Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Calgary sees more home resales as average price drops
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald  November 30, 2011

Calgary's resale housing sales grew in October, but the average price dipped, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

In a report published Tuesday, the board said the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of sales in Calgary was 22,572 during the month, up from 22,344 in September and an increase from 19,524 in October 2010.

But the average price fell in October to $402,561 from $408,466 in September. A year ago it was $396,041.

As for new listings, the annualized rate in October decreased to 43,656 from 44,664 the previous month, but up from 42,960 in October 2010.

In October, the sales-to-new listings ratio in Calgary was 0.512. It was 0.471 in September and 0.455 a year ago. The conference board said Calgary can expect short-term year-over-year annual price growth of between five and seven per cent.

According to the latest Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. market outlook report, MLS sales in the Calgary region are forecast to increase by 2.3 per cent in 2012 to 22,700, while new listings are expected to decrease by 1.1. per cent to 43,700. The average MLS sales price is forecast to jump by 2.2 per cent in 2012 to $411,000 in the Calgary census metropolitan area.

The CMHC housing market outlook says despite many positive factors for real estate, "competing factors such as uncertainty in the global economy has kept some prospective buyers on the fence and will continue to temper any large increases in sales."

Photo By: Where To Willie

Friday, November 25, 2011


GTA condo sales this year smash record
Garry Marr
Financial Post Nov 22, 2011

Condominium sales are taking over the Greater Toronto Area new housing market and some parts of the country are following closely behind as rising costs push consumers into vertical housing, a new report suggests.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association said there were 23,747 condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area through the first 10 months of the year, smashing the previous high of 22,316 in 2007 — with two months yet to go.

High-rise sales accounted for approximately 61% of all sales in GTA from January-October. At this point last year high-rise sales only accounted for 57% of the overall market.

“It’s very much becoming a condo market,” said Joe Vaccaro, acting president of BILD. “Ten years ago the split was 25% high-rise versus 75% low-rise.”

The trend appears contained not just to Toronto’s urban core but is now moving to the suburbs. “There seems to be a new trend setting in over the last couple of months with the 905 [suburban] areas outperforming Toronto when it comes to [condo] sales,” said Mr. Vaccaro.

Suburban land costs have skyrocketed because of what the industry refers to as regulatory inertia with no new land developments approved in the suburbs over the last five years. It has led to the hoarding of land and rising prices for single detached homes.

A report Tuesday from Altus Group suggests the GTA will not see any sort of slowdown in new condo construction in 2012.

“New condominium apartment sales in Toronto and Ottawa continue to hum along, which will continue to buoy apartment starts in Ontario through 2012,” said Altus.

Peter Norman, chief economist for the Altus Group, says population growth has supported the Toronto condominium market. “That number of people generates a fair amount of housing demand no matter what is happening,” says Mr. Norman. “Add in the interest rate environment, and them not going up, and that adds to it. There has been a restriction on [new] lots and a lot of people have been shoved into apartments.”

The group looked at 10 real estate markets across the country and found only Alberta is set to rise in 2012. Regina, along with Toronto, is forecast for flat sales.

“Calgary and Edmonton employment growth in 2011 has more than made up for 2010’s declines,” says Altus. “Although employment growth will be more moderate in 2012, the strong showing this year is favourable for stronger housing starts in 2012.”

Altus is forecasting apartment starts to jump to 5,475 in 2012, up from 3,975 in 2011. Single family construction is also forecast to jump to 22,325 in 2012 from 20,906, putting high-rise construction at almost 20% of the Alberta market.

Phil Soper, chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Inc., says his company has noticed the trend in top condominium apartments in its corporate owned franchises in Toronto and Vancouver. “There is the cost of the commute, the hard costs like gas and insurance but then there is the soft costs in time,” he said, noting consumers look for housing that is closer to subways and urban cores.

If anything, he says Canadian cities, including Toronto, are playing catchup when it comes to high-rise construction. “Look at big established mature cities like New York. They have much more vertical living per resident than we do, they just don’t have as much on per capita basis that is new,” says Mr. Soper. “We have hundred of thousands of new Canadians that have to be accommodated in Toronto.”

Photo By: Surrealplaces

Wednesday, November 23, 2011



November 25, 2011 - January 7, 2012
(Excluding Christmas Day and December 31)

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM nightly
Gates close at 8:30 PM
North Gate entrance ONLY

$10 Adults + GST (includes parking)
$7 Children + GST

Please contact the Zoo’s guest relations office for information on group rates.

As you wander through Zoolights, you will be surrounded by the most amazing holiday cheer there is. Sip your hot chocolate, warming up by a fire pit and enjoying the great Canadian winter weather.

Speak directly to Santa at the North Pole, shop at the Elf’s Toy Shop that’s just for kids, participate in the NEW Penguin Plunge Kidz Zone and take a walk through Candy Land!

Don’t forget your non-perishable food bank donation. Collection bins will be placed at the North Gate entrance to the Zoo.

There are more then 1.5 million light reasons to come to Calgary’s favourite Holiday tradition:

•SantaVision allows children to talk directly to Santa in the North Pole. Later you can download the conversation to send to family and friends.

