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Moving to Yellowknife: What is the True Cost of a Yellowknife Home?

Under Moving to Yellowknife

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Written on November 18th, 2021

One of the challenges our Century 21 Prospect Realty buyers’ agents encounter is that when folks research our real estate market in advance of their house-hunting trips, they often develop an inaccurate understanding of Yellowknife home prices.  Comparing houses between any two places is tricky, given how different one home can be from the next, but in most cities there are tools to assist with making apples-to-apples comparisons.  The main tool these days is the Home Price Index, which is the analytical model the Canadian Real Estate Association uses to create its National Price Map.  The Home Price Index works just fine when comparing housing between larger markets, but when it comes to the North, it causes nothing but trouble.

The current National Price Map illustrates the problem perfectly.  This month’s map gives the impression that the average Yellowknife home costs $360,030.  Only Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick  and Newfoundland came in lower.

Well, as anyone who lives here can tell you, just because CREA says it’s so, that doesn’t make it so.

There are good reasons to trust the National Price Map in bigger markets.  Calgary and Edmonton, for example, have 10,000 Realtors between them (roughly equivalent to half the population of Yellowknife), all paying monthly fees to their local and regional boards, pooling their resources to enable, among other things, the specialized and time-consuming task of applying CREA’s Home Price Index methodology to their sales statistics.  The NWT, by contrast, has 20 or so Realtors.  So what CREA gets when they take a look at our sales figures is not the Home Price Index at all, it is a good old-fashioned “mean” average, which can be very misleading, especially when you have only 26 home sales on which to base your calculation, as we did in October.

Of the 26 homes that sold in Yellowknife in October, only two were “stick-built” single-family homes, and both were bungalows with no garages.  So no matter how fancy your statistical model is, there is no way to use our October 2021 sales data to come up with a credible picture of what a 4 bedroom home with a double garage costs in the NWT.

But fear not, we have a solution to this problem.  We have come up with our own “benchmark” housing types, and we have filtered 2021 sales data (to date) to develop as clear as possible a picture of what you are likely to have to pay for these types of homes.   Our method might lead statisticians to break out in a cold sweat, but we think it has its merits, and we’ll do our best to be transparent about our methodology (feedback would be very much appreciated).

We’ll be updating this post in two months time, once 2021 is fully in the books, but for now, here is what the picture looks like.

3-Bedroom “Stick Built” Home: $687,643

Criteria:

  • 1,800 to 2,400 square feet above grade (homes with first levels that are slightly below grade have been excluded.)
  • 3 bedrooms
  • Attached garage
  • Minimum 2 bathrooms
  • Stick-built (not manufactured or pre-fabricated)
  • Old Town and Latham Island are excluded (for a variety of reasons homes in these two neighbourhoods are not “typical” and would skew results.)

It may surprise you to find out that only seven houses sold in 2021 have met the above criteria. Their average price comes in at $687,643, and the average square footage was 2,090 sqft.  The average days on market  was 19 days, which is about as fast at homes can possibly sell given the time required for dealing with financing and inspection conditions.  Four of the seven homes (57%) sold above the asking price.  Due to MLS rules we can’t publish the full details online, but if you e-mail us at prospectrealty@century21.ca we will send them your way.

4+ Bedroom “Stick-Built” Home: $755,800

Criteria:

  • 2,400 to 3,000 square feet above grade
  • 4 bedrooms and more
  • Attached garage
  • Minimum 2 bathrooms
  • Stick-built
  • Old Town and Latham Island are excluded

Again, not many homes that meet these criteria have changed hands in 2021 so far.  There were a mere five homes on this list, with an average sale price of $755,800 and average square footage of 2,556 sqft.  Average days on market was 40 and three out of five (60%) sold above asking.

Manufactured Homes: $379,421

Criteria:

  • Detached mobiles and modulars of all sizes and ages
  • No garage
  • All neighbourhoods

This is where our list of available options jumps up significantly, and the “average” actually becomes a bit less informative.  Although manufactured homes may seem quite uniform, it is actually pretty hard to paint a picture of a “typical” home because they vary so much in size, price, and age.  Of the 78 sales on this list, they range in size from 768 sqft to 2,100 sqft, in age from 1970 to 2019 and in price from $150,000 to $549,900.  For our year-end update we’ll break the list down by age and size to try to create more useful benchmarks, but for now this at least demonstrates that a whole lot of options exist in Yellowknife for manufactured homes.  For the homes in this group, the average price came in at $379,421, average size was 1,303 sqft, average age was 1993, and average days on market was 32.  33 of the 78 homes (42%) sold above asking.

2-Bedroom Apartment-Style Condominium: $317,097

Criteria:

  • 2 bedrooms
  • All neighbourhoods
  • Northern Heights 2-story penthouse units excluded

There are 32 units on this list so far in 2021.  Average sale price was $314,097 and average square footage was 884 square feet.  So this means that the average price per sqft (an important metric for comparing condos across the country) was $355 per sqft.  Average days on market was 41 and 8 of the 32 units (25%) sold above asking.

While no method allows for a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, we hope that the information provided here will give folks a more accurate understanding of Yellowknife home prices than what is currently available online.  If you would like a more nuanced, detailed understanding of home prices, and a strategy for finding the right home, we have a team of exceptional buyer’s agents who are standing by to teach you everything you could ever possibly want to know about buying a home in Yellowknife.  E-mail us at prospectrealty@century21.ca and we’ll get started today.