Alberta is one of Canada’s three Prairie provinces and boasts a population of 4.3 million, as of 2019.
Its natural beauty encompasses a diverse range of geography, including the prairies to the west, the desert badlands to the south, the Rocky Mountains to the west and vast boreal forests in the north.
Thanks in part to its historically strong energy sector, particularly oil and gas, Alberta is among the most active mortgage markets in Canada, alongside British Columbia and Ontario. This has allowed Albertans to benefit from ample competition in the mortgage market, and as a result more competitive rates compared to your average province.
Alberta is one of the provinces where mortgage shoppers can find the most competitive mortgage rates. This is due in part to the higher incomes that traditionally came from the oil and gas sectors. They allow for bigger mortgages, which are more highly coveted.
Rates are also sharp thanks to the competitive mortgage broker market in the province, as well as competition from brokers outside of Alberta.
Some say the higher income per capita in the province, as well as lower educational levels (percentage with post-secondary educations), make Albertans slightly less rate sensitive than other provinces. But we think this is a generalization that does not reflect our readership. We encourage all to aggressively research the lowest mortgage rates possible.
Alberta’s housing market has lagged other markets in Canada after falling from its 2017 peak. It’s on track to post further long-term declines due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and weak oil prices.
As of March 2020, home sales were tracking at roughly 24% below the five-year average—where sales were already slow due to a weak GDP growth, according to the Alberta Real Estate Association. “The Calgary market was already struggling with oversupply and price declines prior to the recent changes caused by the pandemic and oil price crash,” the association noted.
Mortgage performance in Alberta has been challenged for a number of years due to the economy’s reliance on the struggling oil and gas industry. When oil prices plunged in 2015 and 2016, job losses mounted and posted the worst declines since the province’s recession of 1985.
The province is once again headed for a period of uncertainty due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and plunging oil prices as of early 2020.
If the 2015-2016 recession is a lesson, many homeowners found ways to continue paying their mortgages, leading to 90-day delinquencies topping out at just .50%. But with a 25% unemployment rate forecast for Alberta, the 2020 downturn could be very different.
This table shows the changes in the number of mortgages and the number of arrears in Alberta over the years.
|Date (Year End)||# of Mortgages||# in Arrears||% in Arrears|
The Big Six banks dominate mortgage lending in Alberta, along with ATB Financial and the big credit unions. The province’s lenders are concentrated in Calgary and Edmonton.
The best mortgage lender changes by the month, with the lowest rates and features being the key criteria. Rates.ca allows quick comparison of those features in its rate tables.
After Ontario and British Columbia, Alberta has the highest concentration of mortgage brokers. Most brokers are situated in the province’s metro centres of Calgary and Edmonton, but most rural areas are also well-serviced by the broker market.
Mortgage brokers play an important role in Alberta’s competitive landscape. They are a major reason why the province is routinely in the top three for most competitive mortgage rates in the country.
Alberta mortgage brokers are typically able to offer more competitive mortgage rates compared to the big banks on several mortgage types. Some of the key brokerage houses operating in the province include: Dominion Lending Centres, TMG the Mortgage Group and M3 Mortgage Group, which consists of Mortgage Alliance, Mortgage Intelligence, Verico and Invis.
Alberta is also home to True North Mortgage, one of the country’s largest independent mortgage brokers, and is served by high-volume, deep discount online brokers including intelliMortgage Inc. (a sister company of Rates.ca), Sigma Mortgage, Butler Mortgage and the like.
Like many provinces in Canada, Alberta has a strong presence of local credit unions. The province’s largest, Servus Credit Union, is ranked as the fourth biggest in Canada.
The top Alberta credit unions include:
While many borrowers across the country have never had experience dealing with a credit union, they shouldn’t be written off as a mortgage option. Compared to many of the big banks, they can sometimes offer competitive mortgage rates, particularly during limited-time rate promotions often unveiled during the spring home buying season. Credit unions also have more flexible lending rules and often superior service.
Just 10% of mortgage shoppers consulted a credit union rep in 2019, according to data from Mortgage Professionals Canada. Albeit, that’s double the percentage in 2018, when the figure was just 5%.
Make sure to explore all your options when searching for the best mortgage rates. Rates.ca compares virtually all credit unions in Alberta.
Here’s a rough estimate of mortgage amounts and monthly payments in the three Alberta cities, and a province-wide average, assuming 20% down, a 30-year amortization, 2.50% 5-year mortgage rate and average purchase prices as tracked by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), as of March 2020:
Here’s a quick look at the trend in Alberta mortgage rates, relative to the lowest national rates, as of year-end.
Lowest Nat'l 5yr
Lowest Nat'l 5yr
|*As of May 2020|
Alberta mortgage rates are forecast to follow the national average with a slight premium due to the deeper economic downturn in the province. Regardless, they’re projected to remain relatively low through 2022.