Posts Tagged ‘Calgary’

A Rise in First Time Homebuyers in Alberta

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

A recent national survey sent out to prospective buyers in Alberta reports that over the next two years Alberta will see a rise in first time homebuyers. If this is any indication, Albertans remain confident in the marketing heading in to 2013 and the future.

Even more surprising is that 20% of the prospective buyers that plan to buy in the near future are single. Calgarians no matter the demographic, remain confident that the market will continue its recent success and housing values will continue to rise.

Calgary Best Performing Real Estate Market in Canada

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

CALGARY — Calgary was the only major Canadian market to see a year-over-year rise in MLS residential sales in December as the national market plunged and the city finished 2012 with the best annual sales growth in the country, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In releasing a report Tuesday, the association’s data indicated Calgary MLS sales in December of 1,343 were up 7.2 per cent from December 2011 while Canada saw a decline of 17.4 per cent to 20,538 sales.

The average sale price in Calgary in December rose by 6.9 per cent from last year to $419,811 while Canada’s average jumped by 1.6 per cent to $352,787.

On an annual basis, Calgary sales of 26,634 were up 18.6 per cent year-over-year while they fell by 1.1 per cent throughout the country to 453,372.

The average annual sale price in Calgary rose by 2.3 per cent to $412,315 in 2012. It was up by 0.3 per cent in Canada to $363,740.

“Calgary bucked the national trend in 2012 as the market began to come alive, while others began to enter a long sleep. This occurred because of two main influences,” said Don Campbell, senior analyst and founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network. “Over the previous three years, Calgary had not over-performed its underlying economic fundamentals like many other major markets across the country, especially Toronto and Vancouver. A lack of new housing being poured into the market also helped to keep the average sale price in check.

“Population growth in Alberta neared a record high in 2012 as many moved here to take advantage of the job growth. This expansion of the number of citizens who call Calgary home, whether temporarily or permanently, put upward pressure on the rental market in the city. This increase in (rents) pushed many into the purchase market and therefore began the upward demand on the home-purchase market. This trend will continue, and inevitably get stronger, in 2013.”

Calgary’s market is showing no signs of letting up in January. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, month-to-date from January 1-14, there have been 375 MLS sales in the city, up 9.97 per cent from the same period last year while the average sale price has jumped by 11.75 per cent to $428,063.

In December, sales in Alberta fell by 1.9 per cent to 2,855 transactions and the average sale price went up by 4.8 per cent to $363,340. Over the year, sales in Alberta in 2012 rose by 12.3 per cent, the highest of any province, and the average sale price increased by 2.8 per cent to $363,208.

CREA’s Home Price Index in December, of seven major Canadian markets, saw the average benchmark price increase by 3.32 per cent in Canada. Regina led the country with 10.53 per cent growth followed by Calgary at 7.37 per cent.

“Similar to what we saw in September, December sales had fewer business days compared to the same month last year and most other years,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, about the national picture. “It factored into December’s year-over-year decline in sales activity.”

But he also said that “successive rounds of tightening mortgage regulations have kept the housing market in check during what has become an extended low interest rate environment.”

Sonya Gulati, senior economist with TD Economics, described 2012 as a lacklustre year for the Canadian housing market.

“With the whopping 17.4 per cent year-over-year change in sales seen in December, we suspect that the impacts from the mortgage rule tightening in July are now fully priced in,” she said. “We expect the Canadian housing market to stabilize at current levels over the next few months. When looking at previous mortgage rule tightening episodes, the housing market impacts have been temporary in nature. There is no reason to think that this time will be any different.”

Benjamin Reitzes, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, said the Canadian housing market continues to cool.

“While some will focus on the deep dive in sales from a year ago, it looks as though prices are providing a better read on the health of the sector, as homeowners are in no rush sell,” he said. “Prices are easing gently, consistent with a soft landing through much of the country.”

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© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary Home Sales and Prices Spike Higher in 2012

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Calgary’s real estate market has been very active this year.



CALGARY — Rising population numbers drove Calgary housing sales higher and brought average prices within a hair of the record set in 2007, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board.

