Residential Heritage Properties on the Real Estate Market 

Realtors working in established communities will be more familiar with heritage properties.  They tend to be concentrated in inner-city communities, built out prior to 1945.  Pictured here is the “Windshield Survey” conducted by the City of Calgary in 2019-20  for 26 inner-city communities.  More than 4000 historic residential properties were identified!  Beautiful heritage homes can be found in other areas of Calgary too - just look at Bowness, Springbank Hill, and Shawnessy! 




Owners love their heritage homes.  In 2012-13 over 500 Century-old homes were celebrated with a banner, mapping and story program. 


The City maintains an inventory of 1000 (and growing) heritage resources. About 300 of these were originally used for residences, including multi-family, more than 30 of which have been designated with more in the works. Many of the designated properties have been repurposed for other uses, such as restaurants and shops. 


Heritage living is not just about stately homes.  Worker cottages and modest homes round out the mix. Original brick and sandstone row houses, apartments, and loft living in converted warehouses offer even more options. And some heritage homes have become revenue properties with suites to rent.  


Let heritage inspire you to re-think old buildings! We encourage you to work with your clients to think beyond land values and demolition. Opportunities for repurposing abound. 


Some interesting housing facts from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census:  

  • 2.5% of Calgary’s total housing stock (all dwelling types) was constructed prior to 1946, and just 1% prior to 1921. Canada wide, more than 5% of the housing stock is made up of century-old properties. So it's somewhat in short supply!  
  • 88% of Calgary’s housing stock constructed prior to 1921 (6555) is in good repair, requiring only regular maintenance or minor repairs. It’s well worth preserving! 


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Designation of Properties – Impact on Real Estate

Heritage homes have stood the test of times and are one-of-a-kind properties, unique in building materials and design.  This makes heritage properties easier to market and to promote their value, as they stand apart from conventional homes and attract often a more affluent and professional buyer.  Once a property is designated, it is identified as an irreplaceable heritage asset by the City of Calgary.



The School of Planning at the University of Waterloo (2009) found that 74% of individually designated properties equaled or bettered the average property value trend in the community.  The rate of sales among individually designated properties was equal to, or greater than, the general rate of sales of properties within their communities.  Designated properties also tended to resist downturns in the ambient market.


A compelling reason to own a heritage property is that owners become  eligible for grant programs available, if a property owner chooses to designate.  In the City’s budget for 2022-2023, consideration will also be given to tax rebates for designation.  


Click here to learn more about designation.


Further Reading: 


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Heritage Districts for the Real Estate Market

Properties located in “heritage districts” maintain and increase in value, when compared to similar buildings in non-designated streets or neighbourhoods.  This is because supply is limited.  There are fewer buildings in heritage areas compared to other properties on the real estate market overall.  The pressure on these ‘niche’ areas creates a market for higher demand.  As Donovan Rypkema puts it:  “When there is public confidence that the quality and character of a heritage district will be protected, a sizeable subset of the property market will display that confidence by paying a premium to own property there.” 



The market for heritage properties is currently changing in Calgary.  New protections and policies introduced by the City’s Planning Department will guide new development on streetscapes with clusters of heritage assets.  A heritage asset is defined as a property generally built before 1945 with sufficient historic significance and integrity.  A heritage asset does not necessarily qualify for the Inventory of Historic Resources, but it is valued due to its proximity with other heritage assets.  


Clusters of 25% heritage assets on streetscapes qualify for discretionary guidelines to be defined in local area planning as of 2021.  This means that when a property owner living on such a streetscape wants to submit an application for a development permit they must keep in mind the discretionary rules that apply to that streetscape.  The architectural guidelines or patterns of landscaping defined in relation to the heritage area help to maintain the character of the area.  This offers stability to property owners that would like to know ‘what can be built next door.’  


The City of Calgary offers a stricter level of control through the creation of “direct control districts” for heritage areas.  Between 2021 and 2023, a program of direct control heritage areas is being rolled out to home owners on streetscapes with at least 50% heritage assets.  Eligible property owners will be invited to work with the City to discuss unique architectural controls that could guide new development within the district.  The creation of direct control district does not prevent demolition or prevent infill redevelopment.  The elements subject to regulation are registered on the land title of each affected property within the district.  These direct control districts are created to provide more stability to an area that has heritage value.  


When assisting clients with choosing a neighbourhood, being able to tell them,  with some certainty, what future development will look like -- what could be built ‘next door’ -- provides assurance that their investment will be protected.  


Further Reading: 


  • Shipley, Robert.  2000.  Heritage Designation and Property Values:  Is there an effect?  The International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol.6, no. 1.
  • Hulley, Richard.  2016, Nov.  “The Rise of Heritage Conservation Districts,” OREA Newsletter.
  • Rypkema, Donovan.  2012. “Heritage Conservation and Property Values.”  World Bank Publications.
  • Shipley, Robert and Kayla Jonas Galvin.  2009.  “Heritage Conservation Districts Work,” University of Waterloo.


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Online Learning Event for Relators

Topic: Selling Heritage 101 – What you need to know about Designated and Protected Properties

Date: Tuesday, April 27

Time: 10:00 am to 11:30 am

Who should attend: Realtors active in Calgary's inner-city and established residential areas


You must be a member of the Calgary Real Estate Board to attend. Register for the training on CREB’s website.


Description: This course defines heritage, designation and protected properties. It explains what you can and cannot do with a heritage property, as well as the grants and opportunities available to heritage homeowners. The latter half of the course focuses on some issues which may arise in selling a heritage property and the best opportunities for finding the right buyer.


Presenter: Halyna Tataryn (P.Eng, MA - Architecture). Educated in Engineering, Urban Planning and Architecture, Halyna has extensive knowledge about architectural history and design, especially heritage homes. Her in-depth understanding of construction techniques, building materials and design. A former housing researcher with Canada Mortgage and Housing, and a licensed realtor from 2006-2020; currently an unlicensed real estate assistant and an active community volunteer.


The training will focus on:

  • What is a Heritage and Designated Property
  • Municipal and Provincial Designation
  • Myths, Constraints and Opportunities
  • Grants, Zoning and Development Rights
  • Establishing Market Value
  • Insurance and Other Issues Which May Arise
  • Marketing Strategy for a Heritage Property

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How Realtors Can Use This Website

Heritage Inspires YYC is an information resource that realtors are invited to share with their clients. 


Be in the know about: 



To learn more about planning terms and definitions, explore the FAQ below:


What is Neighbourhood Character?



Planning Terms



Types of Heritage Resources



Protection and Reuse of Heritage Resources



Heritage District Implications



Incentives for Heritage Conservation



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