The iPhone’s sexy, but ‘iSave’ is far smarter
With all the hype on the new iPhone 5, this puts it a bit into perspective.
Interesting 3 minute read.
Rob Carrick http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/the-iphones-sexy-but-i-save-is-far-smarter/article4550301/
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Sep. 17 2012, 8:10 PM EDT
The new Apple iPhone 5 tells us a lot about why you can’t get your financial act together.
The iPhone is a brilliant device – a deluxe cellphone that has become a cultural icon. So important is the iPhone 5 that the announcement of its features and release date – it’s Sept. 21 – were treated globally as a major media event. Who doesn’t now know that the iPhone 5 is 18 per cent thinner and 20 per cent lighter than its predecessor?
A man talks on a mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai in this September 3, 2012 file photo. Although Apple makes billions from new phones, a significant portion of its sales in recent years have come from dropping the price on older models once a new phone or tablet hits stores REUTERS
Apple could sell 33 million iPhone 5s globally this quarter, a tribute to the company’s gadget-building supremacy. But iPhones are also symbolic of a change in society’s attitude toward money. We now get our gratification through spending money rather than by saving it.
The savings rate in Canada has been falling for decades, more or less in line with the decline in interest rates. Today, savings accounts offer less than 1 per cent in many cases and barely 2 per cent at best. As a result, a lot of us have come to believe that saving is useless, even foolish. And so, we’ve moved on to spending.
The iPhone 5 will sell for a suggested retail price between $699 and $899 (depending on how much memory it offers), but in the past it has been possible to pay much less if you sign up for a multi-year wireless phone plan. If an iPhone sounds like an affordable luxury, ask yourself these questions:
However much the phone costs, have I contributed at least that much money, and preferably much more, to my retirement savings this year?
Have I contributed anything at all to my kids’ registered education savings plan?
Do I have any money saved that I can tap if the car’s “check engine” light comes on, if the basement floods, if the orthodontist says my kid really needs braces or if I lose my job?
If you’re covered on all of this, enjoy your new iPhone. Otherwise, you might want to reconsider that purchase because your spending and saving are out of balance.
The roughest rule of saving is that you should be putting away 10 per cent of your take-home pay for the future in a tax-free savings account or a registered retirement or education savings fund. If you’re getting a late start as a saver, your number is higher.
External factors like wage freezes and inflation can affect our ability to save, and today’s low interest rates offer no encouragement. But the biggest impediment is in our own heads. We see more value in spending than in saving.
In a way, spending by consumers is a good thing because it accounts for roughly two-thirds of our economy. But spending takes away from saving in today’s zero-sum economy, where wage growth isn’t strong enough to put us ahead of inflation. The only way to save more is to spend less.
The iPhone and similar devices make that a challenge because of the way they draw you into a web of higher spending. You could buy a cheap cellphone and your wireless phone company would probably give it to you for free if you signed up for a service plan. A basic cellphone would mean simple data needs, so you could probably get away with an inexpensive plan.
With an iPhone, you’ll pay extra to buy the phone and likely face higher monthly plan costs. And then there’s the temptation to upgrade. An iPhone 5 bought this fall could be superseded by something better within 12 months. By then, there will probably be a new iPad and, who knows, but maybe Research In Motion will have turned some heads with the new BlackBerry 10. Every new product is competition for money you could otherwise use to save or pay down debt.
You’re urged to buy things all the time via mass media, but there’s no lobby for saving. Apple had Steve Jobs on its side. Savers are stuck with Benjamin Franklin, who said that a penny saved is a penny earned.
How can we get people saving more, then? By making it automatic, not discretionary. Have money electronically diverted from your chequing account to your RRSP, TFSA, RESP or a savings account every time you get paid. Have some money left over after the bills are paid? Hello, iPhone.
How the savings rate has tracked in the past 50 years
(data taken from first quarter from each year)
Source: Statistics Canada
Burgeoning Calgary population to fuel demand in housing market & the West is now bigger than the East!
The migration West continues! Just yesterday Canada Census noted that for the first time in history the West has more people than the East – sure it is only by 0.1% but hey … it’s official.