•New Penguin Plunge Kidz Zone with activities such as Happy Feet, March of the Penguins, Reindeer Toss and more!

•Ice Carving demonstrations every Friday and Saturday nights by Frozen Memories.

•Learn about the many different kinds of Wishing Trees celebrated around the world and then write your own wish to hang on the Zoo’s Wishing Tree.

•Every Friday and Saturday night, enjoy performances by local Calgary choirs.

•Enjoy two new light exhibits, including Candy Land and an Ode to Canada.

Please give yourself at least one hour to fully enjoy all that Zoolights has to offer


Canada oil sands output to triple by 2035: report
Nov 23, 2011

Production from the oil sands will more than triple over the next quarter century, to 5.1 million barrels per day, Canada’s national energy regulator said in a report released on Tuesday.

In a look at energy production and consumption through 2035, the National Energy Board said output from the oil sands, the largest source of U.S. oil imports, will continue to expand from around 1.5 million bpd currently as new mining and thermal projects tap the resources.

The oil sands of northern Alberta are the world’s third biggest crude reserves, behind only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, but the largest open to private investment.

The NEB said its forecast also assumes oil prices will rise slowly through to 2035, reaching $115 a barrel in 2010 dollars, a level that provides a reasonable profit even for expensive new mining and upgrading projects such as those operated by Suncor Energy Inc, Royal Dutch Shell and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

The board also estimates that Canadian oil exports will rise to 5 million bpd by 2035 from about 2 million currently, with most of the additional supply coming from oil sands projects.

However the board cautioned that its forecast assumes markets and infrastructure will be available to handle the additional production. That outlook comes despite a U.S. decision delaying the approval of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas by as much as 18 months.

The NEB said total production of Canadian crude oil would rise to 6 million barrels a day by 2035, double current levels. Though most will come from the oil sands, output from oil shale reserves like the Bakken field in Saskatchewan will also help bolster the total.

Photo by: Luuk van Beek

Friday, November 18, 2011


Thursday, November 17, 2011


New York Times September 28, 2011

Q. Our old apartment is sitting empty, and not selling. Is it worth the money to hire someone to stage it?

A. Staging an apartment — adding furniture and accessories to make it look lived in — can be expensive. But you may be able to cover your costs, and then some, by creating a more appealing environment.

“I won’t let people come on the market empty if I can help it,” said Deanna Kory, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group, who has used staging to help sell apartments for more than a decade.

Ms. Kory, who has staged apartments on her own and worked with professional staging companies, said renting a hand-picked selection of furniture and arranging it with accessories will often speed up a sale and generate a higher selling price. Generally, she has found that sellers with empty apartments can increase their selling price by “at least 5 to 10 times the investment you’re going to make” in staging, she said.

For instance, if you put in $10,000, it should yield between $50,000 and $100,000 more in profit than an apartment sold empty, she said.

But, she added, “There are good stagers and not-so-great stagers.”

“You have to get recommendations,” Ms. Kory said. “If they have a good track record, they should be able to tell you stories and show you some photos.”

One stager she has worked with is Sid Pinkerton, who runs a company called From Drab to Fab. Mr. Pinkerton has been in business since 2003, and he estimates that he has staged over a thousand apartments in New York City during that time.

One of the primary reasons for staging, he said, is that potential buyers often have difficulty understanding the proportions of empty rooms.

“Most Americans are what I call ‘visually challenged,’ ” Mr. Pinkerton said. “When rooms have no furniture in them, you have no size spec. It raises the question, ‘Will my furniture fit in here?’ The whole point of staging is to answer those questions before they even arise.”

This is especially true, he noted, when it comes to bedrooms. “They might feel small when they’re empty, when in fact they will very easily hold a queen-size bed, nightstand and dresser.”

While every job is different, Mr. Pinkerton said his services for staging an empty apartment “can be as little as $5,000, but up to $15,000 and more,” depending on factors like size and layout. Those figures include furniture rental; if you add some of your own furniture to the mix, the fee would be lower.

The other option, if you’re confident in your design skills, is to do it yourself. Companies like CORT (888-360-2678 or and Churchill Furniture Rental (800-941-7458 or carry a range of pieces catering to different tastes, available for short-term rental.

Just remember the goal. “You’re trying to appeal to the baseline needs of the general public,” Mr. Pinkerton said, not create a space that reflects your personal style. “Staging is the complete counterbalance to interior design.”

Images featured is the work of Bloom Property Stylists in Calgary, Alberta



New York Times November 16, 2011

Q. Can green updates increase the value of my home? If so, what are the most cost-effective options?

A. “If you do just one thing, it’s probably not going to add value,” said Jeffrey Schleider, managing director of Miron Properties, a real estate company specializing in green properties, in New York.

But when a number of environmentally friendly updates are implemented all together, they can help your home stand out from the crowd. “If you do five or six things as a package,” he said, “it really makes your property more appealing.”

That said, he added, “there are some investments where you won’t see a return on your investment, because they’re too expensive relative to the value they add.” So he advises starting with easy low-cost changes that target energy savings, clean water and clean air.

To cut energy consumption, he recommends motion-sensor switches in bathrooms and closets that will automatically turn lights on and off when people come and go. Basic models often cost under $20 at hardware stores.

