Courtesy the Town of Okotoks
Feb. 13, 2019 | Andrea Cox
Okotoks: small-town charm meets sustainable growthDespite market setbacks and price drops in nearby Calgary, the Okotoks housing market managed to emerge relatively unscathed from 2018.
Okotoks REALTOR® Alison Marshall says there is still strong demand for the amenities and small-town charm inherent to the Okotoks lifestyle.
"It's such a family-friendly town," she said. "The school systems are great. There are so many sports programs and every neighbourhood has parks and pathways. Okotoks has all the amenities of the city and is a super easy commute into Calgary."
According to CREB®'s 2019 Calgary Economic and Housing Outlook, total home sales (excluding new builds) in Okotoks were down from 547 homes in 2017 to 463 in 2018, a decrease of 15.36 per cent. Marshall notes that the detached market followed the same trend, down from 422 homes sold in 2017 to 368 in 2018, "which is basically only one fewer per week."
Although the drop in sales did cause inventories to inch upwards, the market imbalance didn't affect overall benchmark prices. In fact, year- over-year, the average benchmark resale price grew by 1.22 per cent from $421,500 in 2017 to $426,625 in 2018.
"I'm hopeful that the desire to live in one of the best communities in Alberta will drive Okotoks's housing market and keep it steady with 2019 sales." - Alison Marshall, Okotoks REALTOR®
That said, with the spectre of increased inventories still hanging over the market, there remains the potential for downward price pressure throughout 2019.
"But I'm hopeful that the desire to live in one of the best communities in Alberta will drive Okotoks's housing market and keep it steady with 2019 sales," said Marshall.
Meanwhile, the Okotoks new-home market has recently experienced an exciting shift.
Over the past few years, Okotoks hit the brakes on expansion, keeping the population hovering just below 30,000. The most recent census numbers put the town's population at 29,002, up just 21 residents from 2016, where the federal census recorded the population at 28,881.
However, the Government of Alberta recently approved the annexation of approximately 1,950 hectares (4,900 acres) of land to the north, west, south and southeast of the town's current boundaries. This represents a 60-year land supply, one that will be developed sustainably and to promote healthy transportation and living through a plan that is in harmony with the environment.
Anthem United is one developer that recognizes the potential of the Okotoks market.
Filling the demand for a more diverse mix of home types (the offering in Okotoks are skewed towards single-family dwellings), the developer behind the sustainability-focused community of Drake Landing broke ground on two new communities in 2018.
Located in the town's northwest quadrant adjacent to D'Arcy Ranch Golf Course and joined by the future Gateway Village – an amenity-rich hub in the heart of the overall development – the master-planned communities of D'Arcy (113 hectares) and Wedderburn (65 hectares) offer product types that are not common in the broader Okotoks market.
Currently, D'Arcy has a selection of paired and laned homes, and villa designs and street towns with no condo fees will be coming online this spring.
All homes incorporate significant environmental features. The builder group includes Morrison Homes, Sterling Homes, Trico Homes, Prominent Homes and Partners Development Group.
In both D'Arcy and Wedderburn, showhomes will be unveiled in the coming months, including three front-drive models, along with the villas and street towns.
Amenities in these two communities are designed to complement the greater suite of offerings in Okotoks. Gateway Village will feature a high street with an urbanized, mixed-use retail environment comprised of a grocery store, coffee shops, restaurants and local retail. It is expected to open in 2020.
A pond, fitness park, play park, skating rink, walking paths and two school sites will also add to the mix.
Upon completion, the communities of D'Arcy and Wedderburn will accommodate close to 7,000 residents.