High River booms as buyers seek its blend of lifestyle, affordability


“When comparing price and quality of life, High River comes out on top,” says realtor Jim Ross.

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High River is seeing high demand for homes as buyers from the big city are drawn to its value market, the latest market statistics show.

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“The biggest single source of buyers for High River is people moving around within town, but the second largest source — without a doubt — are people moving from Calgary,” says veteran realtor Jim Ross with Re/Max Southern Realty in High River.

Calgary Real Estate Board market numbers for May for the town south of Calgary reveal sales grew, year over year, by more than 31 per cent. That is the highest percentage increase among all markets in the region.

By comparison, Calgary’s resales grew by about three per cent, while the city’s largest outlying market, Airdrie, saw its year-over-year sales fall in May by almost nine per cent.

“We are seeing more pick-up in the High River market because it is more affordable … especially for detached homes,” says Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist with CREB.

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Among all communities, High River’s benchmark price — or typical price — of a single-family detached home was the second most affordable at $477,600, despite rising 19.5 per cent from May 2021. Only Strathmore was less pricey at $452,000 in May, increasing by nearly 15 per cent. In contrast, Calgary’s was nearly $649,000, up almost 17 per cent.

“People move to High River from Calgary because they get better value for their money, but also because of quality of life,” Ross says, noting High River’s quaint downtown matched with comprehensive services that include a regional hospital. “It’s also very convenient to travel to Calgary.”

About 70 kilometres away from the big city, High River’s real estate appears to be peaking. Still, recent year-over-year data can be misleading.

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“I am always cautious with small market markets when looking at monthly sales,” Lurie says, as data can vary greatly when comparing one month to another.

For example, July 2014 saw more than 1,000 per cent growth from July 2013. Yet a closer look reveals High River was hit by floods in summer 2013. As a result only two sales happened that month.

By July next year, however, the market saw 23 sales — largely in line with more long-term monthly numbers.

Lurie says year-to-date data can be more telling, smoothing out monthly volatility in small markets while revealing broader trends. Indeed, sales year-to-date show a growth trend for High River, up almost 17 per cent.

While the market is hot, it’s slightly off the year-to-date record set in 2006 when 198 transactions occurred, Lurie says, noting High River has seen 190 sales.

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“But what’s different this year is that it is a record high for the detached homes,” she says.

Demand for single-family homes is certainly unprecedented, Ross adds, driven by buyers seeing value for their dollars.

“You can get a very nice single-family home here for less than $450,000,” he says.

What’s more, High River homes have the added benefit of second-to-none flood protection after significant infrastructure investments over the past several years.

As Ross further notes the community may be a little more farther afield than other communities surrounding Calgary, but it’s worth the drive.

“When comparing price and quality of life, High River comes out on top,” he says.

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