On Wednesday it announced that 15 per cent more residential real estate sales were completed in the city of Calgary in 2012 than in 2011 and that average prices were up five per cent.

“Calgary’s housing market has finally started to recover,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist, in a news release. “While prices remain shy of the highs recorded in 2007, this is a move in the right direction.”

There were 21,207 residential property sales in 2012, up from 18,496 in 2011.

The news comes as ATB Financial economist Will van’t Veld reported that Alberta likely welcomed more new Albertans in 2012 than in its boom years a decade ago.

“This isn’t surprising, as the labour market here has been the best in the country and housing costs are relatively affordable,” he wrote in a report.

“The stage is set for the trend to continue in 2013 and beyond.”

Through the first three quarters of 2012, almost 56,000 more individuals came to Alberta than left the province, ATB noted, adding that’s 6,000 more than in 2006, the year Alberta saw its largest in-migration, and 16,000 more than in 2005, the second highest in-migration year.

“The last time Alberta welcomed so many newcomers there wasn’t enough housing to shelter everyone and that sparked the housing boom,” said van’t Veld in a report.

“In the early 2000s, housing starts in Alberta weren’t strong and there was little surplus inventory, so the mid-decade influx of migrants put pressure on existing housing stock. The jump in real estate prices caused a building boom, which is why there is no major shortage today.”

Lurie attributed the recent growth in Calgary’s real estate sales to the energy sector.

“There is no question employment and migration growth has supported housing demand, a trend that is expected to continue this year, albeit at a slower pace,” she said.

CREB figures show that single-family sales rose by 15 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011 but new listings fell by seven per cent, significantly reducing the inventory and pushing prices higher.

“Consumers in the market were looking for value, and, if a home was priced right based on a longer term view of their housing needs, they were buying,” said CREB president Bob Jablonski.

The unadjusted average price of a single-family house in Calgary was $497,000 for the month of December, nine per cent higher than $455,000 in the same month of 2011.

For the year, average single-family prices were up three per cent to $481,000.

CREB said its “benchmark” or typical single family house sold for $434,800 in 2012, two per cent below peak pricing in 2007.

Sales in the apartment and townhouse sector recorded annual increases of 12 and 16 per cent, respectively, while listings declined in both sectors

Condominium apartment average prices totalled 304,000 in December, a 13 per cent increase over December 2011 but CREB cautioned that there were several multimillion-dollar condominium sales in 2012 that skewed figures higher.

Townhouses posted an average price of $306,000 in December, up 4.5 per cent from $293,000 a year earlier.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary Apartment Vacancy Rate Decreases in 2012

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

CALGARY — The apartment vacancy rate in the Calgary region averaged 1.3 per cent in October, down from 1.9 per cent last year, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s Fall Rental Market Survey released Thursday.

“Employment growth and higher incomes, supported by Calgary’s expanding economy, continued to attract migrants and increased demand for rental units,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for the CMHC.

The apartment crunch will likely continue as the CMHC is forecasting 20,000 net migrants to the Calgary area in 2012 after 11,200 net migrants in 2011.

“Alberta is once again seeing some very strong interprovincial migration these days and many of these people are arriving in Calgary,” said Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial. “Typically before looking at buying a home, the recently-arrived will rent an apartment. That’s where a lot of the strong demand is coming from, and it’s pushing down the vacancy rate in the rental market.”

Recently, Sam Kolias, chairman and chief executive of Calgary-based Boardwalk Real Estate Investment Trust, told the Herald that the local rental market continues to see high demand as people keep moving to the province.

In the REIT’s third quarter, which ended September 30, it has 5,310 rental units in Calgary and the occupancy rate was 99.34 per cent, up from 98.89 per cent last year.

The apartment vacancy rate in most zones in Calgary declined from the previous year, said the CMHC report. Areas close to the downtown where there is a high concentration of employers continued to have among the lowest vacancy rates in the city, said the CMHC.

The vacancy rate in the Downtown zone reached 0.5 per cent in October, down from 1.0 per cent in October 2011.


The strong demand for rental accommodations combined with lower vacancies has led to an increase in rental rates in Calgary. Same-sample rents increased 6.1 per cent in October, following a 1.8 per cent rise in the previous year. Bachelor units and two-bedroom units recorded an increase of 7.4 per cent and 5.9 per cent, respectively. The average same-sample rent for three-bedroom units increased 4.2 per cent from a year earlier, said the agency.

