Wildfire’s effect on Fort Mac housing market

by Justin da Rosa06 May 2016
One agent weighs in on the impact the massive fires in Fort McMurray will have on the town’s real estate market.

It may be a long time before it is known to what extent Fort Mac's ecoconomy will be impacted by the raging wildfire, but one Alberta-based investor and agent suggests it will lead to a housing shortage and, potentially, a mass exodus of citizens.

“I can’t even imagine the cost of this; insurance companies aren’t the greatest to deal with but hopefully they step up and peoples’ homes are taken care of,” Tim Mangot, a Realtor with CIR Realty, told REP. “People won’t want to come back ... there was a huge number of people already trying to sell their homes and prices were already going down.”

Its impact on housing in the area has already been staggering.

Officials reported earlier this week that 70% of homes in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood had been destroyed, as well as 50% in nearby Abasand. Meanwhile, in Waterways, officials have estimated 90% of homes have already been lost.

It remains to be seen what the long-term impact the fires will have on housing prices if, indeed, a large number of citizens decide not to rebuild.

“Will prices plummet? Yes and no,” Mangat said. “It will reduce the number of houses available, which might help the market overall.”

Mangat compared the current wildfire to the 2011 Slave Lake fire that cost $750 million in damages ($794 million in 2016 dollars).

One Bank of Montreal analyst estimates total insurance losses will total $9.4 billion.

“What happened in Slave Lake was on a much smaller scale,” he said. “I can’t imagine the cost of [the damages in Fort McMurray].”

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