The migration continues mostly for jobs in energy and all those people need homes to live in. This supports prices and continued demand – but unfortunately fills up the roads and parking lots too.
New home construction and MLS sales on upswing
CALGARY — A burgeoning population will spark another real estate cycle in Calgary with increased demand fuelling more MLS sales and more new home construction.
But industry experts don’t expect the next cycle to mirror the boom of a couple of years ago which experienced a frenzy of activity and fast-rising house prices due to a lack of supply.
Instead, a stable, steady growth is expected in Calgary’s real estate market.
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported the Calgary census metropolitan area had the highest rate of population growth in the country at 12.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011 and is now more than 1.2 million for the region.
Tim Logel, president and partner of home builder Cardel Lifestyles in Calgary, said the population data supports what the industry believes is happening in the market.
“What’s positive about it is that as more people move to Calgary then more of the inventory or the supply that we’ve been working on reducing gets absorbed,” said Logel. “And it gets absorbed quicker and gets us closer to being in a higher demand environment where we’re being asked to produce more new housing products of all types for the market … Over the next year with this in-migration, the extra supply will be absorbed.”
Logel said a new real estate cycle has been started in the city. The last one finished in the spring of 2007 in the Calgary market.
Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist for the Calgary Real Estate Board, said the growing population will help support increased demand for housing in the resale market as well.
“In the resale market, especially moving forward, we think this will also help really take up some of that inventory that is in the market because we had some out-migration in the past few years. 2010 in particular, in-migration levels were extremely slow and so that impacted our housing market as well,” said Lurie.
CREB is forecasting single-family MLS sales activity to increase by 12.2 per cent this year from 2011 levels and condo transactions to jump by 5.9 per cent. Its forecast is also for average sale prices of single-family homes to rise by 2.1 per cent and by 1.7 per cent for condos.
“It’s much more of a stable growth than it was during the last boom. I just don’t see us moving there,” said Lurie. “We’re not moving into that scenario. It’s a much more stable growth and we have a good supply of inventory right now in the resale market and frankly on the new home market they do have some room to improve in some of their construction.
“They’ve got some room to grow and build more to help meet with those household formation numbers.”
Already in January some real estate data, released Wednesday, is indicating support for increased activity in the market as housing starts and residential building permits showed impressive increases compared with a year ago.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., housing starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area totalled 786 units in January, up 52 per cent from 518 units a year ago.
In the region, 336 single-detached units broke ground in January, up 14.7 per cent from the 293 units started in January 2011.
“This represents the sixth consecutive month where starts have increased on a year-over-year basis,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for the CMHC.
Multi-family starts, which include semi-detached units, rows and apartments, increased to 450 units in January, up from 225 units a year earlier.
“As was the case in the last several months, apartment construction continues to be elevated, averaging more than 340 starts per month since August 2011,” said Cho.
Also, the estimated construction value of building permit applications for the residential sector in Calgary rose by 42 per cent in January compared with a year ago.
In releasing its latest data on Wednesday, the City said residential values increased to $153 million compared with $108 million in January 2011. This represents 651 new residential units, a 73 per cent increase compared with the January 2011 total of 376.
“The overall gain in residential value and number of new residential units can be attributed to increases in the apartment and townhouse sectors,” said Kevin Griffiths, chief building official with the city’s department of development and building approvals.
“For the month of January we accepted six apartment applications for 193 new units compared to zero last year, and 20 townhouse applications for 122 new units, compared to only seven townhouse applications totalling 44 units for the same period last year.”
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Calgary house prices to get burst of energy
House prices to get burst of energy
Where oil goes, so goes Calgary.
As much as we like to say the city isn’t as dependent on black gold for its health and prosperity, the fact is, we are.
With oil prices regaining strength and with hiring happening in the oilfields, the economy is beginning to strengthen — and it’s pulling consumer confidence along with it.
A real estate axiom says that when the economy is good, the pace of home sales at the higher end of the market increases.
People in those income brackets aren’t likely to buy if there is an indication the economy is headed south.