Overall, the two-bedroom rent in Calgary averaged $1,152 in October, up from $1,087 last year. The Downtown and Beltline had among the highest average two-bedroom rents in the Calgary CMA at $1,240 and $1,222, respectively. The Southeast and Other Centres recorded the lowest two-bedroom rents in October, averaging $998 and $1,005, respectively.

Vacancies for rental condominium apartments declined to 2.1 per cent in October, down from 5.7 per cent in October 2011. The condominium rent in CMHC’s 2012 survey averaged $1,288 per month, down from $1,378 last year.

“Condominium apartment rents are typically higher compared to units in the purpose-built rental market as the buildings are generally newer and may include additional amenities such as a fitness centre, entertainment room, and heated underground parking,” said Cho.

Don Campbell, president of the Real Estate Investment Network in Canada, said the low vacancy rate wil lead to two things.

“Strong upward pressure on rents across the board, at all levels. Upward pressure on resale housing market first in 2013, then new home sales in 2014,” he said. “Look for the market to perform well in 2013 with values going up more quickly than 2012.”

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Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

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Housing affordability in Alberta improves, bucks national trend

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Construction of new homes in Auburn Bay S.W.on Monday, January 11.


Construction of new homes in Auburn Bay S.W.on Monday, January 11.

Photograph by: Archive, Calgary Herald

CALGARY – Housing affordability improved in Alberta in the fourth
quarter of last year amid slower economic recovery, compared with other
regions across the country, according to the latest housing report
released today by RBC Economics.

“The downturn in the housing market has created a large surplus of
homes available for sale. This has held back the pace of price
increases in the province since the market rebound took effect,” said
Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC. “This subdued pace has kept
Alberta’s affordability in check.”

The RBC Affordability measures for Alberta, which capture the
proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of
owning a home, declined across all housing types in the fourth quarter
of 2009. The measure for the detached bungalow benchmark moved down to
33.7 per cent (a drop of 0.4 percentage points over the previous
quarter), the standard townhouse to 25.8 per cent (down 0.4 percentage
points), the standard condominium to 22.5 per cent (down 0.1 percentage
point) and the standard two-story home to 37.9 per cent (down 0.2
percentage points).

The Calgary housing market continues to be attractive with
affordability measures at or below long-term averages, said RBC. The
strong rebound in resale activity slowed last summer and has reversed
since the fall. However, the tight availability of homes for sale in
Calgary has continued to provide a slight advantage to sellers, moving
housing prices in a slight upward trend, said the report.

“With the exception of townhouses, price gains in the Calgary market
have still been relatively modest and below the highs seen in 2007,”
added Hogue.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Avalon unveils first Net-Zero home

Monday, March 1st, 2010

At first glance, it looks like any other new home.

Avalon Master Builders’ Discovery 4 House is a quaint two-storey with cedar shakes and stone detailing, an eye-catching crimson door, grey siding and a spacious front deck.

But upon closer inspection, there are other, more unexpected details as well — solar panels on the roof, solar thermal panels framing the windows and a solar thermal balustrade offer just a hint of what this forward-thinking home is all about.

“The Discovery 4 House is the culmination of years of work towards meeting our vision of building Net-Zero homes at no additional cost to consumers by 2015,” says Ryan Scott, Avalon’s CEO.

“This was a really interesting challenge, but once you look around, you’ll see it’s come together really, really well.”

The home — which is currently located on the SAIT campus, but will move to its permanent home in McKenzie Towne this spring — offers not just new technology, but old favourites as well.

The front foyer looks to a sunny dining room at right, where honey-hued maple hardwood comes with a history.

Reclaimed from a school gym in Canmore, the flooring is not only attractive, but eco-friendly.

At the back of the home, an L-shaped kitchen is outfitted with espresso-hued, shaker style cabinetry, along with a central island and corner pantry.

A spacious dining nook, private back entry and convenient laundr y room and half-bath complete the thoughtfully-planned main floor — however, there’s more to this space than meets the eye.

