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Vacancy rates down, rental rates up

If you live in rental accommodations in Red Deer, you’re probably paying about $40 more a month now than you were a year ago. And you have fewer alternatives to choose from.

The average apartment rental in the city was $804 in October, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s fall rental market survey. That was up more than five per cent from $764 for the same month in 2011.

In the case of bachelor units, the average October rent in Red Deer climbed to $568 from $548. One-bedroom suites were $736, up from $696; two-bedroom apartments increased to $867 from $823; and larger accommodations were renting for an average of $961, up from $916.

The higher rents reflected the fact that vacancy rates were down from last fall — to 1.2 per cent from 3.2 per cent, overall. Although the availability of bachelor suites improved slightly, all other apartment types were scarcer.

In the case of one-bedroom apartments, the rate decreased to 0.9 per cent from 2.5 per cent; two-bedroom apartment vacancies fell to 1.5 per cent from 3.9 per cent; and the vacancy rate for units with three or more bedrooms was down to 1.5 per cent from 3.6 per cent.

“Increased employment levels and gains in net migration were the largest contributors to the reduction in vacancies,” said Richard Cho, a senior market analyst with CMHC.

The CMHC survey looked at 17 Alberta communities with more than 10,000 people, including Sylvan Lake and Lacombe.

The average October rent in Sylvan Lake dropped 10 per cent, to $720 from $799. In the case of two-bedroom apartments, the figure slipped to $747 from $827.

Meanwhile, the overall average vacancy rate in Sylvan Lake in October was 1.1 per cent, down from five per cent a year earlier. In the case of two-bedroom apartments, the October rate was 1.4 per cent, down from 5.1 per cent.

However, CMHC was unable to provide comprehensive data for Sylvan Lake because the information it collected was in some cases not statistically reliable or had to be suppressed to protect the confidentiality of sources.

In the case of Lacombe, the average rent for apartments of all sizes in October was $781, up seven per cent from $732. The average rent for two-bedroom suites was $784, an increase from $764.

The vacancy rate in Lacombe was 2.5 per cent, down from 5.7 per cent last October. The rate for two-bedroom suites was 3.4 per cent, a decrease from 7.3 per cent.

The Wood Buffalo census area had the highest overall rent in the province in October, with two-bedroom apartments averaging $2,002. Cold Lake was next at $1,278, followed by Calgary at $1,150. The cheapest average rent for a two-bedroom apartment belonged to Medicine Hat, at $702. Sylvan Lake had the second lowest figure.

Two-bedroom vacancy rates ranged from a high of 9.7 per cent in Lethbridge to 0.6 per cent in Cold Lake.

The overall apartment vacancy rate in Canada — based on 35 major metropolitan areas — rose to 2.6 per cent in October from 2.2 per cent in October 2011, said CMHC. But demand for rental condominium apartments remained strong, it added, with the vacancy rate holding steady in most of Canada’s largest urban centres.

CMHC said the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures increased 2.2 per cent in the same period. The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures in Canada’s major centres were in Vancouver ($1,261), Toronto ($1,183) and Calgary. The lowest were in Saguenay ($549), Trois-Rivieres ($550) and Sherbrooke, Que., ($578).

With files from The Canadian Press.

 
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