“That’s probably true,” says Norb Park, managing broker with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “The business-minded are probably saying the economy is heading in the right direction, the oilpatch is in good shape, so this isn’t a bad time to deal.”
Resale housing statistics from the Calgary Real Estate Board tend to agree.
From the start of the year to the end of August, 948 homes priced at $700,000 and more changed hands, up from 779 for the same eight-month period in 2010.
In August, sales in that price range totalled 104 compared with 67 for the same month a year ago.
“There’s a mindset that when oil is doing well, then the economy must be good,” says Park. “That, in turn, increases consumer optimism — and right now, people are feeling positive.”
But not all of us can afford homes that expensive.
Matter of fact, nearly 50 per cent of single-family homes sold this year and last were priced between $300,000 and $450,000.
“With Calgary’s energy sector slated to grow, it is expected to lift the city’s employment, income and in-migration — and in turn help contribute to growth in the resale market,” says Sano Stante, president of the Calgary Real Estate Board. In-migration refers to the migration of people to the city.
“We expect price growth to improve as we approach the end of 2011 and move into 2012,” he says, adding the market is seeing a boost in sales at both ends of the market.
“Improving economic conditions, coupled with affordability and price stability, has given Calgary a boost in buyers for upper-end homes and entry-level condos,” he says.
CREB also reports the average price for single-family resale homes reached $468,051 by the end of August, a one-per-cent increase compared to last year.
Taking a page from the RBC affordability reports, Stante says: “When looking at Canada’s major cities, Calgary is one of the most affordable regions for homeownership in the country. Buyers are benefiting from improved selection at all price ranges in the market.”
The single-family home market had 1,106 sales in August, an increase of 28 per cent when compared to the same month last year — which, by the way, was the lowest for August since 1994.
Sales of 9,485 for the start of the year to the end of August are 10-per-cent higher than the same period last year.
Condo sales totalled 468 units in August 2011, with a year-to-date total of 3,885 — similar to levels recorded in the first eight months of 2010.
Just like the sale of used single-family homes, the pace is also quickening for resale condos.
As of the end of August, 834 units sold at prices below $200,000, well up from 596 for the same eight-month period in 2010, says the Calgary Real Estate Board. But condo prices continue to remain one per cent lower than last year’s figures with an average price of $288,167 for January to August.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Canada gets high score on quality of life index
Les Bazso/Postmedia News
Canada scored at or near the top in such areas as housing, education, health and life satisfaction, among 34 major industrialized countries.
By Peter O’Neil, Postmedia News Europe Correspondent
PARIS — Canadians have a “better life” than anyone in the western world except — by a narrow margin — Australians, according to a new analysis released Tuesday.
Canada scored at or near the top in such areas as housing, education, health and life satisfaction, among 34 major industrialized countries.
Sweden ranked third among the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; the U.S. was seventh; and Turkey was a distant last.
The Better Life Initiative survey marked a major attempt by the Paris-based OECD, an economic and social policy think-tank funded by its members, to provide a broader measure of a country’s success than gross domestic product figures.
“People around the world have wanted to go beyond GDP for some time,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said in a statement.
“This index is designed for them. It has extraordinary potential to help us deliver better policies for better lives.”
The index compares the 34 countries in 11 areas — housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.
Canada ranked first in terms of access to affordable housing, second on “life satisfaction,” and third on three categories — safety, health and education.
Canada’s worst score was in the area of governance, where it was near the middle of the pack.
While 67% of Canadians trust their political institutions, well above the OECD average of 56%, voter turnout in national elections was around 60% — well below the 72% average.
The report, in a commentary on government transparency, noted that Canadians can’t use the Internet or telephone to get information under Canada’s access-to-information laws.
“In addition, there are no provisions for anonymity or protection from retaliation.”
In its breakout analysis for Canada, the OECD tossed in a poll result from 2008 that wasn’t considered in Canada’s overall ranking but may, according to an official, help explain why many in the country have “better lives.”
Roughly two-thirds of Canadians, or 66%, “reported having helped a stranger in the last month, the highest figure in the OECD” and well above the average of 46%.
