With its stunning vistas and arm's length distance from Banff, the town of Canmore has been transforming itself from a sleepy mining town into a recreational haven since the 1990's. But thanks to a dwindling supply of properties, buying a second hand home in Canmore is getting harder than spotting a grizzly bear.

Since last September, the inventory of homes for sale in Canmore has dropped 40%, down from 332 to 202. Baby boomers are buying early to avoid the scant pickings expected in the next 10 years. "They're concerned that the prices are going to continue to spiral upwards and they won't be able to afford it when their retirement does come. This allows them to get a toehold into the market and a hedge against future appreciation, "says realtor Brad Hawker, who has seen the mountain town grow since the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

At the moment, Canmore boasts the most expensive recreational properties for sale in Alberta. Purchasing a 1,200-square-foot home with maple floors, open ceilings, a fireplace and a double car garage large enough to fit all of the family's toys will set you back at least $200,000. "Recreational buyers are not willing to give up the creature comforts that they are used to having in their home in the city," says Hawker.

The supply of homes is also being driven down by a weak Canadian dollar, which has turned Canmore into a magnet for international buyers from as far away as Europe, England and the United States.

But before you rush out and sell off your stock portfolio, consider sharing the investment with another family. Fractional ownership allows two families, related or not, to share property and holiday time to get the most usage out of a vacation home.

Whether you're purchasing a property in Canmore or Sylvan Lake, a recreational home is an investment. The rule is simple: Make sure you buy a home that is of interest to other buyers, says Hawker. A plan with open ceilings, a fireplace, quality construction, lots of storage area, a quiet location and a good view will guarantee that your jewel in the mountain doesn't turn out to be fool's gold.