This three-bedroom, two-bathroom starter home in Saskatoon features a garage and a fully fenced in backyard, and is located near both an elementary school and a high school.
Buying your first home is one of life’s biggest milestones. Looking for something with the right amount of space for you and/or your family is not easy – you have to think about the number of bedrooms you need, which features are most important to you, and finding it all in the right neighbourhood may be the most important decision of all. Fortunately, if you’re looking for a starter home in Saskatoon, mortgage rates are low in Saskatchewan and you can usually find what you’re looking for without having to move outside of the city.
“No matter what neighbourhood you live in, you’re going to be within a 20 minute drive of the city,” said long-time Saskatoon realtor Norm Fisher. “Saskatoon is pretty flat and wide open, so it’s fairly easy to get around.”
This is good news for first-time homebuyers who, in Saskatoon, include a good mix of both young professionals and young couples, often in their mid-20s. In fact, Saskatoon has the youngest population in Canada. The province’s Graduate Retention Program offers a tax credit of up to $20,000 to new graduates who both study and then stay in the province to live and work, and is undoubtedly one of the reasons Saskatoon was named both the fastest growing and youngest city in Canada earlier this year.
With the average entry-level apartment or condo listed between $150-200,000, young professionals can get themselves into 750-900 square feet for a reasonable price and in some of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods.
“Young families, on the other hand, are more likely to start in a detached bungalow,” explained Fisher. Starting in the $200,000 range, families can also find their perfect first home in most parts of the city. Unfortunately, the reality is a little bit different in Saskatchewan’s capital city Regina.
“We’re probably seeing the same type of growth as Saskatoon and prices are only a little bit higher,” said Regina realtor Craig Adam. “But, unfortunately, we have a very limited inventory.”
In what Adam describes as a balanced market, leaning towards a seller’s market, the lack of inventory available to first-time buyers in Regina means the “good homes” that do come up for sale don’t last very long.
“A good listing might spend 1 to 2 days on the market – max a week – and then they are gone.”
But what do these so-called “good homes” look like? Young professionals can get into condos in the $220-230,000 range, with entry-level apartment-style condos going for as little as $180,000.
“If you’re in the market for a smaller bungalow, you can usually find a 1-storey home in the $240-250,000 range.”
To give you a better idea of what you might be able to afford in either of Saskatchewan’s major cities, we’ve created a chart using actual homes for sale on MLS:
It’s easy to see that buyers will have to spend more per square foot, to purchase a home in Regina versus Saskatoon. As the second-fastest growing city in the country, the higher prices can also be blamed for the influx of people – both from other provinces and other countries – who are moving to the city, putting a further limit on the lack of available inventory.
In a city where new listings sell quickly, Adam encourages potential buyers to pay attention.
“First-time buyers really have to be educated and aware of what is going on in the market. You don’t want to see a listing online and call in a couple days later, only to find out it’s already sold.”