Posted in: Canada, Posted Tags: Canada quality of life, OECD, OECD quality of life index, Quality of life
Real estate: A ‘secret’ tax shelter
By Jason Heath
TFSAs have been a welcome addition to the tax shelter landscape in Canada, but they leave something to be desired for those with substantial assets and maxed out RRSP and TFSA room.
Film limited partnerships have disappeared, charitable donation tax shelters were flawed from the start and the investment tax credit for flow-through shares may or may not be extended in the next budget.
Real estate is often overlooked in the quest for tax reduction and deferral, let alone income generation and inflation protection. If real estate is all of these things, why doesn’t everyone own a rental property? The answer is simple – money.
It’s not that investors don’t have the money to get into the rental property market, because this can be easily accomplished with leverage and minimal monthly carrying costs. The problem is there is simply no money to be made by financial professionals when it comes to rental real estate. The result is that rental real estate is a secret tax shelter that few people ever consider.
Investment advisors sell stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Insurance agents sell insurance policies. Accountants sell tax preparation services. Real estate agents sell real estate, but they tend to sell real estate from a vendor to a purchaser to be used solely as a principle residence.
So rental real estate ends up being a golden goose, elusive, yet attractive.
According to Harvard professor Niall Ferguson in The Ascent of Money, “The original property game we know today as Monopoly was actually invented back in 1903 to expose the unfairness of a social system where a small minority of landlords [took advantage of] the majority of tenants.
“What the game of Monopoly tells us, contrary to its inventor’s intentions, is that it’s smart to own property.”
First, a lesson in rental real estate taxation. Rental income is taxable and rental expenses, including mortgage or line of credit interest, are tax-deductible. In many cases, if a property is financed, it will run at a loss for tax purposes creating a tax deduction against all other sources of income and therefore, a tax refund. In the meantime, real estate values grow tax-deferred until an eventual sale. Even if a property runs at positive cash flow for tax purposes, depreciation can be claimed to wipe out some or all of the taxable income inclusion.
Rental real estate has been described by some as the equivalent of a super-charged RRSP. What is a traditional RRSP? It’s a tax-deferred savings vehicle; contributions are tax-deductible; it provides a future income stream; and it’s an investment asset. Rental real estate incorporates all of these features, plus there’s no pre-determined maximum tax deduction limit like with RRSPs; withdrawals aren’t forced at age 71 like with RRIFs; contributions can be financed and the interest can be deducted, unlike RRSP loans; and the taxes paid on selling a rental property are at the 50% capital gains tax rate, unlike RRSP withdrawals which are fully taxable.
The Harvard and Yale endowment funds have more than 50% of their assets invested in non-traditional asset classes, like real estate. The Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan, the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada, has 18% of their pension assets invested in real estate. Maybe Harvard, Yale and the OTTP know something the mainstream investment community doesn’t know.
Jason Heath is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP) for E.E.S. Financial Services Ltd. in Markham, Ontario.
Calgary ranks third on global prosperity score card
Calgary ranks third on global prosperity score card: Toronto Board of Trade
BY KIM GUTTORMSON, CALGARY HERALD
Calgary is back near the top of a score card that ranks prosperity in a number of cities around the world, besting all other Canadian metros on the list.
Strong population growth, a young workforce, disposable income, affordable housing and clean air helped boost the city to the number three spot on the list behind Paris and San Francisco.
That’s up from last year’s fifth place ranking, but below its first place finish in 2009, the first time the Toronto Board of Trade compiled results, using information from the Conference Board of Canada — including commute time, income equality, gross domestic product and productivity — to compare 24 major cities.
However, Calgary did score low in some key areas, including transportation.
“I think it speaks to Calgary’s more dynamic economy, more dynamic than we had in the ‘80s when it took us years to crawl out of the recession,” Todd Hirsch, senior economist at ATB Financial, said of the city’s post-recession recovery. “What you’d really hate is to be extremely high in some (indicators) and at the bottom on others.
“You’d rather be really good on a number of indicators and get an overall ranking quite high, like Calgary got.”
