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Renting vs owning: A tale of 2 different Lethbridge housing markets

A new report shows that it’s a renter’s market in Lethbridge, Alta., but not everyone agrees, including staff with the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union.

Rachele Preston, the vice-president of the organization says even through the cost of rent is relatively low, it’s still too high for students.

“Students really struggle with it because they don’t work full-time a lot of the time during the school year. They rely on grants and loans and things of that sort,” says Preston.

An April report from Rentals.ca says the price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city was $1,282, which is up 5.9 per cent from last year.

And two bedrooms rented for $1,486 per month, an increase of 7.9 per cent in 2023.

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According to Preston, many students come from outside of the city to attend the U of L and she says there needs to be more assistance to help them find homes.

“Provincially, we are really looking at the affordability front, as well as federally, with the recent grant announced by the federal government for post-secondary specific housing is really exciting. But the work’s always growing and always trying to do more,” added Preston.

Meanwhile, according to the Alberta Real Estate Association, housing prices have soared in Alberta including in Lethbridge, which saw a 7.1-per cent hike between February of 2023 to February of this year.

The average price of a home was nearly $352,000 last year and that number jumped to just under $377,000 this year, an increase of 4.1-per cent.

“Last year in 2023 we saw some of the lowest housing starts in Lethbridge’s history,” says Trevor Lewington, the CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge.

Lewington added that factors like a major supply and demand imbalance is one of the main factors contributing to the high numbers.

“But at the end of the day when we aren’t building new houses, the population is growing. The supply is tighter and tighter and that pushes the prices up. So, no, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Seven per cent is not a round number that we were forecasting, but again, it comes down to available supply.”

Overall, Lethbridge came in at number five on the list behind Red Deer, Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Calgary.

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