Edmonton is Alberta’s second-largest city and the northernmost city in the Americas with a population of nearly one million.
The city also serves as a base to Alberta’s northern oil sands projects and is perhaps best known for its sprawling West Edmonton Mall, which held the title of the world’s largest mall from 1981 to 2004.
While the city’s real estate and mortgage market don’t see the same kind of demand as Calgary, there has historically been steady growth thanks to oil and gas sectors and the higher-than-average salaries associated with those jobs.
However, due to its reliance on the resource industry, Edmonton has experienced numerous booms and busts. Like Calgary and other resource-dependent cities, Edmonton experienced a housing market slowdown in 2014-15 and again in early 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Granted, as one of Alberta’s large urban centres, Edmonton still fared better compared to smaller and more rural communities where demand is lower and mortgage lending is riskier.
Mortgage default rates in the province stood at 0.51% as of March 31, 2020, double the national average. Again, much of this is due to lost incomes from the struggling oil and gas industry. By comparison, the default rate was just 0.09% in Ontario and 0.15% in British Columbia, but 0.91% in Saskatchewan.
Here’s a quick look at Edmonton’s key mortgage and housing metrics.*
* Data as of July 2020. Assumes 1.96% (the lowest nationally available uninsured mortgage rate), down payments as stated, a 25-year amortization.
Nat'l 5yr Fixed
Alberta 5yr Fixed
Nat'l 5yr Variable
*As of August 2020
Mortgage rates in Edmonton are generally middle-of-the-road for many mid-to-large-sized Canadian cities. By contrast, rates are often materially lower in places like Vancouver and Toronto, where there is a greater influx of new immigrants, greater employment opportunities and, as a result, more mortgage competition.
Still, Edmonton boasts a large variety of lenders and brokers that serve the city and surrounding area, which keeps mortgage rates reasonably competitive.
Edmonton mortgage rates are heavily influenced by its largest credit unions, ATB and Servus Credit Union, as well as regional mortgage brokers.
The best rates in Edmonton aren’t typically as low as in the more competitive markets of Greater Vancouver and Toronto, for example, but they remain competitive and lower than most smaller and more rural housing markets.
Like the rest of Canada, mortgage rates throughout Alberta set fresh record lows throughout much of 2020. Mortgage rates declined considerably in Edmonton as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a spike in unemployment, there were still plenty of buyers looking to purchase real estate in the city. Home sales as of July 2020 were up 10% compared to the year prior.
Experts are forecasting low rates to persist well into 2022 and perhaps even 2023.
Edmonton is well-served by the country’s Big Six banks, as well as many other large lenders, including several that operate exclusively in the Prairies. Some of the largest lenders available to Edmonton homebuyers include:
When searching rates offered by the Big Six bank, it’s important to keep in mind that they don’t advertise the rates that are typically available to well-qualified clients and that are only obtainable after some negotiation.
As a result, Big Six bank mortgage rates advertised on Rates.ca are an estimate of the discretionary rates shoppers may be able to secure, again, if they are well-qualified and meet the bank’s lending conditions.
Gone are the days when homebuyers were mostly restricted to researching and driving to the offices of their local mortgage brokers and brokerages.
Thanks to online rate comparison websites like this one, homebuyers in practically any Canadian markets can search mortgage brokers and lenders, and in many cases perform the entire application process entirely online.
The benefit of this is that it has opened up competition among mortgage providers, which in turn has helped drive down rates.
All of the top deep-discount brokers that service the Calgary market also provide mortgages for Edmonton homebuyers. These brokers include:
Some of the larger brokerages that operate in Edmonton include Dominion Lending Centres, TMG The Mortgage Group and VERICO.
Many mortgage shoppers overlook local credit unions as a realistic mortgage alternative.
But those who ignore credit union mortgage rates do so at their own financial peril. Credit unions can offer among the best mortgage rates online. Not only that, but they tend to offer greater features and flexibility, not to mention specialized mortgage products for those with non-traditional employment and harder-to-prove income.
Many of Edmonton’s credit unions also tend to offer additional product options, including up to 35-year amortizations, whereas most other mortgage lenders, including the big banks, top out at 30 years.
Like mortgage shoppers across the country, many Edmontonians limit their mortgage rate search to their big bank. They do this primarily for the perceived convenience of having all of their financial accounts in one place at the same bank.
But in today’s age, there’s no reason for any mortgage shopper to limit their rate shopping to just one lender. Especially when it’s one of the Big Six banks, which often don’t have transparent rates.
While certain big banks may have the advantage due to the home equity lines of credit they offer with uninsured mortgages (RBC and TD, for example), homebuyers can often find better rate bargains elsewhere.
Non-bank lenders, such as First National and MCAP, offer very competitive mortgage rates, while credit unions can also be good alternatives, particularly for those with non-traditional income or those with unique borrowing needs. And their fixed-rate prepayment penalties can be much lower than the big banks.
Another option is to seek a qualified mortgage broker who can analyze your financial situation, make recommendations and search the most competitive rates among a pool of different lenders.
Additionally, mortgage brokers have the ability to “buy down” the mortgage rate offered by the lender, meaning they accept reduced compensation from the mortgage provider in order to get you a lower rate.
For a typical Edmonton mortgage, a rate that is one-tenth of a percentage lower than the advertised rate can save you thousands of dollars over your amortization period.
In terms of timing, the busy and competitive spring market is typically the best time to search for a mortgage, as that’s when most lenders offer their best rate promotions of the year.