The Toronto board of Trade said “Calgary’s success comes from a combination of solid fundamentals in both (economy and labour attractiveness), not just from a robust economy. With the fastest population growth of all metros, Calgary proved that it was an attractive place for people seeking work.
“Calgary’s housing affordability and clean air provide further evidence of its livability.”
Elsbeth Mehrer, director of research, workforce and strategy for Calgary Economic Development, says the city’s ranking shows it should be a choice destination for both companies and people.
“To be able to put the city in the context of major global cities like Paris and San Francisco, that’s an important frame around our positioning,” she said. “I think that helps to elevate the conversation to a different level.
“If you’re comparing yourselves with communities of this stature, now it’s a very different conversation in terms of the types of target companies you’re trying to attract, the types of investment.”
On the score card Calgary ranked third overall, and third for being attractive to workers (behind Paris and London).
The ability to attract labour is important, said Chamber of Commerce chief economist Ben Brunnen, because “the labour shortage, labour retention issue is starting to emerge again. Positioning Calgary as a destination for young talent is a fundamental first step for long-term prosperity.”
Calgary placed sixth if only the economy was looked at (behind San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Dallas and New York).
The Toronto Board of Trade wrote that Calgary overcame “near-bottom rankings on venture capital investment, market size, and IPOs, with first or second-place results on income growth, unemployment rate, residential building permit growth and GDP growth” to get to that sixth spot.
Calgary’s average office rents also put them in the top half of the rankings, in that they’re cheaper than more than 50 per cent of the list.
In the first three months of 2011, according to CB Richard Ellis, Calgary’s office vacancy fell to 12 per cent from 15 per cent compared to the same period a year before. Regional managing director for Alberta Greg Kwong said in a release that given the amount of office space coming onto the Calgary market, the drop is “amazing. This is a testament to how resilient Calgary’s office market has become.”
However, for all the good news, the city rated an overall 13th place in the transportation category.
That factored in an average commute time of 67 minutes, longer than Los Angeles, Chicago and Berlin, but better than Toronto’s 80 minutes, and a score in the bottom half when public transit ridership was evaluated.
“It points out some of the warts, too,” Hirsch said of the score card. “It’s good to be made aware of this is where we rank in global cities when it comes to commute times. A 60-minute commute time is not normal, this not just being part of a big city.
“This is a problem. Who knows where we would be if we could solve some of those transportation problems.”
Calgary also ranked lower in areas that included productivity and venture capital, which Mehrer said are on-going issues the city’s business community knows need work.
“It reaffirms what we know needs to be a focus,” she said.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Canada’s homeownership affordability improves for the first time in over a year says RBC
TORONTO, Nov. 29 /CNW/ – After four consecutive quarters of rising homeownership costs, housing affordability improved in the third quarter of 2010 thanks primarily to a drop in mortgage rates and some softening in home prices, according to the latest Housing Trends and Affordability report released today by RBC Economics Research.
“The improvement in affordability during the third quarter has relieved some of the stress that had been mounting in Canada’s housing market over the past year,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC. “After appreciating rapidly during the strong rebound in resale activity last year and early this year, national home prices recently came off the burner and retreated modestly as market conditions cooled considerably through the spring and summer.”
The RBC Housing Trends and Affordability report notes that, at the national level, the third quarter improvement in affordability reversed almost two-thirds of the cumulative deterioration that took place over the previous four quarters. For the most part, the RBC Housing Affordability Measures returned to their levels at the end of 2009.
The RBC Housing Affordability Measure captures the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a specified category of home. During the third quarter of 2010, measures at the national level fell between 1.4 and 2.5 percentage points across the housing types tracked by RBC (a decrease represents an improvement in affordability).
The detached bungalow benchmark measure eased by 2.4 of a percentage point to 40.4 per cent, the standard condominium measure declined by 1.4 of a percentage point to 27.8 per cent and the standard two-storey home experienced the largest decrease, falling 2.5 percentage points to 46.3 per cent.
