The dust has yet to settle from the Bank of Canada’s latest interest rate hike, which pushed the cost of borrowing up to an unsurmountable level for many prospective homebuyers. Those who are still in the position to purchase real estate seem to be shifting their focus west.

This is according to a new market trend report from real estate bigwig Royal LePage, which reveals that Edmonton and Calgary have been the top-searched Canadian cities on for the past two years.

More specifically, Edmonton was the top-searched city in the first six months of 2023, with Calgary trailing closely behind. In 2022, Calgary was the most searched city on Royal LePage’s website, with Edmonton ranking second.

As well, the data shows that “unique searches” for homes in Edmonton have quadrupled from 0.5% to 2% between January 1 and June 30, 2019, and January 1 and June 30, 2023. In a similar fashion, searches for homes in Calgary up 1.9% of total searches between January 1 and June 30, 2023. That figure was more than double what it was over the same period in 2019, when Calgary accounted for 0.8% of total site searches.

Tom Shearer, an Edmonton-based broker and owner of Royal LePage Noralta Real Estate, says that these trends go hand in hand with roaring shelter costs, which are more pronounced in Ontario and BC.

According to Royal LePage’s latest quarterly Canadian Home Price Update, the aggregate price of a home in Edmonton came in at $434,400 in Q2-2023. In Calgary, the aggregate price was $643,200. Comparatively, in Toronto and Vancouver, the aggregate prices were $1,222,000 and $1,434,600, respectively, while the national average was $809,200.

As such, Canadians are being ‘tempted’ to migrate to communities where housing is more affordable, says Shearer. “More consumers, now empowered with the flexibility of the option to work remotely or who are willing to move for great employment opportunities, are considering relocating to Alberta.”

Shearer’s sentiments are well-supported by interprovincial migration trends. According to data from Statistics Canada, Alberta welcomed more than 21,000 net new residents (85,625 in-migrants versus 63,965 out-migrants) between 2021 and 2022. This was the first time since the 2014-2015 period in which the province observed positive net interprovincial migration. StatCan’s data indicates that “a large number of recent Alberta migration originates from Ontario.”

Monday's report also notes that both Edmonton and Calgary were among the top 10 most searched locations on in 2021 and among the top 20 in 2020. Royal LePage notes that “typically, densely populated cities in southern Ontario have held the top spots.”

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