House flipping in Calgary’s red-hot real estate market has surged to the highest level of any major metropolitan area in the country, according to new data from the Bank of Canada.

The latest statistics show 6.5 per cent of homes sold in the Calgary metropolitan area were resold within 12 months.

That’s the highest level in any major city at any point since at least 2014, which is as far back as the bank’s public-facing data goes.

The figures don’t surprise Jayson Shmyrko, a Calgary-based real estate agent who specializes in helping clients buy houses and resell them for a profit.

Asked what the market for flipping is like these days, he described it in one word: “Insane.”

“It’s crazy right now,” Shmyrko said.

He started flipping houses himself about 20 years ago, often renovating the properties before reselling them. These days, however, he says that’s not even necessary given how quickly demand — and prices — have risen.

“We’ve got some clients that have bought properties and they just rented them out for a couple of years with the intention of doing something [to renovate them],” he said. “And now they’re realizing that maybe they don’t really have to do anything. Maybe they can just sell it and and make a reasonable profit.”

The Calgary Real Estate Board’s latest monthly report shows double-digit price increases across various sectors of the city’s housing market in the past year.

Looking through real-estate listings and land title records dating back several years, it’s not hard to find examples of major price increases across numerous Calgary communities.

For instance, a bungalow in the southeast community of Acadia that sold for $432,500 in January 2022 just sold again earlier this month for $640,000. That’s a 48 per cent increase in just over two years.

In the northwest community of Montgomery, a bungalow sold for $325,000 in January 2020. A similar bungalow next door sold for $605,000 in January 2024, representing an 86 per cent increase in four years.

Out-of-town buyers
Nadine Faule is a real estate agent in Calgary whose clients include investors from other provinces looking to buy in the city.

She says demand for properties in Calgary has been through the roof lately, and the supply hasn’t been there to match.

The result is long lineups of buyers willing to pay “top dollar” for homes, she said, which has made flipping in the city quite easy.

“If you have 30 buyers for every property that comes on the market and people are paying a stupid amount … then if you just hang on for a few months, without even doing any work, you can resell them and make money,” Faule said.

While some of her clients are starting to hesitate at the asking prices at the higher end of the market, she said the prices at the lower end, especially for condos, are still extremely attractive — especially to prospective buyers who are used to the prices in Vancouver and Toronto.

“Like, anything under under $400,000 in Calgary right now is getting a stupid amount of competitive offers,” she said.

“I’ll sell a one-bedroom condo for $30,000 above asking price in like one day.”

Other buyers feel the squeeze
For local non-investor buyers, however, the recent trends have made navigating Calgary’s real-estate market challenging.

Max Maxwell is 38. He and his partner got married last summer and started looking for a condo together, but he said the hunt quickly became “disheartening” as property after property was snapped up.

“Just trying to even look at places was impossible,” he said. “We literally had 11 different showings of things that just hit the market cancel out on us because it had sold out from under us.”

They finally managed to make a purchase by taking advantage of a brief lull in activity during the Christmas holidays.

“We happened to view something three days before Christmas,” he said. “So instead of six offers on the first day, we only had one other offer to compete against.”

Duncan Stirk had been planning to buy a home in Calgary later this year, but has been watching the market with trepidation.

Stirk says he’s not a typical first-time buyer: he’s in his 50s and has rented his whole life, largely due to a job that has taken him to different cities in several countries over the years, and plans to buy a home in cash, with no mortgage.

He last lived in Victoria, B.C., but found real estate prices there too expensive and decided to come back to Calgary as a result.

But he’s now “quite concerned” about the trajectory of prices here.

“That may totally deter me [from buying],” he said. “If it really is that tough, well, then I’m just going to wait. I’m not going to be in a place of desperation to buy, if the market’s not right.”

Maxwell counts himself lucky for being able to buy a home in Calgary these days. He and his partner also saved up and purchased in cash, but he says lots of other people his age and younger are struggling to get a foot in the door of the current market.

“I mean, there’s an entire generation just utterly missing what feels like a milestone for a lot of us, you know?”

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