Despite some decline in home prices over last quarter, prices were still 5.8 to 6.8 per cent higher year-over-year at the national level. Conventional fixed mortgage rates came down in the third quarter, with the five-year posted rate (the basis on which the RBC Measures are calculated) falling more than 0.5 percentage points to an average of 5.52 per cent, entirely reversing the rise in the second quarter.
RBC notes that affordability could well improve further in the near term, with additional cuts in the posted five-year fixed rate already in place in the early part of the fourth quarter and previous home price increases still being rolled back in certain markets. However, RBC expects the Bank of Canada will resume its rate hiking campaign by the second quarter of next year, which will eventually have a more sustained upward effect on mortgage rates.
“Higher mortgage rates will be the dominant factor raising homeownership costs beyond the short term, although increasing household income – as the job situation continues to strengthen in Canada – will provide some positive offset,” added Hogue. “We expect housing demand and supply to remain mostly in balance overall, setting the course for very modest home price increases.”
All provinces saw improvements in affordability in the third quarter, particularly in British Columbia where elevated property values amplified the effect of the decline in mortgage rates on monthly mortgage charges. Ontario also experienced some notable drops in homeownership costs, pushing down the RBC Measures below their long-term average in the province for bungalows and condominiums. Alberta and Manitoba are the only two provinces where the RBC Measures stand below their long-term average in all housing categories, indicating little stress in these markets.
RBC’s Housing Affordability Measure for a detached bungalow in Canada’s largest cities is as follows: Vancouver 68.8 per cent (down 5.4 percentage points from the last quarter), Toronto 47.2 per cent (down 3.0 percentage points), Montreal 41.7 per cent (down 1.3 percentage points), Ottawa 38.2 per cent (down 2.9 percentage points), Calgary37.1 per cent (down 2.0 percentage points) and Edmonton 32.7 per cent (down 2.0 percentage points).
The RBC Housing Affordability Measure, which has been compiled since 1985, is based on the costs of owning a detached bungalow, a reasonable property benchmark for the housing market in Canada. Alternative housing types are also presented including a standard two-storey home and a standard condominium. The higher the reading, the more costly it is to afford a home. For example, an affordability reading of 50 per cent means that homeownership costs, including mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes, take up 50 per cent of a typical household’s monthly pre-tax income.
Highlights from across Canada:
- British Columbia: Lower home prices and declining mortgage rates brought the B.C. housing market some welcomed reprieve in the third quarter from the significant deterioration in affordability recorded since the middle of 2009. Amid much cooler resale activity through the spring and summer and greater availability of properties for sale, home prices either fell, particularly for bungalows, or remained stable in the case of condominium apartments. The RBC Housing Affordability Measures for B.C. dropped between 1.8 and 5.0 percentage points, representing the largest declines since the first quarter of 2009; however, all remained significantly above long-term averages. Poor affordability is likely to continue to weigh on housing demand in the province in the period ahead.
- Alberta: Despite recording substantial affordability improvements since early 2008, housing demand in Alberta is still a shadow of its former self from just a few years ago and there are few signs that it is picking up meaningfully. The RBC Measures eased between 0.8 and 1.8 percentage points, more than reversing modest rises in the second quarter. Homeownership is among the most affordable in Canada both in absolute terms and relative to historical averages. RBC notes such a high degree of affordability bodes well for a strengthening housing demand once the provincial job market sustains more substantial gains.
Calgary tops the list in places to buy in Canada!
Where to buy: Top 10 cities
Jesse Kinos-Goodin, Financial Post · Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010
When investing in real estate, sometimes it’s necessary to look beyond your own backyard. The Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a national organization of investors, has compiled what it says are the top 10 Canadian cities in which to invest. Few are major cities and some are surprising. Don Campbell, president of REIN, as well as one of the researchers on the study, says the results are based on factors such as planned transportation improvements, or if the area’s average income, population growth and job growth are increasing faster than the provincial average.
Oddly enough, nothing east of Ontario shows up on the list, and while Mr. Campbell says cities like Halifax, Saint John and Moncton “still provide decent returns,” the top cities are ones that will outperform the national average between 2010 and 2015.
