Calgary – #1 for Real Estate Investment

Once again, Calgary has been ranked as the top real estate investment market in the country followed by Edmonton by the Real Estate Investment Network Ltd.

In its Top Alberta Investment Towns report, REIN said that Alberta’s economy has come out on top after a few years of economic turbulence.

The report identifies towns and regions poised to outperform other regions of the province over the next three to five years.

And none is better than Calgary.

“After a couple of roller-coaster years, Calgary is back on a roll. The return of jobs to the city, as well as greatly reduced office vacancy rates show us that the city’s short slump has come to an end,” said the report. “Recording a GDP growth of three per cent in 2011, and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, it’s no wonder Calgary is sitting as one of the top places in North America for property investors. When you combine the economic fundamentals, the population growth, and a burgeoning provincial economy, it is easy to see why so many businesses and people have come to call the city home.

“The market is hot. With the pressure on the resale housing market, there is similar pressure on the rental market. Inventory has dropped for rental accommodations while monthly rents have increased. Real estate investors and real estate agents are reporting that rental listings are being pounced on. Savvy investors purchasing units and advertising them for rent upon close are receiving calls from anxious tenants wanting to see the unit before the investor has possession and/or has done any improvements to the property. Rental sites are reporting difficulty in compiling statistics become some communities have nothing for rent.”

REIN said housing affordability will begin to be an issue in Calgary, with rents increasing and a high average sale price. But when you look at that price versus average income it shows that other cities in Canada have a much larger problem on their hands.

“Calgary has the long-term economics to support long-term market strength while other cities do not,” said REIN.

The Top Alberta Investment Towns ranked in order are: Calgary, Edmonton, Airdrie, Red Deer, St. Albert, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Okotoks, Leduc, Sylvan Lake and Lacombe.

The report said Airdrie has been one of the fastest growing communities in the province.

“Its proximity to the economic engine of Calgary and the growth of the surrounding economy will push the physical and economic growth limits of the city in the next decade,” said REIN.

“With increasingly easy access to many areas of Calgary via the ring road as well as the growth of job centres in and around the city, Airdrie property owners should continue to feel upward pressure on both rents as well as home prices. As affordable housing becomes a growing problem in Calgary, Airdrie will benefit from lower average house prices. As the office centre of the west, Calgary may offer employment opportunities that Airdrie does not, but much of the labour force will turn to Airdrie as a place to call home.”

REIN’s top Canadian investment cities ranked in order are: Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, Airdrie, Kitchener and Cambridge, Red Deer, St. Albert, Waterloo, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Halifax.

According to a research note by Scotia Economics, Alberta remains a key economic engine for Canada, with the highest provincial real GDP growth rate forecast for 2012 and 2013 at 3.4 per cent and 3.0 per cent respectively.

“The economy is growing strongly with contributions from consumer spending, business investment, particularly in the oilsands, and exports, which is encouraging given the strong Canadian dollar and soft global demand,” it said. “Provincial government spending also will continue to support growth, albeit at a slower pace than over the decade prior to the recession.”

In the second quarter of 2012, Alberta had a year-over-year population growth rate of 2.5 per cnet, the highest in the country.

“At this juncture, the federal government’s recent tightening of mortgage and home equity financing standards appears to have had a limited impact on Alberta’s housing market,” said Scotia Economics. “It continues to be supported by strong employment growth, significant wage gains and ongoing resource development.”

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

NO Condo Bubble in Calgary nor Toronto!

These comments below are in addition to the report last week that said that because Toronto has:

  • lots of in-migration,

  • New to Canada migration and

  • no other kinds of homes being built in the inner city

they do need all of these new condos and it is not a bubble. Interesting.

Economists to condo investors: Smile!

Written by  Vernon Clement Jones

Condo investors in Toronto have every reason to be keep smiling, with two separate bank reports suggesting their assets are almost certain to retain their value at the same time their cash flow gets buoyed by rental demand.