“What you don’t see is the structural insulated panel walls, which give you a much more consistent building envelope,” Scott says.

“It also gives you more than double the insulative properties for the same thickness. We also have triple-pane, low-E, argon-filled windows and LED lights, which are very efficient.”

The same standards apply upstairs, he adds, where environmentally friendly carpeting is plush underfoot, and where two secondary bedrooms, a generous full bath and a welcoming master bedroom await.

With its cosy, attic-inspired feel and a sunny, spacious ensuite, the master bedroom is an inviting space to relax much like the rest of the home.

“The house feels comfortable, like a normal house,” Scott says.

“It’s simple to operate and comfortable to live in.”

And even better, the Net-Zero home creates all the energy it consumes on an annual basis through its innovative use of photovoltaic energy, solar thermal energy and eco-friendly technologies.

But even with the space-age sounding extras, Ald. Bob Hawkesworth says the home is perfectly livable, and serves as a reminder to home buyers of just what’s possible in modern home design.

“One home may seem like a small step, but when you think about it, that’s how real change happens — with one small step,” he says.

“I see not just Calgary’s first Net-Zero home, I see the future it represents.”

FAST FACTS BUILDER: Avalon Master Builder AREA: Currently at SAIT, moving to McKenzie Towne this spring. PRICE: $550,000 including lot, landscaping and double-car garage. DIRECTIONS: Take 16 Ave. to 12 St. N.W. Turn into SAIT campus. Turn right at traffic circle and follow to Discovery 4 House. HOURS: Monday to Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m., weekends and holidays, noon to 5 p.m. CONTACT: For information, visit

Calgary to face ‘very active’ spring housing market as economy improves

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

CALGARY – Calgary will experience a “very active” spring housing market as an improved economic outlook combined with record low interest rates and affordable housing are “fuelling recovery” in residential real estate sales, says a report released today by Re/Max.

“The supply of detached homes is beginning to tighten, with multiple offers becoming more prevalent in hot pockets throughout the city, particularly well-priced, entry-level product,” said the Re/Max Market Trends Report 2010.

“First-time buyers continue to drive the market, looking to take advantage of greater affordability before the window of opportunity closes.”

The report said that while the average price is still off peak 2007 levels it continues its ascent rising seven per cent in the single-family category to $441,217 and four per cent in the condo category to $282,639 over January 2009 levels.

“There has been a notable push by purchasers to get in before predicted interest rate hikes and tighter lending criteria,” said the report. “To that end, buyers are being more cautious in their pursuits, deliberately choosing not to max out debt service ratios, with a trend towards more modest pursuits that can be afforded. The market is picking up at all levels, with move-up buyers increasingly active.”

The Re/Max report, which looked at 16 markets across the country, noticed a sharp decline in active listings. A lack of inventory will be the greatest challenge facing housing markets across Canada this spring, it said.

That, combined with the threat of higher interest rates, tighter lending criteria, and in British Columbia and Ontario the introduction of the new Harmonized Sales Tax, have clearly served to kick-start real estate activity “prompting an unprecedented influx of purchasers.”

“Affordability is the catalyst for the vast majority of purchasers in today’s housing market,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice president for Re/Max of Western Canada. “While homeownership is still within reach in many major centres, levels are slipping. There is a growing sense, on both sides of the fence, that the time to act is now.”

Ash said the real estate market has experienced a 180-degree turnaround from this time last year.

“It’s clear that real estate from coast to coast has roared back to life and markets are once again firing on all cylinders,” said Ash. “The vast majority of markets are now recovered.”

Calgary’s economy to rebound, lead Canada in 2011

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

CALGARY – Calgary’s economy will rebound nicely this year and go on to lead the country starting in 2011, the Conference Board of Canada said Wednesday.

In its annual outlook for the cities, the board forecast Calgary’s economy will grow three per cent this year. That comes after a 2.3 per cent decline in 2009, the first drop in two decades.

“Fortunately, the initial stages of an economic recovery are starting to take hold,” the board said in its winter outlook.

“Both housing demand and prices are on the rebound, whil overall consumer confidence is gaining some upward momentum.”