Calgary is “poised to outperform the average by a wide margin,” says Mr. Campbell, making it the top-ranked city.
After two years of declining average resale housing prices, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has predicted they will increase year-over-year in 2010.
The REIN report credits the downturn to a much-needed correction, and that it was “economically impossible for the [Calgary] market to continue at the pace at which it was heading.” But now that it is coming out of the recession, along with economies elsewhere, Calgary’s strengths in producing food, fuel and fertilizer will boost its growth.
“Calgary is in a unique economic and geographic position to take advantage of the direct and indirect jobs this increase in demand will create,” says Mr. Campbell, who adds that with strong in-migration and renewed affordability, the city provides a good buying window for long-term investors.
2. Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Ont.
REIN refers to Canada’s Technology Triangle as the “economic Alberta of Ontario.” That means KWC is not only seen as the economic engine of the new Ontario economy, but also that it “will outperform all other major regions in eastern Canada,” Mr. Campbell says. For indicators, he points to job growth, student growth and a new light rapid-transit system.
Edmonton sits near the top of the report’s list because of its future potential. Calling it a “perennial overachieving market,” REIN says the city is a “growing market, [with] an increasing population, and a forward-looking leadership.”
It will also be the main benefactor of energy development in Western Canada, says Mr. Campbell, resulting in a “very affordable, strong rental market with strong in-migration from across Canada.” Major infrastructure improvements, such as the ring road and LRT expansion, will be key.
4. Surrey, B.C.
British Columbia’s second-largest city is growing so fast it could become even bigger than Vancouver.
“Just a decade ago, it was known as the punch line to many a joke,” Mr. Campbell says. But with two border crossings to the United States, links to five major highways, deep sea docks and four railways, Surrey is a prime location to do business, he says.
Although there may be a strong rental market, it’s a city that requires a closer examination, taking “neighbourhoods and even the street’s characteristics into consideration when deciding where to purchase,” REIN warns.
5. Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows, B.C.
The Translink and Gateway Project infrastructure improvements have made these B.C. towns the “most accessible regions in [Vancouver’s] Lower Mainland,” the report says. They’ve come a long way, Mr. Campbell says. The unofficial motto of Maple Ridge used to be “You can’t get there from here.” As a result of poor infrastructure in the past, property values have been historically low in this area. But with the improvements, it’s predicted an additional 400 business will move into the area, REIN says, improving the demand for both residential and commercial property.
6. Hamilton, Ont.
“The perception no longer matches the reality of Hamilton,” Mr. Campbell says. “The city’s leadership, as well as local business owners, have transformed what was once a rough-and-tumble steel town to a city with economic vitality, diversification and population growth.” REIN applauds Hamilton’s leadership as being innovative in revitalizing the city, adding Hamilton
“has beaten its overall building permit value for the second year in a row.”
7. St. Albert, Alta.
“Long thought of as a satellite of Edmonton, St. Albert is poised to be the biggest benefactor of the new Edmonton Ring Road,” says Mr. Campbell, who adds that as the transportation access improvement is completed, the city will begin to experience “a flood of not only new residents, but also the relocation of companies and jobs into town.” Other attributes of the city include consistently low vacancy rates, high rents and strong property value increases. It also helps that the city has “turned itself into a major retail centre for the northern region while adding to its industrial and commercial job base,” REIN says.
8. Barrie & Orillia, Ont.
These two cities have been shedding the perception of being just cottage country and have become a “hot bed for growth,” Mr. Campbell says. University and college expansion campuses have brought new life to the area, and the addition of Go Train access has made them viable commuter towns for the Greater Toronto Area, REIN says. For investors, this all adds up to healthy property appreciation, a respectable vacancy rate of 4.7% and the youngest residents on average in a given Census Metropolitan Area (CMA).
9. Red Deer, Alta.
In the centre of the Edmonton-Calgary corridor, Red Deer is not close to either. But REIN suggests reviewing city plans, as there will be a lot of hidden opportunities. “The whole central Alberta region has witnessed very strong population and job growth, as well as a real estate market that has continually outperformed most other regions of the country,” Mr. Campbell says. He adds that with a continually expanding industrial and commercial job base, Red Deer is in a good position to “take advantage of the inevitable growth in demand for food, fuel and fertilizer.”
