Calgary outpaces province

Calgary outpaces province

Single-family home construction starts in Calgary and area hit 3,085 in the first six months of 2013

Photograph by: Files , Calgary Herald

Construction starts of single-family homes during the first half of 2013 in the Calgary area were the highest of all urban centres in Alberta — outpacing activity from a year earlier, says a federal agency.

Construction starts from Jan. 1 to the end of June reached 3,085, up nine per cent from 2,830 during the same time in 2012, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The starts occurred in the Calgary census metropolitan area, which includes outlying communities such as Airdrie and Cochrane as well as the city.

The second-busiest centre from Jan. 1 to the end of June was the Edmonton census metropolitan area at 2,800, up eight per cent from 2,595 starts during the same period last year.

In terms of the Calgary area, “(single-family) home construction for the first half of 2013 has been fairly steady,” says senior market analyst Richard Cho of CMHC. “We’re seeing some economic factors that are supporting housing demand.”

Among those factors are employment opportunities, he says.

“In 2012, we had an impressive number of jobs created,” says Cho. “We had a record number of net migrants come to Calgary as well — and, of course, that will lead to a higher demand for housing.”

Net migration refers to the inflow of people to the Calgary area minus the outflow.

Last month, 554 single-family homes broke ground in the Calgary area, a 4.3 per cent improvement compared to 531 starts during the same month last year.

But for the month of June, construction starts of single-family homes in the Edmonton area were tops in Alberta at 589, up 13 per cent from 522 starts during the same month in 2012.

Total single-family housing starts for all urban centres in Alberta improved from Jan. 1 to the end of June 2013 compared to a year earlier.

In this span, 7,736 homes broke ground, up 11 per cent from 6,973 starts during the same period in 2012.


While construction starts of single-family homes in the Calgary area last month were up from the same time in 2012, total new home construction was down, says a federal agency.

Housing starts of all kinds — including multi-family development — eased to 912 in June, down 30 per cent from 1,184 during the same month in 2012, says Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.


Did the Flood Frustrate Your Real Estate Contract?

This is a repost from my good lawyer friend Jeff V. Kahane as he and I have had many questions about it.

Did the Flood Frustrate Your Real Estate Contract?

     We’ve all seen the horrific images over the past weeks of those directly affected by record flood waters. What we haven’t seen reported in the mainstream media is those who have been directly impacted by virtue of having bought or sold a property, and settling on a possession date during or after the flood.
     Many questions arise when realtors, lenders, lawyers, and others in real estate-related professions face the daunting prospect of resolving these untimely transactions. Let’s explore just one of those aspects which has inevitably arisen: sellers or buyers wanting to get out of their purchase contract as a result of the floodwaters affecting their property in question.
     The law contains a legal doctrine known as “frustration of contract” which applies in certain limited circumstances to discharge parties from their obligations under a contract. The doctrine is an exception to the principle of caveat emptor, or ‘buyer beware’ and requires three requirements: 1) a supervening event; 2) beyond the control of the parties; and 3) the incident must have been beyond the contemplation of the parties.
     Inevitably, the question arises of how frustrated a purchase contract must be before a seller or buyer can get out of the contract. Does 2 inches of river water in a home give a purchaser reason to avoid taking possession of the house? Does the prospect of months of necessary remediation give a seller grounds to terminate their contractual obligations (possibly with the underlying prospect of having the province pay for a brand new basement which the selling home-owner always longed for)?  
     The third requirement above is the one which creates the most uncertainty. If you find yourself in this situation you should seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer. But generally speaking, a real estate purchase contract may be terminated due to frustration when something occurs between the signing of the contract and the possession date which renders it physically impossible to fulfill the contract or transforms one or both parties’ obligations into something radically different than that undertaken at the time the purchase contract was entered into.
     At the end of the day, it falls to the parties, with the advice of a lawyer, to determine how much frustration is too much for the contract to be successfully completed. For a more thorough discussion on this topic and many others please visit our blog at

Alberta almost at 4,000,000 people – they have to live somewhere

Paula Simons column in the Calgary Herald this weekend entitled “ Population Growth will Change Alberta forever” is, without a doubt, an interesting read.

 The article states  “Last year alone, Alberta welcomed almost 200,000 new arrivals (198,285 to be exact).  Most fresh Albertans came from other parts of Canada more than 110,000.”

 Paula continues the article “That breakneck pace isn’t slowing.  In June, Statistics Canada reported an estimated 26,714 people moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada in the first quarter of 2013”

All of this will keep the Alberta housing market alive and rising as all these people have to live some where. The rental vacancy rate in Calgary is now less than 1%. Expect prices to rise due to the demand.


Population growth will change Alberta forever

By Paula Simons, Calgary Herald July 5, 2013
Four million. Four million Albertans.

No one is quite sure exactly when our provincial odometer will tick over, but some time in the next few weeks and months, there will be four million people living in this province.