To improve water quality, he suggests installing an under-counter filtration unit by a company like GE or Kohler, for filtered water at the kitchen sink.

“That’s something that people, both environmentally conscious and not, are interested in,” he said. “It stops the use of bottled water, but it’s also a convenience to have clean water at your tap. Even a very good system can be added for a few hundred dollars, and that adds value.”

To improve air quality, he said, sellers should use paints with low or no volatile organic compounds. “It’s not significantly more expensive,” he said, “but can be a huge appeal to buyers. Certain buyers are especially sensitive and can’t even look at homes that don’t have no-V.O.C. paint.”

Ellen Hanson, a New York interior designer who focuses on sustainability, echoed Mr. Schleider’s advice about using low- or no-V.O.C. paint.

She also suggests adding Energy Star-certified kitchen appliances, low-flow bathroom faucets and showerheads, and dual-flush toilets to the list of possible upgrades.

All these items save energy and water, she said, while giving your home a fresh new look.

“We also like to use multilayered window treatments to control solar gain and heat loss,” Ms. Hanson said. “You end up consuming less energy, but whether a buyer of your home would perceive that or not, I’m not sure.”

Indeed, many of these upgrades may go unnoticed if not spelled out in promotional materials. “A lot of them are choices you don’t see,” Ms. Hanson said. “But you can brag about them when you describe your property.”

Mr. Schleider also stresses the importance of marketing these upgrades, pointing out that they could give sellers an edge on the competition.

“It’s pretty tough to sell in some markets right now,” he said. “So any edge you can have is a positive.”

Photo By: Hat Sharpener

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Canadian consumers remain bullish on real estate market
October sales highest since beginning of year
By Garry Marr
Financial Post November 16, 2011

The Canadian housing market continues to defy those who have long predicted its collapse.

It was just another set of numbers, but if anything the market seemed to pick up steam with October sales across the country the best they have been since January.

The upward push caused the Canadian Real Estate Association to slightly revise its predictions for 2011. The group now says sales will be up 1.4 per cent from a year ago, instead of 0.9 per cent.

"The continuing strength of home sales activity in the face of ongoing financial volatility speaks volumes about the confidence of Canadians in our housing market," said Gary Morse, president of CREA.

Even going into 2012, CREA doesn't see much changing in the marketplace with interest rates near record lows. It's calling for a relatively minor 0.5 per cent reduction in sales next year.

The industry continues to have plenty to gloat about as annual sales have held steady in the $450,000 range for the past three years. Prices have also shown a steady upward trajectory and are now forecast to reached an average of $362,700 in 2011, which would be a seven per cent jump from the year before. Next year, prices are expected to remain flat - something most people in the real estate industry see as an accomplishment in the present economic environment.

"Home sales activity over the past couple of months suggests buyers are confident that the Canadian economy will remain relatively unscathed by global economic risks, since every home purchase is a homebuyer's vote of confidence in the future," said Gregory Klump, chief economist with CREA, adding there is strong feeling the government's fiscal policy would be coordinated to give housing any support it should need in the event of a pullback.

So far, the industry seems to be getting all the support it needs from a low interest rate environment that has kept people in the market. Variablerate mortgages tied to prime are still available as low as 2.7 per cent while a five-year fixed rate closed mortgage is now being discounted down to 3.19 per cent.

Toronto continued to carry the national market in October with sales up 14.3 per cent from a year ago. The activity in Canada's largest city helped boost overall sales activity, which rose 8.5 per cent from a year earlier. Prices across the country continue to be moderate with the 5.5 per cent year-over-year increase the smallest it has been since January.

The consensus among economists is that the housing industry might not have much more to give in terms of price increases or sales but they also are not predicting a massive decline either. "The fact that prices are overvalued today does not necessarily mean they will crash tomorrow," said Benjamin Tal, deputy economist with CIBC World Markets.

He thinks a "violent market meltdown" would need a catalyst like the a sub-prime crisis or a jump in interest rates like the industry saw in 1991. "We do believe the housing market in Canada will stagnate in the coming year or two," Tal said.

That housing market has become a key component of the country with a report from TD Economics saying the construction industry was second fastest growing industry in the country and accounts for 10 per cent of GDP. "While the industry's performance over the last decade has been astonishing, some of the recent strength is likely to taper off in the coming years," the bank said.

Photo By: WCampos3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


November 15, 2011

With sales of existing homes in Canada rising in October to the highest level since January, the Canadian Real Estate Association boosted its forecast for resale activity for 2011.

The industry group released data on October sales activity as well as a revised forecast for the year on Tuesday.

National sales of existing homes increased 1.2% from the previous month, building on a gain of 2.5% in September. Price gains however cooled to 5.5%, the smallest gains since January.

A total of 397,561 resale units have traded hands so far this year, CREA said, up 1.8% from levels in the first 10 months of 2010.

Here’s what you need to know about the booming Canadian housing market:

Ontario leads the way

Third-quarter sales activity in the province was stronger than forecast, while the rest of the country came in broadly in line with expectations, the CREA said.

It was the strength of activity in Ontario that prompted the CREA to boost its annual forecast for 2011 to 1.4%, up from 0.9%.