“As CMHC… mentioned, capital return for investors who bought new condominiums and decided to rent them once the construction was complete, could earn superior returns than on other investment products,” reads Laurentian Banks’ July economic outlook. “Furthermore, condominiums rents are generally 40% more expensive than apartments of same dimensions in the Toronto CMA, the most important spread in the whole country.”

Smiling yet?

There’s more.

RBC is also weighing in on the future of Canada’s most controversial housing market, suggesting there’s no indication condos, despite what most see as a glut of inventory, are in a bubble.

Far from it.
“Based on market activity to date,” say economists for the heftiest of Canada’s big banks, “the total number of new housing units (condos) completed by builders has not exceeded the GTA’s demographic requirements and is unlikely to do so by any significant magnitude in the next few years.”

Phew!

That dual analysis effectively counters concerns that T.O.’s high-rise properties are primed to fall in value as renters find themselves spoiled for choice and investors are forced to slash prices. The naysayers are also worried that even new construction will be subjected to a major price correction and in the short-term, a phenomenon directly tied to mortgage rule changes making it harder to win financing.

That could, in fact, still happen, although not likely on the scale many analysts had predicted earlier this year, says Laurentian in its analysis.

Has the US housing market hit bottom?

This is a copy of the blog from Boris – the president of MERIX bank – a broker bank we love and deal with often. It is worth pasting all of it here AND it is good news!

Article written by on the 17 Jul 2012 in Current Events

US Housing Market Near End?I’m referring to the real estate market in the U.S.  There have been some signs that real estate market may have reached the point where you can actually see the bottom.  Interesting to note that new home construction is up in many regions of the U.S.  Drive through parts of Florida and you’ll be surprised by the number of new homes being built.  Another sign is the number of pending sales just recently reported.  On a year over year basis, pending sales were up 14.5% in the West, 22.1% in the Midwest, 19.8% in the Northeast and 11.9% in the south.  Another sign that real estate market is getting better is due to increased foreclosures.

As odd as that made sound, a real recovery of the real estate market in the U.S. will only happen when financial institutions finally deal with the backlog of foreclosures.  Recent reports indicate the U.S. financial institutions are taking action against more delinquent home owners.  Statistics indicated that foreclosure proceedings increased by 6% in the second quarter as compared to the precious year.  That’s the first increase since 2009.  How is that possible?  Simple, banks chose to do nothing.  If the borrower didn’t approach the bank and request a loan modification or approval of a short sale, the banks were free to act at their own pace.  I suspect their motivation to deal with these issues had nothing to do with any kind of empathy for the home owner.  It was more to do with flooding the market with more distressed properties which ultimately would drive the prices down even further.  The shadow inventory is a subject that all stakeholders wanted to set aside and deal with it  in a mushroom growing fashion.  Clearly something has changed, and the banks now feel that the market can absorb the additional foreclosures.  This could have further impact on home prices in the short term but many analysts are predicting the drop could be as little as 1%.  Here’s another stat I found to be both encouraging and staggering.  At of the end of the 2012 first quarter, approximately 11.4 million homes or 23.7% of all homes with a mortgage in the U.S. were under water, negative equity.  On a quarter over quarter comparison it was 12.1 million homes or 25.2%.

There’s no doubt that U.S. real estate market has a long way to go before anyone would suggest that it’s a “normal” market.  Until they (the politicians, Federal Reserve, regulators etc.,) deal with the real estate issue there will be no full economic recovery.  Put aside the markets and consumer spending because the real estate market is the 800 pound gorilla. The real unemployment rate in the U.S is just over 14%, the 8.2% reported unemployment rate is manipulated data and reported by Obama sycophants, and will not come down until there’s marked improvement in the real estate market.  As soon as that has happened, the better it is for us.  We love it when Americans are working because they love to spend, and we have stuff  we would love to sell them.  Recently, given the value of the Canadian dollar, we been purchasing more in the U.S., like their homes.  If you’re thinking of buying a second home in the U.S., this might be the bottom.

Until next time,

Cheers.

New Canadian Mortgage Rules are Possible

Below is a commentary on the possible new rules for Canadian mortgages. Anyone looking at buying with 5% down (which is about 80% of our clients) or using a 30 year amortization (75% of our clients) should look at buying sooner than later.

