Thursday, June 30, 2011


Calgary MLS sales top year-ago levels

First time since April 2010
By Mario Toneguzzi 
June 30, 2011

CALGARY — For the first month since April 2010, MLS sales in both the single-family and condominium markets in Calgary will show year-over-year increases in June.

According to preliminary data by realtor Mike Fotiou, of First Place Realty, from June 1 to June 28, there were 1,267 single-family MLS transactions in the city and 531 condo sales, topping the entire month of June 2010 sales for each category.

A year ago this month, there were 1,061 single-family home sales and 445 condo sales.

Christina Hagerty, a realtor with RE/MAX Realty Professionals, said the industry started feeling a resurgence in the real estate market in the last quarter of 2010.

“Unlike many other parts of the world, Canada, and in particular, Alberta is a safe and stable place to call home,” she said, adding demands in the oil and gas industry will lead to more people coming here for work.

“The inner city is usually the last to feel any downturn and the first to recover. Now, more than we’ve felt in a while, people are moving. Expats from the U.K., U.S. and other areas across the country ... are coming here.”

So far in June, the average MLS sale price for a single-family home is $476,413, down slightly from June 2010’s average of $481,964, according to Fotiou’s preliminary, unofficial data. The condo average sale price this month was $297,984, up from $292,238 a year ago.

Hagerty said phones are busier today. Builders are confident to start building homes again. And conditionally sold and sold stickers “dot the streets.”

Photo By: Cuppojoe

Monday, June 13, 2011


Resale Flexes Muscles
By Marty Hope
Calgary Herald June 11, 2011

May was a relatively strong month for resale residential activity in smaller centres surrounding the city, says the Calgary Real Estate Board.

There were 395 sales in May, an increase of nearly 17 per cent from the 338 for the same month last year, it says.

But from January to Mary, 2,386 homes changed hands, down from the 2,676 deals for the same period in 2010.

In terms of average price, both the May and the five-month averages trail year-ago figures.

Last month, the average was $343,071, down from $363,231 a year ago -while the five-month figures are $348,840 and $358,879 respectively, says the board.


Calgary considers expanding downtown LRT free-fare zone
By Richard Cuthbertson
Calgary Herald June 13, 2011

CALGARY — Extending the LRT free-fare zone to the Stampede station could create security headaches at the platform, and may encourage commuters to park in the area and then cram onto busy trains travelling into downtown at peak hours.

This is according to a report heading to a city committee on Wednesday that looks at the advantages, and the drawbacks, of broadening the section of the LRT network where people can ride without a ticket.

The report also confirms Calgary Transit will lose up to $2 million a year in revenue if the free zone, which currently stretches along 7th Avenue, grows to include the Victoria Park/Stampede station.

But the proposal still has merit for the organizer of a major expo this coming weekend, who suggests some middle ground can be found in the whole debate.

“Ultimately, what does every special event, what does every convention need? They need people,” said Kandrix Foong, the organizer of the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, to be held at the Stampede’s BMO Centre.

“If you add a couple extra elements to your show that can tilt the favour of whether they’re going to come out to your show or not, then obviously it’s worth it.”

He suggests something be worked out where people attending conventions at the Stampede grounds could to ride the LRT for free.

The report looks at a proposal spearheaded earlier year by three aldermen to create a “seamless event package” by connecting Stampede Park with the Telus Convention Centre through public transit.

The proponents on council said in their motion the change would lead to economic spinoffs by attracting bigger events and raising the appeal of Calgary as a host of conventions and conferences.

The problem, according to the report, is it is difficult to quantify how economic benefits of major events relate to transportation.

Meanwhile, the financial hit to Calgary Transit of extending the zone is pays for between 40,000 and 50,000 transit hours.

The report also suggests extending the free-fare zone would bring questionable characters to the Stampede platform, and transit security would have to be adjusted.

“These individuals can cause disruptions and make other customers uncomfortable,” the report says.

“Extending the free-fare zone would provide a greater range for these individuals to operate.”

Making it free will also encourage more people to park in area and then take the train into the downtown for work, creating “operational issues,” according to the report.

That will lead to complaints of bad service when people at the Stampede platform can’t get on the LRT because the trains are full heading into downtown, the report says.

Ald. Druh Farrell said extending the free-fare zone is a bad idea, adding the current zone along 7th Avenue has become a hub for vagrancy.

“To extend that outside the free-fare zone would be problematic,” Farrell said.

“It would just extend the problems outside of the downtown and make it very difficult for the police to monitor.”

Farrell said she also worries that if the free-fare zone is extended outside of downtown, those affected communities will turn into park and ride lots.

If the city wants to boost tourism, it could introduce a multi-pass giving admission to various sites in Calgary, with public transit included, Farrell said.


Recreational property markets bouncing back: Re/Max
John Morrissy
Jun 13, 2011

OTTAWA — Canada’s recreational property market appears to be bouncing back from a recessionary lull as buyers seek to capitalize on equity and stock-market gains, Re/Max says in a report Monday.

Demand rose 78% in the 46 markets across the country covered by the realtor’s Recreational Property Report, while sales had risen or were on par in 41% of those centres.

“Buyers who held off during the recession are back in recreational property markets from coast-to-coast,” says Pamela Alexander, chief executive of Re/Max for Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Their patience has been rewarded with more affordable recreational values and greater inventory levels.”

