A national trend towards bigger and better houses is boosting average home prices in Red Deer. A Century 21 Canada National Housing Market Outlook based on national Multiple Listing Service statistics shows average house prices in 21 communities across Canada have climbed 16 per cent to $163,682 in October from $141,438 in October 1999. Margaret Anderson, with Red Deers Century 21 Lesand Advantage, said locally the average house price climbed to $180,994 from $149,684 over three years a 20.9 per cent increase. Anderson said that doesnt mean every home in Red Deer is worth nearly 21 per cent more than it was three years ago. A typical home has risen in value about three per cent a year. What the statistics show is an increase in the number of higher-end homes sold in Red Deer. Its especially visible when you drive through the new subdivisions, she said. For instance, six homes were sold locally worth $200,000 to $300,000 in October 1999. The past October, 18 buyers picked up the keys for homes in that price range. Persistently low interest rates are a key reason for the popularity of larger homes across the country, she said. A three-year mortgage is at about 5.13 per cent now compared with about eight per cent in the fall of 1999. People can afford more house than they did before. Two-income families and the general economic prosperity of the area are other factors, she said. It is not uncommon to see 2,000-square-foot homes with all the bells and whistles, including pre-wired and specially insulated entertainment rooms, energy-efficient windows, higher quality finishing and other features. Red Deers statistics are similar to those recorded in the provinces two largest cities. Calgarys average house prices have climbed 19 per cent to $201,316 from $169,068. Edmontons average price is up 25 per cent to $150,397 from $120,027. The highest price increase occurred in Ottawa where house prices climbed 38 per cent to $200,840 from $145,121. Thunder Bay, Ont., was the only community that saw average house prices fall. An average house cost $114,714 in October 1999 compared with $94,467 last October, an 18 per cent drop.