Luxury real estate market strong in foothills

Foothills: 61 listings over $1.5 million in MD

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 02:53 pm

Kim Vink, realtor with Royal Lepage, shows off a home northwest of Okotoks she has listed for $2.75 million. The market for multi-million dollar properties in the foothills is strong with 61 priced at over $1.5 million.
Kim Vink, realtor with Royal Lepage, shows off a home northwest of Okotoks she has listed for $2.75 million. The market for multi-million dollar properties in the foothills is strong with 61 priced at over $1.5 million.

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Luxurious homes, spacious properties and beautiful landscapes are fueling a healthy market for multi-million dollar homes in the foothills area.

The area’s high-end home market came under the spotlight last week and a Millarville-area home on a 242-acre property was listed for sale at $37.88 million. It joins a long list of multi-million dollar properties in the MD of Foothills area.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, there are currently 61 active listings over $1.5 million in the MD.

Mary-Ann Mears, managing broker with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Calgary, said the high-end home market in the MD has been strong and is gaining momentum with the strength of Calgary’s economy.

“Strong business and consumer confidence, along with the fact that the city is forecast to lead Canada in real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth in 2014, have really injected optimism into the local market,” she said.

Mark Evernden, Senior Vice President of Sales with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, said prices for luxury homes in the foothills are typically over $1.4 million, and average between $2.2 million and $2.5 million.

He said prices are driven by the size of parcels of land available and the potential for future development.

Evernden listed the Kettle Lakes Ranch north of Millarville last week and said the $37.8 million price tag may be a record for the Calgary area.

He said luxury homebuyers are drawn to the area by the lifestyle and space, while still being close to Calgary.

“People are drawn to the area for the rural lifestyle, the spacious lots and the prestigious country homes - and the fact that the area is in close proximity to all the urban amenities of the city,” said Evernden. “The areas that are closest to the core, such as Springbank, are particularly popular.”

Kim Vink, Royal LePage realtor, said there is less competition for multi-million dollar properties in the MD compared to areas like Bearspaw and Springbank.

However, she said the MD is further away from downtown Calgary which may limit potential buyers.

Yet, Vink said high-end properties in the foothills are also more affordable than similar properties around other major centres.

“If you look at the other big areas, if you look at Toronto, Vancouver, we’re still extremely affordable and we have industry, we have jobs, the outlook for the future is amazing,” she said.

There isn’t a specific point where the luxury market begins.

Vink said it’s not that homes in the $1.2 million to $1.5 million range wouldn’t be considered luxurious. However, once the prices hit the multi-million dollar mark, she said it crosses the threshold to a different level.

“It’s not just the way it looks and how pretty it looks, it’s really just a different kind of build,” said Vink. “It’s quality everywhere.”

Vink currently has one property outside Okotoks listed for $2.75 million she would characterize as falling within the luxury end of the market. She said most buyers at this level are professionals or people in the oil and gas industry.

Bill Fowler, realtor with ReMax Southern Realty, said buyers in the luxury market are often looking to move up to a new level of homeownership.

“It’s people that have had a country lifestyle in mind for a number of years and maybe the kids are grown, maybe the kids are heading to university and now it doesn’t matter that they are quite as central to the city,” he said.

Fowler said international buyers are restricted by foreign ownership rules. However, there is still plenty of opportunities for people looking to buy multi-million dollar properties less than 20 acres in size, he said. He added most buyers in the multi-million dollar range are looking at the house, not large tracts of land.

“They want the home with the best for the most part,” he said. “Land owners are a different breed, they’re looking for the experience of the land, holding the land and maybe even developing the land.”

He said luxury, high value homes are characterized by the quality of the workmanship that went into them and their placement on the land.

“I think when you say high-end, luxury that envisions a whole different market place,” he said. “It’s not just strictly the size of the land and the house it’s on, it’s what does the house have for features.”

He sees the market for multi-million dollar properties in the foothills growing, particularly as new commercial and office complexes are built on Calgary’s south end.

He said the development of the South Calgary Hospital and corporate campus developments, such as Quarry Park, which will also be home to Imperial Oil’s new head office, will bring more attention to real estate in the MD.

“If I can drive 20 minutes from somewhere in the MD of Foothills to work, versus half-an hour from Chinook Centre to Quarry Park, I’m coming to the country,” he said.


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