Divergent stories about homebuying statistics paint a picture of a two-tiered housing market in Calgary and the rest of Alberta. On one hand, young potential homebuyers struggle with insufficient wages, large down payments and high home prices and report feeling more stressed or anxious when considering home ownership. On the other hand, the luxury housing market has never been better, pulling up overall home sales in the province.

While for some the economy may still feel recessed or moving slowly, clearly for others, the last few years have been filled with real estate opportunities. First-time homebuyers expect to spend $406,000 on average for a home in Calgary, the highest in the country. The average sale price will be about $423,000, according to the Canada Mortgage and Home Corp. This price may be out of range for many lower or low-mid income families.

Sales of homes priced under $400,000, a typical benchmark assessment for first-time homebuyer activity, represented 45 percent of sales in 2012 compared to 52 percent of total sales in 2011, according to The Globe and Mail, perhaps indicating that the first-timer is not as robust as overall housing market activity might predict.

LUXURY HOME SALES BOOM

The majority of the Calgary housing market activity is happening at the other end of the housing spectrum. Home sales for more than $1 million increased by 50 percent in the three-month period of January to March 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, according to RE/MAX analysis. This is a nearly 500 percent increase in luxury homes sold compared to the first quarter of 2009.

This is notable considering that 2012 set a record for most luxury home sales in Calgary, with 544 sales recorded. This exceeded the pre-downturn number of 458 in 2007, perhaps indicating that the luxury market has completely rebounded from the housing crisis in 2008-2009.

FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS TRENDS IN ALBERTA

It is clear that Alberta is one of the most expensive markets in all of Canada, with homebuying trends focusing on urban properties, according to a Globe and Mail report. Buyers in Atlantic Canada only expected to spend $202,000 on their first home, compared to nearly double that in Alberta.

LEVERAGE YOUR HOMEBUYING POTENTIAL

It seems as though the housing markets in Alberta and Calgary are picking up, though opportunities may seem more difficult for first-time homebuyers. Still, if you’re interested in beginning your own home-buying process, the best thing to do would be to contact a real estate lawyer. Your attorney can help guide you through each step, help you go over forms and be in the room when negotiating prices, terms and conditions with sellers and lenders.