency pegging the rate next October at just 0.8%.

A limited supply of new rental buildings is keeping the market tight, according to the CMHC's outlook for Edmonton, released this week. Apartments being converted into condos is further keeping a stranglehold on renters.

Rates are staying high with the average rent for two-bedroom apartments at $950 a month, up from $877 a month in October 2006.

"With the rental rates being so high, you can only do so much," said Jasmine.

Making it worse, she has pets, and few places accept animals.

Meanwhile, house sellers are facing a crunch of their own.

With a growing inventory, high prices, and wary buyers, houses can be on the market for months. The CMHC predicts listing periods will get even longer in the new year.

"It's been slow," said Alana Schulte, whose Goldbar home has been up for sale since June.

"Shoppers are shopping around a lot more now. They're taking their time. I have had one couple who have come in four times now, but they're not in any rush to make an offer."

Originally listed at $450,000, in late August, she dropped her price to $400,000 to entice buyers. So far, there have been only lookers.

Schulte bought the house for $165,000 less than five years ago.

Home prices skyrocketed because of investors buying up properties, said realtor Abe Hering.


"The investors were causing the market to spiral."

Those investors have left the market, leaving mostly people looking for a home to live in.

Hering said there's just not enough of them to cause a real frenzy and they're often nervous about the high prices.

The Edmonton Real Estate Board recently reported the average single-family home in Edmonton sold for $399,555 in September, down 1% from the previous month.


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