While prices have remained stable in many markets, values could be found for higher-end properties, pushing luxury sales higher in almost half of the markets examined, Re/Max said in its report.

Opportunities were also to be found in Western Canada.

“Prices are down as much as 20% from peak levels reported in 2006-2007, bringing ownership within reach to many potential purchasers,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president of Re/Max in Western Canada.

On British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island, for example, starting prices for oceanfront properties have fallen to $669,000 today from $1.3-million in 2008.

In the North Okanagan Valley, a three-bedroom, winterized recreational property on a standard-sized waterfront lot — the common measures used in Re/Max’s report — that sold for $1.5-million in 2008 now sells for $995,000.

Starting prices for similar properties on Alberta’s Sylvan Lake are now at $800,000 from $1.25-million previously and in the Rocky Mountain resort town of Canmore, a two-bedroom condo has fallen to $229,000 from $320,000.

“The strengthening oil sector has . . . brought Albertans back into mix, driving demand for both local and coastal B.C. properties,” Ash said.

Another factor influencing the recreational property market has been that Americans who bought when the Canadian dollar was at 65 U.S. cents are now cashing out, boosting inventories.

The report found that there has been some tightening for entry-level properties in about one-third of the markets covered. As well, it noted, the supply of properties has tightened considerably at the lower end in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

It also noted that recreational properties are moving more toward year-round homes, with fewer traditional cottages available for sale.

“These waterfront properties are disappearing from the landscape. Meanwhile, today’s average recreational getaways are truly earning the distinction as the “home away from home,” with many of the bells, whistles and comforts of their residential counterparts.

Photos: The Shores In Tofino
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Cities with the most billionaires – 2011

May 30, 2011

When the U.S. economy was riding high for most of the 20th century, it would have been impossible to imagine a foreign city--especially one in a Communist country--with more of the planet's very richest than New York, home of old-money Wall Street. But that indeed is the case. Today Moscow is the city with the most billionaire residents in the world.

The Russian capital boasts 79 billionaires, a stunning increase of 21 in just one year. That more than edges out No. 2 New York, with 59 billionaires, and No. 3 London with 41. Other cities in the top 15 include such rising stars as Mumbai, Taipei, Sao Paolo and Istanbul. Los Angeles manages a tie for No. 8.

The combined fortunes of Moscow's billionaire population top $375 billion, more privately amassed wealth than in any other city in the world.

Despite New York's relegation to second place, the city remains a favored locale of billionaires, whose collective net worth is $221 billion. The Big Apple boasts some of the most expensive ZIP codes in the U.S., due in part to the real estate prices paid by billionaires in this city. Indeed, many Moscow residents own secondary homes in New York, including fertilizer and coal magnate Andrey Melnichenko, whose wife recently closed on a $12.2 million penthouse apartment. Even the world's richest man, Carlos Slim (home: Mexico City), snatched up a $44 million mansion on Central Park last year.

To compile our list, we tallied the primary residences of all 1,210 billionaires on the 2011 Forbes World's Billionaires list, our annual assessment of people sporting seven-figure or higher fortunes in U.S. dollars. We did not take secondary homes into account for this list.

In the U.S. we stuck strictly to city limits. For example, while a smattering of prominent media barons like Viacom founder Sumner Redstone and T.V. tycoon Haim Saban reside in Beverly Hills, they are not included in the pile of Los Angeles residents since Beverly Hills is its own city (although largely surrounded by Los Angeles).

Here are the the world's five top cities for billionaires:

Istanbul, Turkey scores No. 5.
No. 5: Istanbul
Number of Billionaires: 36
Total combined wealth: $60.5 billion

Billionaires include: Turkey's richest person, Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, chairman of mobile phone company Turkcell; Turkey's former richest, finance and retail scion, Husnu Ozyegin; and Macedonian-born Sarik Tara, founder of construction giant, ENKA.

Hong Kong scores No. 4.
No. 4: Hong Kong
Number of Billionaires: 40
Total combined wealth: $176.8 billion

Billionaires include: Greater China's richest person, Hutchison Whampoa chairman Li Ka-shing; the Kwok family, the brothers behind Hong Kong's largest real estate developer, SHKP; and Angela Leong, the controversial heiress of Stanley Ho's casino empire.

London scores No. 3.
No. 3: London
Number of Billionaires: 41
Total combined wealth: $164.3 billion

Billionaires include: Indian citizen Lakshmi Mittal, the world's sixth-richest man thanks to steel-maker ArcelorMittal; daredevil Virgin founder Richard Branson; and Philip & Christina Green, the married couple behind clothing company Topshop.

New York City scores No. 2.
No. 2: New York
Number of Billionaires: 59
Total combined wealth: $220.8 billion

Billionaires include: media mogul and current mayor Michael Bloomberg; fashion designer Ralph Lauren; and real estate developer-turned-reality T.V. celebrity Donald Trump.

Moscow scores No. 1.
No. 1: Moscow
Number of Billionaires: 79
Total combined wealth: $375.3 billion

Billionaires include: Russia's richest man, steel magnate Vladmimir Lisin; commodities investor and Chelsea soccer team owner Roman Abramovich; and venture capitalist and Facebook investor Yuri Milner.