The industry group now predicts national sales of 453,300 for the year, compared with 446,915 in 2010.

198,000 of 2011′s residential sales are expected to come from Ontario, with Quebec and British Columbia expected to have sales of 77,000 and 76,600, respectively.

Home prices are still up but showing signs of cooling down

CREA kept its national average home price forecast for the year little changed at $362,700. That’s an annual increase of 7.0% compared with $339,049 in 2010.

Prices are expected to remain flat next year, with the CREA forecasting $362,700 again for 2012.

The industry group pointed to moderating prices in Vancouver in the third quarter compared with the first half of the year, with sales of multi-million dollar properties in that city returning to “more normal levels.”

CREA said the national average price in October rose 5.5% from a year earlier to just under $362,899, the smallest increase since January.

The balance of supply and demand is tight but the market remains on solid footing

October’s monthly rise in sales resulted in a slightly tighter balance of supply and demand, but the national housing market remains “firmly rooted in balanced territory,” the CREA said.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 53.4% in October, up from 52.8% in September.

Low interest rates continue to bolster the market

CREA also revised its forecast for 2012 upward slightly, predicting a smaller easing than previously expected of 0.5% to 451,200 units.

The uptick is largely due to expectations that Canada’s interest rates will stay low until well into 2012, CREA said.

But domestic and global economic headwinds could put pressure on the sector

“A number of factors will keep Canada’s housing market in check as interest rates remain low,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

He pointed to tightened mortgage regulations, high household debt and slower economic and job growth as possible headwinds.

However, Mr. Klump noted that persistent news of global economic uncertainty has put only minor dents in consumer confidence to date.

“How confidence evolves depends on how global turmoil plays out over the coming months,” he said.

Monday, November 14, 2011


#304, 2417 - 17 Street S.W.
Just listed for $239,900
Check it out at:

TOP FLOOR TWO BEDROOM FLAT IN BANKVIEW WITH AMAZING CITYSCAPE VIEWS! Located across the street from the Bankview Community Association with park, tennis courts and a playground; the location of this 3 storey walk-up will impress. Renovated in 2005, the interior features modern beadboard cabinetry in the kitchen with contemporary pulls, tiled granite counters, a full stainless steel appliance package and cozy office & breakfast nook. Designer light fixtures, maple hardwood/lush neutral carpet flooring, a 4 piece bathroom, insuite laundry and abundant storage, parking, bike enclosure and an east facing balcony with incredible views; brilliant elements in the inner city. Located close to 17th Avenue and minutes to both Downtown and Marda Loop, many of Calgary's best boutique shopping, stylish dining and all amenities are steps away. Book an appointment to view!


In Mats Gustafson’s Stockholm living room, antique and modern mingle freely. Photographs by Magnus Marding. Styled by Jacob Hertzell.

True North
Mats Gustafson
November 4, 2011

When you walk into the artist and illustrator Mats Gustafson’s apartment in Stockholm, you’re not quite sure what era you’re in. In the foyer, a turn-of-the-century painting of a bourgeois Swedish interior hangs beneath one of Isamu Noguchi’s oversize paper lanterns, and underfoot is a colorful mid-20th-century rug by Barbro Nilsson for the renowned Swedish workshop MMF. Under a midcentury nude painted by Birger Ljungquist, Gustafson’s great-uncle, sits a simple 1950s stool by the Swedish designer Carl Malmsten. Walk through an angled doorway into the living room, a high-ceilinged space with the graceful proportions and architectural ornament typical of late-19th-century buildings, and the mix gets even richer. An upholstered 19th-century Swedish bench along the window and a group of slipper chairs, all from Gustafson’s family, blend easily with sheepskin-covered wood chairs designed in the 1930s by Bruno Mathsson and tables by Josef Frank. Vases by Scandinavian Modern ceramics masters like Axel Salto and Berndt Friberg are clustered atop a traditional tiled fireplace, and the immaculate plaster walls (which are painted, aptly enough, Stockholm White) are hung with Gustafson’s spare, elegant watercolors. Venture into the apartment’s long corridor, however, and you’ll find up-to-the-minute bathrooms and a sunny, south-facing kitchen in which crisp, utilitarian cabinets provide a clean backdrop for an antique wooden table and chairs. This is an interior that’s modern and old-fashioned at the same time, and in all the right ways.

Gustafson, a Swede who moved to New York in 1980 (and who now lives in a 19th-century farmhouse in Sag Harbor), had kept a small apartment in this building — an imposing structure in Stockholm’s Sodermalm neighborhood — since the 1970s, but when a two-bedroom apartment became available, he couldn’t resist. “I needed a more mature place,” he said, one that would give him a space to work, and which would also provide comfortable living quarters for him and his partner, the jewelry and product designer Ted Muehling. Gustafson treasured the Old World graciousness of the space and wanted to make it more functional while protecting its considerable charms, “not to make it into something it wasn’t,” he explained.

