North America's newest real estate renaissance

Natural resources fuel housing, population boom in North Dakota, Saskatchewan

Six years ago, my wife and I took a car ride through the center of Saskatchewan, Canada, spending a few days in the capital city of Regina and the small, isolated town of Moose Jaw. We preferred Moose Jaw.

At least Moose Jaw had some quirky things going for it, such as an underground town trail. Regina seemed beat-up and despondent. I guess I arrived two years too early, because around 2007 the province of Saskatchewan caught economic fire, uplifting its two biggest cities: Saskatoon and Regina.

When the U.S. and Eastern Canada began slipping into recession and residential real estate values collapsed like deflated balloons, home prices skyrocketed in Saskatoon and Regina and investors partied like it was 1999 in a Miami Beach condo. They are still partying today, but more moderately.

"In Regina, three-bedroom houses that sold for about $110,000 in 2006 saw prices climb to $270,000 before leveling off," reported Rod Spence of Century 21 Conexus Realty Ltd. in Regina.