Winnipeg is often left off the real estate investment radar, but Mr. Campbell says it’s a good city for “consistent economic performance — not too high during booms and not too low during downturns.” But people should stick to buying top-quality properties. REIN also notes that housing prices, after dipping last year, are back to double-digit increases, which could “lead to an influx of inventory on the market.” But with one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country, at 1.2%, there is room for movement. Another positive factor for the city is international immigration is expected to increase under the provincial nominee program being undertaken by the government.
Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/news/Where+cities/3369599/story.html#ixzz0w4mDdnyK
Gold vending machines
I found this very interesting:
Gold vending machines go global
by By Blake Ellis, staff reporter
As economic fears drive gold prices to new highs, the creator of a gold-dispensing ATM is attracting attention around the globe.
Germany-based GOLD to go, which is currently churning out 50 gold machines a month to meet a recent jump in demand, launched its first ATM in Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel earlier this month and opened its second in Germany last week.
The golden ATM’s next destinations are the Bergamo Airport in Milan, Italy, all major airports in Malaysia, one of Russia’s biggest banks and an undetermined location in Turkey.
By making gold investing as easy as buying a candy bar from a vending machine, GOLD to go hopes to attract average buyers to the gold market.
“We are going to make gold public with these machines,” said Thomas Geissler, CEO of Ex Oriente Lux AG, which owns GOLD to go. “The prices are so easy to control that we’re going to de-mystify gold and make it easier for anyone to buy it.”
GOLD to go’s ATM looks like a vending machine and dispenses gold coins and bars weighing up to one ounce at prices updated every 10 minutes based on the real-time spot price of gold.
ATM-owners can choose from a variety of other gold items, such as gold Canadian maple leaf coins, South African Krugerrands, and even some custom designs. For example, the special edition gold medallion it engraved with the Palace Hotel’s logo was created for the United Arab Emirate debut.
Earlier this month, gold prices hit an all time high of nearly $1,250 per ounce, and the precious metal has continued to climb as euro zone countries struggle with debt and investors worry that the region’s problems could spread globally.
Until this uncertainty in the market eases, the demand for gold will only grow, said Carlos Sanchez, a precious metals analyst at CPM Group.
“[The ATM] is just a reflection of the demand from consumers and investors for exposure to gold,” he said. “As long as prices continue to trend upward and investors remain concerned over economic and political conditions, I think we’ll keep seeing strong demand for safe-haven assets like gold.”
Not for serious investors? While the ATMs could be a hit with wealthy travelers, the idea is unlikely to catch on with serious investors, said Jeffrey Nichols, managing director at American Precious Metals Advisors.
“It’s an interesting phenomenon, and I can see that wealthy and high-net-worth travelers might make impulse splurges on gold bars or coins, but I can’t see a serious investor buying gold through a vending machine,” he said.
Jon Nadler, senior analyst at Kitco Metals, agreed, saying that he would be surprised if investors bought into the new invention, because unlike the spot market, ATMs don’t take your gold back when you want to sell it.
“Gold is a two-way market, so I would like to see that same machine buy back that gold and spit out cash,” said Nadler. “A gold-dispensing ATM is great, but a real ATM also accepts deposits.”
Nadler also said that GOLD to go’s higher prices may be a deterrent, especially to investors who want to purchase large amounts.
GOLD to go says that, like any physical gold vendor, it must apply a margin to its items. While the spot price for one ounce of gold was about $1,214 in midday trading on Thursday, GOLD to go was selling a 1-ounce gold bar for 1,044.86 euros, or approximately $1,284.13.
But the ATM’s popularity shows how much more available gold is becoming as demand picks up.
“It shows how attitudes toward gold are changing,” said Nichols. “Gold is available in more forms and through distributors that make it more accessible for average people around the world to buy gold.” http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/personal-finance/article/cnnmoney/gold-vending-machines-go-global-20100527