His allies in this effort, as they were in the renovation of the smaller apartment and the Sag Harbor house, were the husband-and-wife architects Neil Logan and Solveig Fernlund of the New York firm Fernlund + Logan. Gustafson and Fernlund, a fellow Swede, have been friends for years. They come from similar backgrounds — they both grew up in the countryside; his mother designed rugs and hers was an art historian — and Gustafson’s 1989 watercolor portrait of Fernlund hangs in the new apartment’s living room. The architects are known for their aesthetically obsessed clients, including artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija and the textile manufacturer Michael Maharam, as well as Muehling, whose new Manhattan shop they recently completed.

The Stockholm apartment had been occupied for decades by Hilding Linnqvist, a painter who died in 1984, and his wife, and the rooms were in need of renovation. The kitchen was small, with a separate entrance, and there was a maid’s room, as well as lots of storage that had been added awkwardly throughout the apartment. Fernlund and Logan reorganized this part of the space, enlarging the kitchen and adding a doorway at each end to connect it visually and functionally to the rest of the apartment, getting rid of the maid’s room and adding a laundry room and a modern bathroom (one of two). As Fernlund explained, “The goal for everything we did was to add things we need to live now, without making them feel cut off from the apartment.” Wiring was replaced, woodwork was stripped (and repainted with an oil-based paint to bring out its details), and what had been the service hallway was cleared of its cabinets to make a central corridor that connects the apartment’s studio, living room and master bedroom (which are enfilade, with generous doorways between) with the kitchen, bathrooms and guest room. It was important to the architects that the subtlety of natural light be felt in every room. “Without shadows,” Fernlund said, the light becomes flat and lifeless, “adding that there is no built-in or recessed lighting in the rooms because Gustafson and Muehling prefer the glow of lamps and candles.

Once the spaces were completed, it was time to decorate, and Gustafson had plenty to work with. In addition to his own collections of Scandinavian Modern furniture and decorative arts (which he bought at thrift shops and junk stores before they were rediscovered), he had antiques and paintings from his parents’ house and saw no obstacle to mixing periods. “Rather than get ‘new’ old things,” he said, “I’d reuse these. There’s more of a connection.” Both he and Muehling believe that decorating is layering: “It’s not about perfection. This is very much our territory,” he added. And Muehling brought a touch of humor to the serene rooms with the addition of pieces like a Royal Copenhagen blue-and-white vase painted with ships, which he describes as “kitsch, or bordering on it. It’s different from the extreme good taste that we both tend to do.”

The apartment’s palette consists mainly of grays, browns and ochers against the cool white walls, and though it’s tonally restrained, it’s texturally complex. Gustafson said that his idea of the apartment was less “Fanny and Alexander” and more Vilhelm Hammershoi, the Danish painter known for his monochromatic, nearly empty, ethereally lighted interiors. “The Swedish sense, even if 19th century,” he suggested, “is more homespun — a little drab, if you want — but it is a Nordic thing. It’s not silk and velvet, let’s put it that way.”


Say yes to renos a fixer-upper can save on the overall cost of the house
National Post
Nov. 12, 2011

Don't pass by that shabby house just yet. With the average price of Ontario homes on the rise to almost $360,000, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) recommends looking beyond move-in-ready properties. "Everyone wants a house or condo that will be perfect the minute they move in," says Barbara Sukkau, president of OREA. "But with the price of houses continuing to rise, and some buyers looking for a family home in a seller's market, it may not be an option for all buyers. Buying a property that needs work can be a way to save on the overall cost even when you factor in the cost of an extensive renovation," she says. OREA recommends identifying properties with your realtor that will build equity after improvements are made but still remain in budget, and make sure the neighbourhood you invest in is worth it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Calgary house prices increased 126% over past decade
Projected 2011 average cost: about $402K
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald November 8, 2011

Strong in-migration, population growth and a vibrant oil and gas sector have pushed Calgary average house prices to an increase of 126 per cent in the past decade, says a new report published Monday by Re/Max.

The report said renovation spending and new construction have been "considerable" secondary factors propping up values throughout the city between 2000-2010.

The report also said the total value of residential building permits in the city during that period was the third highest in the country at $23.1 billion behind Toronto ($77.3 billion) and Vancouver ($35 billion).

"A few reasons I believe Calgary has seen such growth in the last 10 years is simple due to our strong economy from natural resources which has been a driving force in migration into Calgary for jobs," says Tanya Eklund, a realtor with Re/Max Real Estate Central.

"This has resulted in growing our population to well over one million, low unemployment rates, a strong GDP and the demand for housing.

"We are highly affected by inventory levels in real estate. When inventory is low and the demand is there, prices increase. . . . We had a very balanced market in this time period and saw huge economic growth which proved significant gains in the housing sector."

In Calgary, the average price rose from $176,305 in 2000 to $398,764 by year-end 2010.

The Re/Max Housing Evolution report said the average residential price in Canada rose 106 per cent in the past decade, led by Regina, which saw a hike of 173 per cent.

Regina was followed by Edmonton (165 per cent), Saskatoon (163 per cent), Winnipeg (158 per cent), Kelowna (156 per cent), St. John's (149 per cent), Greater Vancouver (128 per cent) and Calgary.

The report said investment in Canada's housing stock is at an all-time high in the 16 Canadian residential real estate markets surveyed.

