Seven busloads of real estate investors swooped through St. Albert Friday to check out the city that recently ranked seventh in the country as a place to invest.
The tour, and the ranking, were both courtesy of the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a business that helps people invest in real estate.
The tour had 375 people, including 60 per cent from outside of Alberta, said REIN president Don Campbell.
Many on the tour are investors in residential rental properties. The tour allows investors to see the places that appear in REIN’s reports and meet realtors and civic leaders, Campbell said.
“It makes it real for them instead of theory in a book,” he said.
St. Albert is on the tour because the economic fundamentals are showing it has great potential for growth, Campbell said.
His company does a tour in Alberta and Ontario every year. The Alberta tour alternates between the Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary areas, he said.
REIN recently ranked St. Albert seventh nationally as a real estate investment opportunity. Much of this ranking was based on the fact that the Anthony Henday Drive is poised to open next year. In his address to tour members, Campbell repeatedly stressed his theory that changes in transportation infrastructure precede economic growth.
Mayor Nolan Crouse spent 20 minutes summarizing St. Albert’s potential and challenges to the group, which gathered at the Arden Theatre before filing back onto their buses. Crouse wasn’t shy about admitting St. Albert’s reputation as a high-tax location.
He said afterward that he was trying to impress that St. Albert is trying to be a place for business. He conceded that it’s not necessarily desirable to have a lot of rental owners buying up property in the city.
“I don’t think you’d want to be known as a community with a lot of rental property,” he said.
He noted that there were also developers on the tour.
Absentee landlords cause difficulties [but]hopefully well get a diversity [of investment,] he said.
Investor Wayne Boyd, a 64-year-old from Leduc, feels St. Albert’s high property taxes may be a short-term deterrent from buying rental properties but thinks the longer term is very attractive because new traffic arteries will attract people and housing.
“Three to five years from now, values are going to go up. There’s going to be more need for residential rental properties,” he said.
Campbell thinks that most people in St. Albert are unaware of the economic upswing that will come in the next five years.
“The city is going to feel change, it may be comfortable and it may not be comfortable — depends on how the populace embraces it,” he said. “Whether it’s embraced or not, it’s going to occur.”