Retail sales are expected to jump 4.2 per cent this year, the forecast said.

In 2010, Calgary’s economic growth will put it in the middle of the pack at 10th place. Vancouver is expected to lead the group at 4.5 per cent, boosted by the Olympic Games that begin next month.

A full recovery in the oilpatch should help propel Calgary’s economic growth to 4.4 per cent in 2010, the strongest among the provinces, the report noted.

Why Jim Flaherty’s mortgage rules won’t hurt homebuyers

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

This won’t hurt a bit, homebuyers.

The mortgage rule changes announced Tuesday by Financial Minister Jim Flaherty will weigh a bit on real estate speculators and heavily indebted people who want to fold their high-rate credit card debt into a lower-rate mortgage. But for rank and file homebuyers, the changes will barely be perceptible when they take effect on April 19.

“This should have a limited impact on what I see daily,” mortgage broker Peter Majthenyi said in an e-mail he fired off after Mr. Flaherty’s announcement. “I believe it’s more a message that ‘Big Brother’ is watching and cares.”

Olympics aside, the favourite Canadian diversion of the moment is to debate whether there is a bubble in the housing market. Those most worried about the housing market plunging have urged Mr. Flaherty to raise the minimum down payment for a home and reduce the maximum payback period.

But the 35-year amortization, favourite of first-time buyers across this land, remains. So does the 5-per-cent down payment, which is heavily relied upon in high-cost cities like Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

All the measures announced by Mr. Flaherty affect mortgages covered by government-backed mortgage insurance, where the buyer puts less than 20 per cent down. The key change for typical home buyers is that, regardless of what term or type of mortgage they choose, they’ll have to be able to afford the five-year rate.

This is a sensible way of building some slack into the system as we look ahead to a cycle of rising interest rates. If someone chooses a variable-rate mortgage, where the interest rate can be as low as 2 to 2.25 per cent today, they’ll have to be able to handle the payment at the current five-year rate. Right now, the posted rate at the big banks is 5.39 per cent.

You won’t have to actually make the higher payments required by the five-year mortgage. You’ll just have to theoretically be able to carry them and still remain within the limitations lenders set out on how much of your gross income can be consumed by debt (it’s 42 to 44 per cent, just so you know).

Mortgage brokers report that a lot of lenders were already ensuring clients could afford the payments on a three-year mortgage. So bumping up that up to a five-year term will only have a marginal effect.

“Are we going to see the odd borrower have to come up with more money or not buy they house they want? Absolutely,” Mr. Majthenyi said. “But will it have a dramatic effect? No.”

Another reason why the changes won’t be jarring is that a huge number of homebuyers are actually choosing five-year mortgages these days. A study issued by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals last month showed that fixed-rate mortgages accounted for 86 per cent of mortgages in set up in 2009 and, of those, 70 per cent were for a five-year term.

People who borrow to buy investment properties to either flip for a quick profit or to generate income are also affected by Tuesday’s announcement. If you buy a property you’re not going to live in, then you’ll have to put down a minimum 20 per cent to qualify for mortgage insurance. That’s up from 5 per cent.

But Mr. Majthenyi said not all lenders even require clients to have mortgage insurance if they put 20 per cent down. He also said that stiff mortgage insurance premiums already discouraged people from putting 5 per cent down on an investment property.

“In my office of 10 brokers, I don’t think I know of one client we’ve processed on a high-ratio rental property,” he said.

The final mortgage change restricts the ability of existing homeowners to refinance their mortgages to take on more debt. The new ceiling is 90 per cent of the value of your home, compared to the current 95 per cent.

Mortgage broker Jas Grewal said one group that will be affected by this is recent buyers who made a small down payment and are struggling with high credit card balances and other debts. By folding these debts into their mortgage, they can reduce their interest rate from as high as 19 per cent down to something closer to 3 or 4 per cent.

“Let’s say you put 10 per cent down – if we go from 95 to 90 per cent, you’re not going to be able refinance,” Mr. Grewal said. “You’re going to have to wait until your house value goes up and gives you some equity.”

Rob Carrick

Ottawa Globe and Mail

Update Published on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 12:42PM EST

Last updated on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 4:46PM EST

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Calgary Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.