"Revitalization, renovation and new construction have been largely underestimated in terms of overall impact on rising average price," said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president of Re/Max of Western Canada. "Yet, outside of supply and demand, these have been among the foremost variables influencing real estate values.

"Population growth is a central to housing evolution, supporting steady household formation, which in turn will boost revitalization, new construction and investment in Canada's housing stock for years to come. Ultimately, a rising population bolsters the health of the real estate sector and fuels the trends that lead to continued average price growth on all fronts."

A Housing Market Outlook by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said many factors that support resale housing demand in Calgary have become or remained favourable this year, including growth in full-time employment, low mortgage rates and improved net migration.

"However, competing factors such as uncertainty in the global economy has kept some prospective buyers on the fence, and will continue to temper any large increases in sales," said the CMHC.

The average price for a residential property in the Calgary census metropolitan area this year is forecast to be $402,000, up 0.8 per cent from 2010.

As the supply in the resale market moves lower and conditions become more balanced, stronger price growth is expected next year, said the CMHC. In 2012, the average price is anticipated to rise 2.2 per cent to $411,000.


Toronto tower builder eyes three Calgary projects
‘You can feel the wealth,’ says Toronto developer
By Dan Healing
Calgary Herald November 9, 2011

CALGARY — A Toronto residential tower condominium developer is proposing three projects for Calgary, attracted by the city’s wealth and style.

Brad Lamb, head of Lamb Development Corp., said Wednesday his company will partner with Fortress Real Capital on the first project, a 30-storey, 230-unit condo at 10th Street and 6th Avenue S.W.

The project is expected to cost about $62 million to build and its residential units and ground level retail to sell for around $80 million, he said.

“I’ve been looking at Calgary for five years trying to find the right opportunity,” he said.

“And I believe now is right for Calgary.”

Lamb said he believes Calgary is the most affluent city in Canada and, furthermore, that the downtown region between the Beltline and the river is ripe for high-density development.

“You can feel the wealth in Calgary,” he said as he prepared for a meeting with potential investors on Wednesday evening.

Lamb said his second project will be a hotel and condo combination and the third will be a highrise but its details can’t be revealed as yet.

The downtown Calgary market for residential towers has come back from 2008 when the shrivelling economy dealt a death blow to the four-tower Arriva project by Torode Residential Ltd.

In August, Vancouver-based Mike Bucci of Bucci Developments Ltd. said his company was shifting focus to Calgary, with two new projects, because the economy is more promising than in the company’s home town.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Tuesday that multi-family starts in the city are up 70 per cent for October and five per for the first 10 months compared with last year.

The numbers are being driven by the highest number of apartment unit starts since May 2008, it noted.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Adult kids living at home? It is going to cost you
Jonathan Chevreau
Financial Post Nov 9, 2011

In Italy, they’re called “big babies.” In North America, Generation Boomerang, which is also the title of a one-hour documentary about the phenomenon of adult children still living at home with their parents. It airs on CBC’s Doc Zone Thursday night at 9 p.m. EST.

This is a far more pervasive trend than you may think: fully half (51%) of young Canadians in their 20s still live with their parents, often in the bedrooms they’ve occupied since they were children. The percentage jumps to 60% when narrowed to just those aged 20 to 24.

Social scientists say it’s a global trend not likely to fade away – at least so long as developed economies are stagnant and jobs scarce. According to Newsweek, 55% of American males aged 18 to 24 still live at home.

The phenomenon is even more pronounced in Europe. In Italy, 70% of young adults live at “casa mama.” The Italian term “Bamboccioni” means big babies. And in the United Kingdom, one in three parents are remortgaging their homes to support “Yuckies” – Young, Unwitting, Costly Kids.

A year in the making, the documentary was produced by Vancouver-based Dream film Productions and directed by long-time business partners Sharon Bartlett and Maria LeRose, both Baby Boomers and parents. Their next project addresses youth unemployment.

Thursday’s show begins with and periodically revisits Vancouver comedian Phil Hanley, who has “mined comedic gold” about living with his parents in his 30s. His opening line is “I’m not only a comedian, I’m also a stay at home son.”

If Hanley can make the leap from living at home to show business success, he can skip entry-level jobs. As Maria LeRose notes, the irony is the topic of living at home may be what ultimately gets him out of there. In fact, he’s often on the road, but the parental home serves as his base.

Other subjects in the documentary have a similar strategy, prompting Seattle-based social psychologist Jane Adams to declare this a generation that refuses to start at the bottom and pay their dues.

“There are jobs the Boomerang generation don’t consider because they don’t fit their self image, values and expectations,” she says in an interview. “They want to live in the same style their parents raised them in, forgetting it took those parents 25 years to get there.”

Perhaps that’s why Paul Lermitte in Richmond, B.C. has decreed sons Patrick and Jeremy must leave home by 25. The youngest, 23-year old Jeremy, sees home as a “harbour” while he studies to become a financial analyst. The documentary builds suspense as Patrick approaches 25. He wants to break into film but figures jobs are scarce so needs to stay home while he builds up his contacts. “I don’t want to be stuck in a job where I’m not happy,” he tells the camera.

Publicist Jeremy Katz says Boomers were an historical blip in leaving the nest early. “Their parents and their parents’ parents lived at home until they got married and started their careers/life’s work.” When Boomers came of age, jobs were plentiful and housing cheap. “They just lucked out,” says Katz, himself a Boomer.

