News / Calgary

Flooding fuels real estate bump around High River

High River residents whose homes were rendered uninhabitable by June's flooding have sought refuge in surrounding communities, boosting property sales in those areas, according to realtors.

Flooding forced Brandon Ralph and his family from their Hampton Hills home in High River. Ralph posted his urgent need for a home in Okotoks or south Calgary on Kijiji. They eventually settled on Calgary.

"It probably won't be for six or eight months before we're allowed back (to High River)," he said.

The Calgary Real Estate Board said in mid-July the impact of southern Alberta flooding on sales in surrounding towns would be noticed for the next quarter, maybe two, and  predicted "long term" effects on High River real estate without flood mitigation.

All of the little places, whether it's Okotoks, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Stavely, Nanton - they're all getting more attention because High River just isn't in the mix anymore. - Okotoks real estate agent, Ryck Flemmer

Many are looking toward Okotoks, a bedroom community similar to High River, where local real estate agent Ryck Flemmer, who works for Century21 Foothills, notes July sales in that town jumped 42 per cent. He said it started with High River seniors looking for replacement condos.

"The next little wave we had was people who were in a position where they just didn't want to live in High River any more and this (flood) just expedited it," Flemmer said.

"All of the little places, whether it's Okotoks, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Stavely, Nanton - they're all getting more attention because High River just isn't in the mix anymore."

Flemmer expects the trend to continue in all the small communities in the area, but High River real estate agent Ken Braat hopes residents ride things out.

"On June 19th, we were a place people wanted to go," said Braat, with annual flood concerns all but behind High River.

"Now we're looking at this reality and we've got some people who are just terrified – knee-jerk reactions that they want to leave."

Braat said he's seen some residents put their houses on the market for rock-bottom prices, but he's hoping people see a "moral responsibility" to keep prices reasonable for the market.

Ralph, whose High River home is being remediated by Tervita, said he'd have taken a buyout on his home had his area qualified. But for now, his family's future in High River depends on one thing.

"If they don't do anything about flood mitigation, we won't be staying," he said.

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