Saskatchewan cities see increase in vacancy rates: But apartments hard to come by in oil patch area

CBC News June 20, 2013 - A spring snapshot market survey by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation shows slight increases in the apartment vacancy rates for Saskatchewan’s two biggest cities.

In Saskatoon, the vacancy rate increased from 3.1 per cent last year, to 3.3 in April 2013. Regina’s rental market also eased a little, with a vacancy rate of 1.9 per cent in April 2013, up from 0.9 last year.

Demand for rental units remains strong for both cities, which also means rent prices have risen due to people who’ve moved to Saskatchewan from other countries. CMHC notes that rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment jumped almost 5 per cent in Regina, and close to 4 per cent in Saskatoon.

"Typically when migrants come from abroad or from overseas they tend to rent first before they own, so that has put some pressure on vacancies in both centres,” said Mwale.

At the same time, CHMC suggests the vacancy rates increased slightly as homebuilders take advantage of tax incentives for rental construction, particularly in Regina.

Apartments almost impossible to find in the oil patch

While the big cities enjoy a slight increase in vacancy rates, Estevan continues to struggle with housing issues.

The CMHC spring survey lists that city’s apartment vacancy rate as zero per cent. A booming oil patch continues to attract new workers to the region, creating high demand for rental housing.

Other communities in the oil patch are also feeling the pressure. Weyburn and Lloydminster reported the second-lowest vacancy rates in the province at 1.1 per cent in April.

The CMHC’s snapshot survey each April does not include secondary rental units, things like condominiums, basement suites and duplexes.

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