Here in 2011, 30 looks to be the new 20. Call it extended adolescence. Some sociologists consider it an entirely new life stage dubbed “emerging adulthood.” One former Boomeranger, Christina Newberry, twice returned home in her 20s and has parlayed the experience into a book and blog:

If you’re a Boomer parent, you better believe Junior’s extended stay will cost you, even delaying your own retirement. On average, it costs $200,000 to raise a child to 18 but an extended stay into their 20s can easily add on another third. A U.S. study found parents spend 10% of their income to support their adult children. Jane Adams doesn’t think economics alone explains the phenomenon but warns Boomers can’t get on with their second adulthood if their kids haven’t got on with their first one.

I wonder if these kids are shortchanging themselves by avoiding entry-level jobs and the raw material of life experience. Every job, no matter how humble, provides life lessons and may lead to unforeseen opportunities via random encounters unlikely to occur while they’re holed up in their childhood bedrooms surfing the web.

Many of these kids appear to be aspiring writers or creative types, in which case the supposed “joe jobs” they’re spurning might furnish more comedic or creative gold than would staying at home.

Photo By: Mimi Jaffe

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


A guy's guide to a spiffy abode
Barbara Mahany
Chicago Tribune October 31, 2011

We’re not pointing fingers or anything, but let’s just say we might have strolled into more than one apartment in our time in which the fellow in charge of cleaning was, well, clearly otherwise preoccupied.

Exhibit One might have been the kitchen sink, piled high with a good month’s worth of dirty dishes, spaghetti sauce now permanently splattered to the wall, a la Jackson Pollock. Or maybe it was whatever lurked behind the bathroom door. And made us slam the door, dash down the hall and bang on some stranger’s door in search of a salle de bain not quite so, um, pungent.

Fact is, plenty of males we know need help in the cleanup department. And we are here, mop and dustbin at the ready, to leap to the rescue. We enlisted the expert advice of Nicole Sforza, senior home editor at Real Simple magazine and a clean freak who knows her way around all the nooks, crannies and dust holes that might trip up a lesser soul.

Herewith, our Guy’s Guide to Housecleaning, headlining the top 10 tips for a spick-and-span abode. Or, as Sforza put it: “How to minimize the gross factor.”

1. DITCH THE TOILET BRUSH, DUDE. No really. You do not want that nasty thing festering in the holder, over there in the corner. “Minimize the concept altogether,” says Sforza. Go with disposable toilet brushes. Swish, and ditch. (Or ditch ‘em altogether: Next time you find yourself in need of Alka-Seltzer, well, your toilet bowl could use two, too. Just pop ‘em in the bowl, let the bubbles do their thing, and 20 minutes later, flush it all away.)

2. HIDE THE GOODS. Keep a bottle of all-purpose cleaner in every room in your house, but hide it. Under the couch. Beneath the sink. You name it.

3. CUT THE BIG SCREEN FIXATION. Do not, do not spritz any sort of cleaner on your big screen, boys. Ditto for the computer screen or any electronic gizmos that sport a dusty patina. Instead, next time you haul a load of laundry out of the dryer, grab the old dryer sheet (yes, the one that just came out of the dryer) and wipe down your screens, all of ‘em.

4. BE STILL MY DUSTER HEART. Yes, the hand-held shaggy-haired wandy thingy is the next best thing to that genie in a bottle. You don’t need any spray. Just swipe the duster on any surface and you’ll clear the decks of dust. But beware: When the duster starts to turn a greyish colour (say, how you look when you glance in the mirror on the morning after a big night out), it’s time to toss it out.

5. LEAVE IT WHERE YOU’LL TRIP OVER IT. The tile cleaner, that is. Tuck it between the shower curtain and the shower liner (if you have one), so you’ll remember to spritz the tile walls every time you suds up.

6. HIDE ALL BUT THE ESSENTIALS, when it comes to the bathroom at least. Toothbrush? Toothbrush holder? Razor? Rusty can of shaving cream? Why do you think medicine cabinets come with doors? Shove ‘em back there, and forget ‘em. If you’re lucky, no nosy body will stick her nose in there and sniff out your unsightly ways.

7. VROOM, VROOM GOES THE VACUUM. Just because you have thick rugs or shaggy carpet and can’t see the dirt, don’t think it’s not down there. Plug in the vacuum, and suck it up. Sforza’s tips: Don’t pretend you have no vacuum; remember to overlap your path; and a mini hand vac never hurts — you can swipe up a rug in no time.

8. THE BATHTUB. We could spend weeks on this sorry pit, but let’s start easy. If you’ve remembered to put a hair trap over the drain, know this: You do have to clean out the hairs. And pouring a shot of white vinegar and a clump of baking soda down that drain will never ever be a bad idea. Have at it, Mr. Volcano Man.

9. MOVE OVER, MICROWAVE GRUNGE. You’re gonna love this: Fill a microwave-safe bowl with water (a squirt of lemon scores you extra points); zap for five minutes, till the inside of the ‘wave is all steamy. Wipe it down with paper towel and you’re back in business, splatter-free.