Comparing New Amortization & Down Payment Rules

Government mortgage restrictions instituted from 2008-2011 have not achieved their goal, suggests Desjardins’ Senior Economist Benoit Durocher.

He wrote this on Thursday: “…The third series of [government mortgage rules] was announced nearly a year ago now, and we must conclude that the tightening introduced to date has not
slowed the market enough.

Under these conditions, it is likely, and perhaps even desirable, that the federal government will shortly announce a fourth series of measures to further limit mortgage credit.”

It almost sounds like Durocher has some inside info.

He adds: “Among other things, the government could be tempted to once again raise the minimum down payment on new loans (it went from 0% to 5% in October 2008).”

Many believe a down payment increase would have a more chilling effect on home prices than the other option being talked about: a reduction in the maximum amortization from 30 to 25 years.

The difference in impact would depend, however, on the degree of rule changes.

For example, raising the minimum down payment from 5.0% to 7.5% (a possibility that’s been discussed) would require that entry-level homebuyers come up with $8,700 more on a typical Canadian home purchase. For most, that’s not totally out of reach.

A five percentage point increase to the minimum down payment is a somewhat different story. Requiring 10% down equates to $34,780 on an average home. That’s beyond the means of a sizable minority of first-time buyers.

First-time buyers are essential to home price stability. They account for 1/2 of unit demand according to Altus Group research. While the latest data suggests that average down payments are somewhere around 30% (an estimated $104,000), first-time buyers put down far less.

That means stricter down payment rules could potentially hurt home values at the margin, if other things are held equal.

In terms of amortization, a government-imposed reduction—from 30 to 25 years—would lower a typical family’s maximum purchase price by roughly 9%. (That’s based on today’s 5-year fixed rates, normal qualification guidelines, median incomes, and average consumer debt.)

To put this in perspective, a reduction in amortization from 30 to 25 years would cut a typical buyer’s maximum possible purchase price by ~$31,000 (again, based on an average income, average debt, a 5% down payment, etc.).

Fortunately, most people don’t need a 30-year amortization to buy a home. Despite 41% of homebuyers choosing extended amortizations, the majority could have qualified with a standard 25-year mortgage. (That said, this doesn’t mean that cutting amortizations across the board is justified. Well-qualified borrowers deserve a carve-out in the rules because they utilize extended amortizations for legitimate cash-flow management purposes. But that’s a topic for another day.)

Alberta leads North America in economic freedom: Fraser Institute report

This is great news for those of us in Alberta – we already knew we are booming. The rest of Canada is finding out as there were 26,000 new people added to Calgary this year. Almost the same as the boom in 2006. That means more people looking for homes or to rent and that demand will take up the housing slack.

Alberta leads North America in economic freedom: report

Alberta, U.S., oilsands, pressure
Alberta, U.S., oilsands, pressure

FILE – An oilsands mine facility seen from the air near Fort McMurray, Alta., Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CTVNews.ca Staff

Date: Tuesday Nov. 22, 2011 2:02 PM ET

Quebec and Ontario lag far behind their Western cousin Alberta and many U.S. states when it comes to economic freedom in North America, according to a new report.

While Alberta finished first of all Canadian provinces and U.S. states, Ontario finished fifth among the provinces and a dismal 49th when U.S. states were factored in.

Quebec finished eighth among the provinces — ahead of only Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — and a sluggish 58th overall in the analysis by the Fraser Institute titled Economic Freedom of North America 2011.

The report measures the economic freedom of 50 states and 10 provinces based on indicators such as size of government, taxation levels, and labour market freedom.

It found a direct connection between the states and provinces with the most economic freedom, and those where residents earned the most.

“The 12 Canadian and American jurisdictions with the highest levels of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $54,435 in 2009, compared to the 12 lowest-ranked jurisdictions in North America, where average per-capita GDP in 2009 was $40,229,” the report stated.

