MEDICINE HAT, AB — A recently released survey on International Housing Affordability from the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies ranked Medicine Hat as the most affordable place to buy a house compared to other Alberta cities.
Local real estate board president Vincent McKenzie said it’s good news for Medicine Hat.
“It goes to show the Medicine Hat advantage does actually exist for all the talk we hear about it,” he said. “Now with the studies it’s really nice to hear.”
The median home price in Medicine Hat during the third quarter of 2016 was $247,900, according to the survey. In that price range, McKenzie said home buyers are looking at one to two bedroom starter homes, likely built between 1970 and 1990.
“Between that $200,000 and $250,000, it’s going to be that first time home buyer, possibly even a downgrade to a smaller home,” said McKenzie.
The report aimed to highlight middle income housing affordability.
Jaime Rogers with the Community Housing Society said it’s an accurate report that highlights how affordable the city can be for those middle income families. However, Rogers added that doesn’t mean housing is affordable for everyone.
There are more than 1,000 local people in social housing or receiving a rental supplement and hundreds more are in need.
“Our current wait list for social housing is at 362 households, and that actually represents about 630 individuals in those households,” said Rogers.
There’s currently a 344 day wait list for community housing.
Rogers said there’s still a long way to go to make housing affordable for people of all incomes. Part of that will be creating a national housing strategy and increasing funding for housing and rental subsidies.
“If we had more funding from government to ensure we could make it more affordable for people currently living in market housing, it allows them more income to put towards other things, like recreation for their children, or enhancing their education,” she explained.
Rogers and McKenzie said there are some other advantages in Medicine Hat that aid in affordability including the lowest utility rates in the province, and some of the lowest property tax rates.
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