A roadmap to Fort McMurray's tanking housing market - Macleans.ca

A roadmap to Fort McMurray’s tanking housing market

There’s a glut of homes on the market in Fort McMurray, which is bad news as oil patch layoffs start to hit

This home in Fort McMurray's Timberlea subdivision could be your's for $870,000 (Source: Realtor.ca)

This home in Fort McMurray, Alta., could be yours for $870,000 (Source: Realtor.ca)

On Tuesday, Suncor announced plans to axe 1,000 jobs as it delays expansion plans at one of its oil-sands projects. While the cuts don’t involve any unionized jobs—yet—Ken Smith, president of Unifor Local 707A, which represents 4,000 Suncor employees, summed up the mood: “One thousand jobs, that’s pretty darn significant for any employer,” Smith said from his office in Fort McMurray, Alta. “This is not a good omen for Fort McMurray as a whole. We’re going to have rough times ahead. There’s going to be people in limbo. It puts everything up in the air.”

Or, as another Fort Mac resident, Debbie March, told the Globe and Mail: “It’s like the place has gone dead.”

Leach: Is it time to panic in the oil sands?
Kirby: Why the oil crash is bad for Canadian housing prices

Since the oil rout began, the question of when the aftershock would rumble through the Alberta housing market has been a hot topic. There are already signs of a slowdown in Calgary, with sales dropping 7.5 per cent in December from a year earlier. (Prices still jumped nearly 10 per cent.) As for Fort Mac, the epicentre of the oil crash, the local market is harder to assess. The most recent statistics date from November. Even so, this chart from the Fort McMurray Real Estate Board shows there was already a widening gulf between sales and listings back then.
Fort Mac real estate

But there’s another way of seeing what’s gone on in Fort Mac real estate since then, and that’s by putting the local market in some perspective. I made the following maps using the map-drawing tool at Realtor.ca, which lets you see only those listings within the selected area. I traced the fast-growing Fort Mac subdivision of Timberlea, along with several wards in Toronto.

The results are quite startling. There were nearly as many homes on the market in that one Fort McMurray subdivision as in some of the most densely populated parts of Toronto. The Trinity-Spadina neighbourhood (Ward 20) is littered with condo construction cranes and condominium sales centres, but its listing-to-resident ratio is half that of Timberlea in Fort Mac. Relative to other parts of Toronto, away from the condo towers, the ratio of listings-to-residents is seven times higher in Fort Mac.

  • Ft. Mac - Timberlea - # listings
  • Fort McMurray – Timberlea
    Population in 2012: 33,485
    # of MLS listings: 437

    1 listing per 76 residents

  • Toronto Ward 20 - listings
  • Toronto – Ward 20 – Trinity Spadina
    Population in 2011: 76,600
    # of MLS listings: 501

    1 listing per 153 residents

  • Toronto Ward 28 Centre-Rosedale
  • Toronto – Ward 28 – Toronto Centre-Rosedale
    Population in 2011: 66,585
    # of MLS listings: 248

    1 listing per 268 residents

  • TOronto Ward 25 - listings
  • Toronto – Ward 25 Don Valley West
    Population in 2011: 58,315
    # of MLS listings: 119

    1 listing per 507 residents


A roadmap to Fort McMurray’s tanking housing market

  1. Gosh, isn’t this the place Albertans have been insisting Ontarians should move to?

  2. Fortunately for McMurrayites the writer’s stats are deeply flawed. First he has tried to compared 3 older established neighbourhoods to the fastest growing subdivision in Fort McMurray. The 2012 population is significantly lower than the present population. Of course a newer subdivision with active construction is going to have a higher listing rate per capita. I’m not suggesting that the McMurray market has not been affected by the current oil price woes however the “facts” as presented in this article are very skewed.

  3. I am a realtor in Fort McMurray. I would not dream of commenting on the Toronto market and even if I did, I would have done a lot more research than what occurred here.

    The listings represented above include the sub divisions of Timberlea, Eagle Ridge, Parsons North and Stone Creek. This accompanied with the fact that you used a 2012 population of 1/4th of the area renders the entire article useless.

    Comment on our market if you wish, but if you do, do your research first.

  4. I can’t help wondering why Albertans had not heard of “not putting all your eggs in one basket”… how about “saving for a rainy day”?

    No? Heard but ignored? Then why are they surprised at what’s happening?

    Just sayin’

    • Gina we’ve got $15B in our Heritage Trust Fund and NO Provincial Debt we have saved for a rainy day not like OntarI-owe where were You Owe $23K as soon as you are born!!!

  5. Time to buy a house in Fort Mac. Falling prices may be bad for all the chicken littles who figured their house was their pension, but they are great for those trying to buy a house.

    • “Tanking” in Fort Mac just means that an average $700,000 home drops to $675,000. Nothing to really get excited about.

  6. Macleans should be embarrassed to have a business editor publish such rubbish. To compare listings per capita in a new subdivision in a highly transient, rapidly growing city with long-established neighbourhoods in a low-growth environment is a total apples and oranges comparison.

  7. Or, as another Fort Mac resident, Debbie March, told the Globe and Mail: “It’s like the place has gone dead.”……………………….hhhmmmm
    I am not sure who this person is, but I can tell you Fort McMurray is not dead!………I live here and have not been affected by what you call …..”A Roadmap to Fort McMurray’s tanking housing market.

    Have not seen any change in the grocery stores….or any store for that matter….the house down the street sold in less than a week…another in two weeks…..
    If you read CPerkins comments you will see your information that you headlined in MacLeans magazine to sell magazines is incorrect about Real Estate in Fort McMurray with stats and suburb areas….he was very correct calling you out on it

    My nephew came here from Ontario late last summer and had a job the first day he was here, so then ( in Febuary 2015 ) my two other nephews drove out here and had a job in 4 days

    My husband who works for the biggest oil producer only saw dead weight lay off…and they were sub contractors……….happens every year

    No over time was cancelled…..if he wants to work everyday they would want him too

    One of my clients was laid off but told by her supervisor she would be back in May

    Downtown is as busy as ever……line ups in grocery stores…..liquor stores….any new restaurant that opens which is a lot lately….% new ones opened in the last 4 months

    More homes being built and can’t be built fast enough for the influx of people moving here…STILL

    Oil is a natural resource!…you can’t just stop pumping for it just because the price goes down. it happens all the time…..those of you who do not live and work in this industry are getting bad information from drama queens…..maybe it is with some sub contractors, but it is not all of us…..