Following are the top five finishers:

  • 1. Alberta
  • 2. Delaware
  • 3. Texas
  • 4. Nevada
  • 5. Colorado

After Alberta, Saskatchewan was the second-highest Canadian finisher, but came in at only 32nd overall. Newfoundland and Labrador followed as the third-place overall Canadian finisher at 37th place.

B.C. came in 43rd overall, Ontario finished in 49th, and the bottom five spots on the entire list were dominated by the following Canadian provinces:

  • 56. Manitoba
  • 57. New Brunswick
  • 58. Quebec
  • 59. Nova Scotia
  • 60. P.E.I.

Improvements in Canada

But the news wasn’t all bad for Canada. On average, the report found that levels of economic freedom increased in Canada between 2000 and 2009.

And in Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan, levels of economic freedom rose significantly in that same period.

Though less dramatic, B.C. and Alberta have also shown signs of improvement, which has allowed them to surpass several U.S. states in the rankings.

“It’s no coincidence that the provinces showing increased levels of economic freedom are also the provinces whose economies have been the most vibrant and shown the most growth in recent years,” said Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute vice-president of international research and the co-author of the report, in a statement.

“A common theme among provinces with high levels of economic freedom is a commitment to low taxes, small government, and flexible labour markets. These conditions foster job creation and greater opportunities for economic growth.”

Conversely, he said, provinces with low levels of economic freedom result in lower standards of living and reduced opportunities for families.

The report states that Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have all shown declines in economic freedom between 2000 and 2009.

Particularly troubling, McMahon said, is the fact Canada’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have fared so poorly.

“If governments in these two provinces want to boost prosperity and improve the standard of living for their residents, they should look to the successful policies of provinces where economic freedom has increased,” McMahon said.

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Politics/20111122/alberta-economic-freedom-fraser-report-111122/#ixzz1eTQKo4fB

Calgary housing market poised to show strong price growth

More good news on the market outlook.

November 6, 2011. 8:33 pm

Pay attention. Something’s happening here,” says Don Campbell, president of the Real Estate Investment Network in Canada.

Campbell is paying attention to the all the reports coming out these days showing some positive economic news for Alberta and Calgary. Good economic growth. In-migration levels rising. And employment growth leading the way in Canada.

The real estate market lags the economy by about 18 months, he says.And the economy is in recovery. We’ve now seen the job growth and the population growth starting to affect the rental vacancy rates which have gone down, resulting in rents rising.

Campbell says that by the spring of 2013, and perhaps by the fall of 2012, there will be a real strong upward pressure on demand for resale homes in Calgary and surrounding areas.

He predicts there will also be a jump in listings at that time which will keep a little bit of a cap on the price increases. So will continued world economic turmoil.

But even with that Calgary should expect strong price growth in the value of resale properties.

“I think you’re going to see a nice steady eight to 10 per cent increase in 2013 in average sale price for Calgary (year-over-year),” says Campbell, one of the authors of the book Secrets of the Canadian Real Estate Cycle.

Canadians still looking towards Alberta for employment

Comment – all the in-migration is what caused the home prices to boom form 200k to 400k in 6 months in 2006 and 2007. This is all happening again right now – as noted below.

The outcome will not be prices going to 600k but well priced homes will move quickly and there will be upward price pressure until most of the excess inventory is moved.

Alberta continues to be a draw for people in other parts of the country.

And that’s good news because in recent months there has been more talk about looming labour shortages in the future.

According to Dan Sumner, economist with ATB Financial in Calgary, 4,720 Canadians relocated to Alberta during the second quarter of 2011, largely unchanged from the 5,275 that moved here during the first quarter. But Alberta is on pace for about 20,000 net-interprovincial migrants in 2011, which if achieved will be the highest annual pace for net interprovincial migration since 2006.

Sumner says the largest net migration gain in the second quarter was from Ontario. Alberta was by far the largest benefactor of net-interprovincial migration in the country with Saskatchewan in second place gaining only 1,239 net migrants.

“Interprovincial migration can be a difficult variable to predict; however, with the unemployment rate lower in Alberta, wages higher, housing prices relatively affordable and the provincial economy expected to grow among the fastest in the country, it’s hard to imagine that more Canadians won’t be calling Alberta home over the near future,” adds Sumner.