Our current estimated total population is 3,965,339. That means we only need a population increase of 35,000 to reach four million. Of course, in a year, some people leave the province. Some die. Still, given Alberta’s annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent, by far the highest in Canada, we’re on track to hit 4.1 million residents by this time next year.

By way of comparison, British Columbia’s current population is 4.6 million.

“It’s a benchmark,” says Todd Hirsch, ATB Financial’s chief economist. “We’re going to require some time to think of ourselves as a province of four million people.

“This is no longer your grandfather’s Alberta. At these current growth rates, Alberta will surpass British Columbia by the year 2020.”

“The momentum is ours, because of the jobs and economic activity we have here,” says Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner. “Frankly, four million is a big number. But we’re going to hit the five-million mark sooner than most people think — before 2020. No doubt there’s going to be a shift in the way Albertans think about their future.”

Frank Trovato is a professor of demography and population studies in the University of Alberta’s department of sociology.

“A milestone of four million is not insignificant for people, for their sense of self,” he says.

“Growth means more influence from a cultural, political and economic perspective,” Trovato says. “I think, as a province, we are developing a greater sense of who we are, a greater sense of our own importance.”

In truth, we’ve long thought of ourselves as a province of three million or so, fourth place in Confederation. But we may have reached both a demographic and a psychological tipping point.

Last year alone, Alberta welcomed almost 200,000 new arrivals — 198,285, to be precise. Who were they, exactly? The answer may surprise you.

In 2012, Alberta saw a record number of immigrants: 35,764, from some 200 different countries, with the largest number coming from the Philippines, India, China and the United Kingdom.

Alberta also produced a record number of babies last year — a bumper crop of 52,398.

But most “fresh” Albertans came from other parts of Canada. In 2012, more than 110,000 people migrated from other provinces to this one.

That breakneck pace isn’t slowing. In June, Statistics Canada reported an estimated 26,714 people moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada in the first quarter of 2013. In the same quarter, another 13,276 left Alberta — we’re a province in flux. Still, that gave us a net interprovincial gain of 13,438 — one of the highest quarterly gains Alberta has seen in the last 20 years.

The majority of new arrivals, whether from abroad or another province, are young — between 18 and 44, in their prime child-bearing years. Indeed, last year, Alberta actually “produced” almost 10,000 more babies than British Columbia.

IT consultant Karen Parker, 35, and her husband Dan Sameoto, 34, a professor of mechanical engineering, are a case in point. She’s from Hamilton, Ont. He grew up in Dartmouth, N.S. They moved to Edmonton three years ago from Vancouver, after Sameoto got a job at the U of A. Their son Robert was born here one month later. Three weeks ago, he was followed by a very fresh Albertan, baby sister Charlotte.

How is life in Alberta? “It was definitely a big adjustment for us,” says Parker. “I actually didn’t know how to drive when I moved to Edmonton! But we love the city. We love our neighbourhood. We love our quality of life. It’s also a super family-friendly city. There’s so much to do with kids here. We’re not going anywhere else, any time soon.”

The demographic shift Parker and Sameoto illustrate is reshaping our province in profound ways, changing our political and social culture, transforming what it means to be a “typical” Albertan.

“We are becoming more diverse, culturally and ethnically,” says Trovato, “and much more urban.”

Is this remarkable growth good news? Bad news? Something between? Certainly, our extraordinary demographic trend stands to gobble up agricultural land, tax our watersheds, strain our electrical grid, our freeways, our schools, our hospitals.

Keeping pace isn’t easy. Yet just as economic prosperity drives population growth, population growth itself helps to fuel the economy, creating more demands for goods, for services, for housing.

As we close in on the four-million mark, as we plan for five million, we must find ways to balance the demands of growth with the needs of our community and of our environment, ways to reform our political institutions to reflect more fairly our new demographic realities.

It’s time for us to lose our inferiority complex, that chip on our shoulders. Time for us to prepare for a new role, and new destiny.

Paula Simons is an Edmonton Journal columnist.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald  

How low are interest rates? Really? Here is the big picture…

I just found this and thought it would be interesting for clients that call and tell me 3.49% for a 5 year fixed is way to high!

I’m not sure what you were expecting so here is a good barometer of the real picture.

  • 6.5% = the 30 year average of the 5 year fixed closed, mortgage term
  • 4.0% = the theoretical lowest the 5 year can go as banks need to borrow the funds, administer them and make a profit,
  • 2.89% = the lowest the 5 year rate has ever been.

Now for the big picture…

Short version: rates are the lowest of all time … like a 496 year low. Is that low enough?

“in July 2012, 10-year yields in the US thus reached with 1.39% the lowest level since the beginning of records in the year 1790.

In the Netherlands – which provide the longest available time series for bond prices – interest rates fell to a 496 year low.

In the UK, ‘base rates’ are currently at the lowest level since the founding of the Bank of England in 1694.

In numerous countries (Germany, Switzerland), short term interest rates even fell into negative territory.”

SO … mortgage interest rates have never been lower and now the trend is up.