Election results puts real estate in limbo

Election results puts real estate in limbo

Election results puts real estate in limbo The NDPs landslide victory in Alberta could have a positive effect on some real estate investments – not so much for others.

Alberta-based REITS specializing in apartments woke up Wednesday morning facing some future uncertainty surrounding their Alberta properties thanks to the election of NDP leader Rachel Notley, rumoured to be a proponent of rent control initiatives in the province.

Notley told the Calgary Herald last October before the election was called that the province needed some form of rent control, a tenet completely out of a character for a province that strongly believes in free markets rents.

“If we leave it to the market,” Notley said, “there will end up being a market for tent space in this park.”

Two of Canada’s biggest publicly traded apartment REITS with significant exposure to Alberta – Boardwalk Real Estate Investment Trust and MainStreet Equity – both feel it’s way too early in the game to think its investors have anything to fear at this point.
That said, both feel rent controls would be bad news for renters living in the province as it would create artificial shortages of housing.

“It has been demonstrated that the free market is the best answer to supply and demand,” MainStreet CEO Bob Dhillon told the Financial Post. “Are you helping the tenants by putting in rent controls? I don’t believe so.”

That might be true but investors don’t like uncertainty. As such, advisors whose clients are currently invested in REITs with significant exposure to the Alberta market, such as Main Street or Boardwalk, might want to consider alternatives that are invested elsewhere.

Toronto-based Centurion Asset Management offers Canadian Apartment REIT, a private REIT that currently invests in apartments and student housing in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. With approximately 5,000 units in 16 cities, it does have plans to grow outside its current markets.

Is Alberta in the cards? That likely depends on what happens once the NDP have had a chance to take the reins of power. For more information on private REITs click here.