“While more skilled workers is essential for the continued development of Alberta’s economy, it also puts pressure on social and institutional resources. As a former premier of this province once stated, ‘when people move to Alberta, they don’t bring their schools and hospitals with them’.”

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.

PACE QUICKENING

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.

mhope@calgaryherald.com

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Alberta repeat home buyers moving on to larger homes

Alberta repeat home buyers moving on to larger homes

This article is EXACTLY what we have been hearing over the last 6 months.
CALGARY — Repeat home buyers in Alberta are moving on to larger or more luxurious homes, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The TD Canada Trust Repeat Home Buyers Report said Albertans are the most likely in the country to feel they compromised on the layout and features of their current home and are not willing to do so again in their next house hunt.

The report, which surveyed Canadians who recently bought or intend to buy a home that is not their first, found that 59 per cent of Alberta repeat buyers are moving on to larger or more luxurious homes. And even though many are upgrading, they are among the least likely to need a mortgage to finance the purchase (58 per cent versus 69 per cent nationally).

“If you are moving because you want more room or certain features in your home, a renovation could be an option to save the expense of moving by making your current home work for you,” said Jessy Bilodeau, Mobile Mortgage Specialists, TD Canada Trust.

The TD Canada Trust Repeat Home Buyers Report found that seven-in-10 Alberta repeat buyers were moving earlier than they expected (40 per cent) or had no intention of moving but now find themselves on the house-hunt again (30 per cent). The number of people intending to buy a home that is not their first in the next two years increased 21 percentage points over 2010 (84 per cent versus 63 per cent in 2010).

The large majority of Albertans (84 per cent) plan to sell their current home before buying a new one. More than one-in-five (22 per cent) say market conditions played a factor in their decision to buy another home and 69 per cent expect to sell their home at or above asking price, said the report.

“The reality is that it’s still a buyers’ market, and homes need to be priced correctly to sell,” said Bilodeau.

Albertans are more likely this year to say they are keeping their current home as a rental property (46 per cent versus 25 per cent last year) or that they will stay in their current home and the new home will be a rental property (41 per cent versus 25 per cent last year).

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Alberta renovation spending to lead country

This is great news for Calgary. It shows two things.

1. Due to the home price drops from the peak in 2007 many are choosing to renovate rather than move out of their “upside down” mortgages.

2. The Perfect Home Program allows you to include the cost of renovations in the mortgage when it is purchased. Call to discuss how this program work. It means that you can buy a home in the location YOU want and then make it YOUR Perfect Home with your own kitchen, floors, basement and all the rest.

Alberta renovation spending to lead country

1.7% growth in 2011, 4.9% in 2012.
Renovation spending in Alberta is forecast to lead the country in year-over-year growth this year and in 2012, according to a report by the Altus Group, an economic consulting firm.

The report said spending in Alberta on renovations hit $5.7 billion in 2010, which accounted for 9.5 per cent of all spending in the country. Total spending in the province was up 7.2 per cent from the previous year which was behind many other provinces for annual growth.

Canada saw 9.2 per cent growth in 2010 to $60.1 billion.

Altus Group forecasts spending to increase in Alberta by 1.7 per cent this year and by 4.9 per cent next year — both growth rates leading the nation.

For Canada, the report forecasts a 0.1 per cent decline this year followed by a 3.6 per cent hike in 2012.

“Canada’s general economic recovery continues, but at a modest pace,” said the report. “Job growth has been stronger through the recovery than after the last recession, but still suffers from weakness, particularly in terms of youth and full-time jobs. The cautiously optimistic forecast for economic growth translates into equal caution over the forecast for renovation demand.

“The good news for renovators is that weaker than expected economic growth has extended the period of very low interest rates, perhaps into 2012. Low interest rates are important for this sector both in terms of affordability for those who need to borrow to finance their renovations, as well as in keeping mortgage payments in check, thereby freeing up income for discretionary renovation spending.”

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald