This is a great debate so far and I agree with much that has been said. I agree with Pablo, especially with justsomeguy and also Dolphin. I am a REALTOR here in Fort McMurray and my educational background is Economics (MS, Oxford). None of what follows is advice. None of it discusses local statistics explicitly.
Assumptions + Model:
I want to look mainly at the demand side. While in reality the cost of labor and availability of land will affect house prices, for simplicity, let's assume in this model, that the cost of land and labor offset each other one-for-one. In this model, if the municipality releases more land, labor goes into shortage and wages are bid up. The cost of supplying lots and houses in this model is flat, regardless of the volume.
In this model therefore, prices are then dependent purely on demand. Let's say, demand is determined by household incomes, preferences and some multiplier (that multiplies more if credit is readily available). Let's also say that incomes depend on the oil price. The results of our model would be that house prices can go up if ANY of these variables goes up (without any other factors changing):
1) Higher Oil Price/Incomes
2) Looser credit (including mortgage rules, lower interest rates etc)
3) People preferring increasingly to live permanently in Fort McMurray
In reality this model is way too simple but it has interesting results for me. Two of those are very unpredictable IN THE SHORT RUN, which make the investment a risky one (talk to your financial adviser about your risk profile).
The model says: "if you want to know where prices are going, really think about 1), 2) and 3), as well as their determinents". For example shale-oil in the US, the rise of China, enviro-politics, the EU crisis, the prudent Canadian Finance Department and central bank. Is Fort McMurray going to be a nicer place to live in future or less so - ask anyone on twitter if you don't know the answer!
Of course, as with all risky assets, if you take the long-run view, things look less risky (and more rosey??)
The price to income ratio for Canada is about 5; that is the median house price is roughly 5 times the median family income. The median family income in Fort McMurray is $189k (2012) and is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years http://www.choosewoodbuffalo.ca/resources/data-centre/income/
. If Fort McMurray had the price/income ratio of Canada as a whole, the average house price would be around $945,000 [and I am talking all properties (inc condos), not just single family homes]. The number is significantly lower than this. Perhaps the rest of Canada is over-priced, or maybe there is room for local prices to increase (given incomes); it may be a junk statistic but it is interesting to me. I cannot distribute local statistics publicly, but you can check out some local data here http://www.woodbuffalo.net/linksFACTSHome.html
or play around in the MARKET RESEARCH SECTION of my own website here http://wbuff.com/search/market-research
To be sure to be notified whenever I publish a new blog you can like the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TomAlbrechtFM
Hope this helps the debate, and good luck in all your endeavors!