Jessica Stoner- RE/MAX iREALTY Innovations- Canmore, AB
This is a difficult post to write. 1st, because so many of our friends, family, colleagues and clients have suffered in some way over the past few days. Be it by the stress of evacuation, concern about the safety of their homes, family and friends and the limitation on travel separating loved ones.
The 2nd reason this is difficult to write, is because there is still a lot of unknowns. I want to provide as much information as possible, to buyers, sellers and home owners in the Canmore area, and there simply isn’t a lot of information yet.
I’ll share what I know with you.
The majority of homes in the Cougar Creek and Eagle Terrace areas of Canmore remain unaffected. Having said that, most (not all) homes backing directly onto Cougar Creek have suffered extensive damage to the property. Some have lost much of their lot due to the erosion of the widened creek during this flash flood, others have lost much more, including their decks and parts of their foundations. It is unknown at this time what the fate is of these homes and lots.
In addition, there has been other pockets of areas affected by water run off, and widespread flooding in some areas of the valley floor due both to water run off from Cougar Creek or rising water table from below.
The Bow River that runs through the Center of Canmore has remained contained and has not spilled its banks. It remains high now, as the Lake Minnewanka dam releases excess water. This excess release of water from the dam is keeping the river running high and fast.
Flood insurance for homes is not available in Alberta (unless it is due to sewer back up.) Here is the explanation from the Insurance Bureau of Canada:
Why isn’t overland flooding covered?
The purpose of insurance is to spread risk among many policyholders. But overland flooding is a risk for only the small percentage of the population who live in flood plains or flood-prone areas. Since most homeowners aren’t exposed to this risk, they cannot be expected to share in the cost. This means the price of flood coverage would be very high for the small number of people who might need it.
Comprehensive vehicle insurance will cover damage to vehicles due to this event.
In these cases of flooding in Canmore, home owners can file for disaster relief from the Province. This process is not in place yet.
Will this happen again?
We don’t know. There will be significant work completed to reduce risk of such an event again. Having said that, it is unwise to make blanket statements about mother nature.
It was an unusual set of circumstances that created this weather pattern in this area. It was somewhat of a “perfect storm” scenario, that involved several unusual weather events to converge to bring this amount of water to the area and keep it here for an extended period of time.
Is the rest of Cougar Creek and nearby areas at risk?
Nature is unpredictable so we don’t know, but it is anticipated that the currently unaffected homes are not at risk in the future.
Will property values go down?
Some have postulated that property values in the Cougar Creek area may go down, as people are concerned about a repeat event and shy away from buying in that area. We don’t know what will happen with the real estate market, but we can make an educated guess.
It is unlikely that values of the unaffected properties in Cougar Creek will be permanently affected due to this event. It is possible that property values could be temporarily affected. There may be a strong desire for a small number of home owners to move out of Cougar Creek, after the trauma of the last few days. It is also understandable for buyers to be wary of the area in the immediate aftermath of such an event. While there are still ubiquitous vivid images of the destruction on the news and social media, it is hard for this not to affect immediate buying decisions.
However, time heals all wounds and Cougar Creek remains a very popular neighbourhood in Canmore and for good reason. Many families seek the area specifically due to the close proximity to the elementary school, the abundance of daylight and the close knit communities in the area. The desirable traits are still prevalent in the area, and will likely eventually override concerns due to this event within a short period of time.
Market values may take a temporary dip in these neighbourhoods, but it is anticipated that they will return to balanced levels within a relatively short period of time.
Will property values go up?
Others anticipate that many of the homes along the creek cannot be saved, (we don’t know whether this is true or not at this point or not) and there will be an influx of these home owners becoming new buyers, driving prices up in Canmore. This scenario is unlikely as well. If there is a number of home owners looking for new homes due to this event, it will not be an immediate action. It will take time to asses the damage, to save homes that can be saved and to provide relief for those that require relief. Eventually some of these home owners may be looking for a new home in the Canmore area, however it will not be in a large influx of new buyers all at once. It is predicted that property values will not see a surge due to this event.
How will this affect my Canmore home values, not in an affected area?
If you own in Canmore, in an area that has not been affected, your home may be more saleable than homes that are in affected areas, for the immediate future. Homes in unaffected areas, may see a slight temporary increase in property values though is likely a temporary adjustment. With time, the market will in all likelihood, balance again.
How will this affect my Canmore home in an affected area?
If you are backing to Cougar Creek, we don’t know have enough information on the state of these homes to make a reasonable prediction at this point.
If you are in a home that is in a known flood plain, such as some areas of the valley floor, this years event may affect your property value or salability temporarily. Buyers have more concern purchasing in a known flood plain when the evidence of such an event is fresh in ones mind. However, the valley floor of Canmore is a highly desirable and sought after neighbourhood. In addition, most homes on the valley floor were built specifically to deal with these known water issues, so most do not suffer damage from events such as this. Home buyers in the area are informed of the flood plain and potential issues with the high water table on the valley floor, yet the area remained popular and desirable with buyers over the years. It is very likely that the immediate saleability of homes in these areas could see some decline temporarily. Given the much desired location, it will likely see balance in the real estate market in this area again within a short period of time.
That’s all I have for now. I will continue to post more information as it develops on the market activity after this event and how it is affecting all Canmore home owners.