“For sale” signs can be easy to find in Regina, but, if a recent survey is right, people may not want to buy the homes. Australian-based financial planning website Finder.com commissioned a survey that found Regina the least attractive Canadian city.
The survey was conducted by the firm One Poll and received responses from 1,200 Canadians – ranking 22 Canadian cities. Toronto, Halifax and St. Catharines topped the list.
Economic Development Regina CEO John Lee said he’s concerned that perception of Regina exists, and said it could be because people don’t know that much about the Prairie province outside of stereotypes.
“We’re a pretty humble community. What we do a poor job of is actually telling our stories and all the great quality of life we have here, the great entrepreneurial ecosystems we have here,” Lee said.
“Studies like this remind us that we must do a much better job of telling our stories.”
Lee said Regina has a diverse economy, with manufacturing, energy, the public service and a burgeoning information technology sector.
He noted the Finder survey leaves out Regina’s cheaper costs of living compared to other metropolitan centres.
“Your housing costs are relatively cheaper and you have more family, disposable income to spend on quality of life and other activities,” Lee said.
Saskatoon also placed near the bottom of the Finder list, ranking 19th out of 22.
The opinion-based survey isn’t alone in giving Regina and Saskatoon low marks. Canadian financial planning website MoneySense ranked Saskatoon lowest on its list of top real estate markets in the country. Regina placed 27th out of 35.
MoneySense predicts a negative four per cent return on investment in both Regina and Saskatoon real estate over the next five years.
“I don’t think what we saw from those survey results necessarily lines up or aligns with the reality here in the community,” Association of Regina Realtors CEO Gord Archibald said.
Housing prices in both cities have been on the downswing. Archibald said Regina’s benchmark price has dropped 10 to 11 per cent from five years ago. He linked this to a slowing economy since the price of oil saw significant declines, and challenges brought on by the federal mortgage stress test.
Archibald said it is having the unintended consequence of keeping many first-time homebuyers out of the market.
He doesn’t expect to see a major spike in the market in the near future, but is optimistic about upward trajectory thanks to recent economic signals like job numbers.
“We’ve already incurred some of that, and it kind of bottomed out in that regard over the last number of months the prices have been pretty well holding steady around it. We aren’t anticipating we’re going to see further drops,” he said.