10. TIME TO HIT THE KITCHEN SINK. Once you suds through the month’s worth of dirty plates and bowls, you will notice that there is a sink down there. It will need a shine. Take half a lemon and swipe it all over your sink’s surface, and if — and only if — you have a garbage disposal, make it purr: Stuff a half lemon down there and crank it up. Your kitchen will smell like a citrus grove. Well, maybe.


—INVITE FOLKS OVER. Yes, sir, surest way to force you to clean is to consider the faces of your friends when they realize what a slob you really are. Sorry, tough love is the only way sometimes.

—SPEED CLEAN. Set a time limit, something tolerable, say, 20 minutes. Crank the timer. Rush around like a crazy man. See how much real estate you can cover before the gong goes off.

—STICK TO COMMERCIAL BREAKS. Got a long night in front of the big screen? Well, put those commercials to good use, and commit to cleaning while the ads whir by. By the time you click it off for the night, your home sweet home could be shinin’.

—A GREAT PLAYLIST IS A HOUSECLEANER’S BEST FRIEND. We’ll let you compile your own.

Photo By: Christian Yanchula


National Post Nov 1, 2011

TORONTO — Eric Goldstaub curses, spits out a stream of naughty words and then abruptly apologizes for having uttered them. He can’t help himself, he says. It was a long time ago, a lifetime, but when he thinks back to the Vienna he once knew and all the doors that he knocked on — and all the doors that were shut in his face — his temper sparks.

“I went to every goddamn consulate there ever was in Vienna. Vienna, as the Austrian capital, had all the consulates,” the 89-year-old growls. “I wanted to get visas for my parents and for my relatives. I had 20 relatives. My family, we were 20. And I was going from one bloody consulate to the other. ”

He was a Viennese Jew, and this was his beloved Vienna in 1938, after the Austrians had welcomed Hitler and his Nazi thugs with straight-armed salutes and a campaign of Jewish persecution that would escalate into the Holocaust.

Mr. Goldstaub was a teenager from an influential Jewish family, with a trench coat, a fedora, kind-looking eyes and a talent for dancing.

His fruitless waltz around the city district housing international embassies ended when he visited the Chinese consulate and was met there by Dr. Feng Shan Ho, the Consul General.

“It was a warm reception, and he said bring your passports tomorrow and we will give you all visas,” Mr. Goldstaub says.

“I didn’t believe my eyes, my ears. It was like a miracle that he would say that and, sure enough, I went back the following day and brought all the family’s passports and he sent me away with visas for Shanghai, China.

“And I didn’t even know where the hell China was.”

Much was lost in the Holocaust including, in large part, the story of a Chinese diplomat, an Oscar Schindler of the Far East who, with a stroke of the pen rescued thousands of Jews from the death camps.

“Very few people did the right thing during the Holocaust,” says Bernie Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, who is lecturing in Toronto on Wednesday about the unsung heroes of the Holocaust, for which Mr. Goldstaub will be in the audience. “If more people acted as did Feng Shan Ho, and others, it would be a different world today.”

The world in 1938 was a dangerous place, especially for Jews. Shanghai, an open port city without any diplomatic controls and with a Japanese occupying army watching over it, became a safe harbour for thousands fleeing the coming horrors in Europe.

“People usually ask me two questions about my father,” says Manli Ho, the diplomat’s daughter, from San Francisco.

“Why would some Chinese guy be saving Jews in Vienna when so many Europeans were turning their backs, and why didn’t he talk about it?”

The answer, she believes, is that helping people was the most natural thing for her father to do. And since it was, he never spoke about it after the fact.

Dr. Ho devoted one sentence of a 700-page Chinese language memoir he published in 1990 to the Viennese visa scheme. What he omitted is a Hollywood blockbuster that has never been made.

For two years, he issued visas. Five hundred a month on average, despite being ordered to stop by his superiors and being evicted from the building housing his office by the Germans. Dr. Ho opened a new office, and paid for it out of his own pocket when his Chinese boss in Berlin shut off the money tap. He kept issuing visas until he was transferred out of Austria in 1940. He died in California in 1997, having never met the people he helped save, beyond a fleeting, life-giving encounter in Vienna.

..Mr. Goldstaub was among the lucky ones. He got out with his family and, after 12 years in Shanghai, a time he remembers as a “great adventure” of youth, he moved to Canada and began importing classic clocks and barometers.

“My company is called Ergo Industries — Ergo — for Eric Goldstaub,” says the proprietor, plunking a business card in my palm.

Mr. Goldstaub is honorary president. It is a title he takes seriously, spending most mornings at an office in suburban Toronto reading newspapers, drinking tea and kibitzing with the employees, including his son, Danny, who runs the place.

The old man is turning 90 in a few weeks. On a rare morning at home, in a spacious apartment, surrounded by ticking clocks and trinkets from China and photos of his grandchildren, Mr. Goldstaub smiles. He says that he has lived a good life, one full of richness and luck.

“If I never knocked on that door in Vienna I would have been in a concentration camp,” he says. “And I would have died, I am almost sure of that. Our whole family would have died.

“We needed Feng Shan Ho. He saved us. It was a miracle.”

National Post