Breaking down YK real estate: Where are prices headed?

I’m Shane Clark. As a realtor, I’ve been calling Yellowknife home all of my adult life. I’m also a licenced professional and love to have fun while I work. As the summer sales season heats up, I want to share a bit of my experience with you.

Whether you’re thinking about getting into the market or currently own a home, you’re probably wondering the same thing: Will prices in Yellowknife ever go down?

As you can imagine, the answer is complicated. And while nobody can predict the future, at the moment, selling prices are pretty stable. That means we aren’t seeing the increases of 8-12 per cent we saw last decade, but we are seeing annual percentage increases more in line with inflation. Even so, those increases on more expensive homes still mean large year-on-year dollar-value appreciation.

Our market is generally a bit sheltered from the rest of Canada. We usually reap the benefit of low interest rates caused by factors external to the North, such as changes in the auto sector or price of the loonie, as well as unemployment. Every year, I’m asked if property values will decrease. While nobody knows the future, the only times I remember prices decreasing in YZF are:

The 1995-98 BUST

With the unfortunate circumstances regarding gold prices, striking employees and a real change in social climate, prices reduced by about 15 per cent over three years. Let’s put that in perspective. A $250,000 house might have reduced $30,000-$35,000 and a $100,000 trailer by about $15,000. Then in 1998, the year I joined my father in Real Estate, a government assistance program boosted the market and prices increased on everything about $10,000 in the first month and another $10,000 in the second month. Then the diamond mines opened and…BOOM.

October 2008-April 2009 – The Global recession BUST

I think I counted six or  seven sales in town during this time. Peter Mansbridge talked to us about a really negative story every night on the CBC news and the whole country shut down. By my numbers, prices went down in YZF 1-2 per cent on properties that “needed” to be sold. Then, when Mr. Mansbridge told us around April 30 2009 that Canadian banks were the best in the world, the whole YK Real Estate universe went bonkers again. That May was a banner month. Back to BOOM!

Each winter, many people are hesitant about buying in Yellowknife. They wonder, will prices go up? Will prices go down? Then there’s that one sale between Valentine’s Day and Easter where everyone says “THAT sold for THAT!!! WTF!!” And then everything (desirable) gets scooped up.

The lesson? Get looking early. Selling or Buying. Whether it’s my sign, their sign…or the homeowners sign, I can help. Email me at or call me at 867-446-4663. Or visit my website, follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook.

Photo by Angela Gzowski



For more real estate stories, the city’s best rental board and property listings, visit Property North

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