Meeting the Growing Demand for Rental Housing in Western Canada

Avenue Living Communities is filling a critical need across Western Canada by providing housing for a growing spectrum of people looking to rent.

Mark Nixdorf, Senior Vice-President of Residential Operations for Avenue Living, says the company’s goal is to supply housing for the workforce community.

“That community ranges from somebody in an entry-level job to middle management. It could be someone who has moved to Canada from another country and is just starting out here, it could be seniors on fixed income, it could be people beginning their careers after finishing school,” says Nixdorf.

“We strive to offer great value.”

Avenue Living, which began in 2006 with the purchase of 24 multi-residential units in Brooks, Alberta, has grown to a company with more than $1.3 Billion of assets under management, including more than 8,500 multi-residential units and 35,000 acres of agricultural land.

Avenue Living provides housing to this growing workforce population, which is increasingly considering the rental market, due to the high cost of home ownership. As explained in the company’s white paper, “The Case For Workforce Housing,” Workforce Housing caters to a city’s “essential workers” who are overqualified for affordable housing yet may not be able to afford average market-rate homes, whether for rent or purchase. Additionally, the mortgage stress test, introduced in January 2018, has made it tougher for some people to buy a home.

“Some people rent with us for two or three years until they get that mortgage downpayment, while others will be with us for a longer period of time,” says Nixdorf.

The company’s rental appeal comes from its value.

“In most, if not all markets, we are at the lower-to-mid tier of those rental rates,” says Nixdorf, adding that the company is very competitive in every market. “Whether you are in Moose Jaw or in Calgary, that’s our positioning in terms of rent – tremendous value for the product we provide, especially because we’ve strategically invested in renovating our buildings.”

Nixdorf says Avenue Living has strong occupancy levels across its portfolio, as it continues to see growing demand for rental product. This is also a main driver behind the company’s constant search for more properties.

“Our product fits the demand,” he adds. “We see a bright future. We’re well positioned in locations across the Prairies. We continue to grow in some of the more urban cities like Edmonton and Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina. There’s a lot of opportunity in those markets.

“Edmonton has always been a big market for us. In fact, it is our biggest market in terms of units and buildings. And it continues to provide us with opportunities to acquire more. Meanwhile, Calgary’s a fairly new market for us. We entered the city late last summer and we’re seeing buying opportunities, so we’ll maintain Calgary as a focus as we move forward.”

Avenue Living will continue to provide homes for the workforce housing population well into the future. The company expects to grow to more than 10,000 residential units across Western Canada by the end of 2019.