Friday, September 21, 2012


Calgary and Edmonton to lead Canadian economic growth
Energy-related investment to fuel expansion
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald September 18, 2012

CALGARY — Calgary and Edmonton are forecast to be the fastest growing economies in Canada over the next four years, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2012 released Tuesday.

“Energy-related investment in Alberta is expected to stay vibrant throughout the next four years. For instance, about $29-billion worth of energy-related projects are now underway in the province, and nearly $86-billion worth of projects are proposed for the future,” said Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre for Municipal Studies, for the board.

“All this investment will continue to be a boon to Calgary’s economy, which remains the services hub of the province’s energy sector.”

The board is forecasting Calgary to have the best economic growth in the country over 2013-2016 at an average of 3.7 per cent followed by Edmonton’s average annual real GDP growth at 3.5 per cent during the forecast period.

For this year, the board is predicting Edmonton will lead the country with 4.6 per cent growth followed by Calgary at 3.8 per cent.

“Without a doubt, I expect that Alberta is going to be the envy of the country moving forward into closing out 2012 and into 2013,” said Ben Brunnen, chief economist with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. “While the growth will be the strongest in the country, particularly for our cities, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re in great economic times.

“There are some storm clouds on the horizon. I expect fully we’ll see a recession in Europe. The Chinese economy is slowing substantially. And the U.S. has its election coming forward. What this means is there’s going to be a dampening on economic growth globally and as a consequence it’s going to affect Canada. That said, the investment in the province has been strong to date and should continue to be strong.”

The board said Calgary is coming off a “very strong performance” in 2011 with economic growth at 5.0 per cent. The strong growth expected during the forecast period will be “helped along by strong consumer spending and spinoff benefits from the energy sector.”

Employment growth is forecast for 4.1 per cent this year in Calgary followed by annual growth rates of 1.9 per cent, 2.6 per cent, 2.5 per cent, and 2.1 per cent from 2013 to 2016. And retail sales are forecast to grow by 9.2 per cent this year followed by growth of 6.2 per cent, 5.3 per cent, 5.3 per cent and 4.8 per cent during the forecast period.

Also on Tuesday, a report by TD Economics said Canada will likely experience a shift from household and government-led growth towards exports and investment, but global headwinds appear to have delayed this transition until the first half of 2013.

In the meantime, the report said, the economy will be stuck in neutral and Canada’s economic expansion will be constrained to a pace near two per cent.

“In the first half of 2012, governments constrained their spending while households pared back their rate of borrowing and spent at a miserly pace. While most major housing markets have held up reasonably well, there are signs — most notably in Vancouver — that markets have reached a peak,” said TD Bank Group’s chief economist Craig Alexander. “And in the near term, the slowdown is expected to broaden across the country, following the implementation of tighter rules on insured-mortgage lending this past summer.

“Canada’s economy has turned out a relatively strong performance in recent years, but the growth has not been broadly based and imbalances have amassed. On the plus side, governments and households, which have been pulling Canada’s economy along by the coat-tails for years, have begun to address their debt challenges. Recent changes to mortgage borrowing rules will help to address part of the over-valuation in housing markets. Going forward, it will be equally critical for the economy to transition to more export and investment-led growth.”

Photo By : Bulliver

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Shrinking family sizes bode well for Canada’s condo sector
Garry Marr
Financial Post Sep 19, 2012

Maybe the condo industry knew something revealed to the rest of us only Wednesday — family sizes are shrinking.

Statistics Canada’s census data showed a dramatic increase in one-person households, up 10.4% from 2006 to 2011. For the first-time, more households were comprised of couples without children than with children. Family size also shrunk, with the average number of children dropping from 2.7 in 1961 to 1.9 in 2011.

All of this seems to bode well for a condominium sector which demands its occupants accept smaller quarters than they are historically used to.

“I think the housing stock has already responded,” said Don Lawby, chief executive of Century 21 Canada. “I think the major cities are the ones that reacted the fastest. There is a movement that has been forced by economics to smaller accommodation.”

Mr. Lawby notes if you’ve made the decision not to have children, as the statistics show some have, that means you are living a very different life and your housing needs are not the same.

“Of course, this all plays into the condo’s hand,” he says. “But there still will be people who desire to have a single family detached home where they are the king of the castle.”

The evidence already points to huge demand for high-rise units, both from buyers who want to live in the units and investors who rent them out. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said it expects 207,200 new housing starts with 123,700 in the multiple-unit category, predominantly made up of condominiums.

And while there are forecasts that the housing market is slowing, the Crown corporation is still predicting 193,100 starts next year with 109,000 coming from the multiple category. Condominium projects in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto have driven the demand, CMHC says.

Brian Johnston, chief operating officer of Mattamy Corp., said the industry has been responding rather than leading. “I think there has been demand for smaller housing,” he said.

All of this might just confirm what the real estate industry has been saying all along — they were just giving the people what they want. “I see these comments that builders are building too many houses — builders don’t create new houses because it’s a good idea, they do it because there is demand,” says Mr. Johnston, noting bank financing requires high pre-sale levels.

Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics, predicts the impact on real estate of the country’s changing demographics is just starting. “Part of the condo boom is driven by Boomers starting to downsize and move into new types of housing,” he said. “[Living in] the single family [home] starts to dwindle after 50.”

Though the impact of the Baby Boomers has yet to be seen, Mr. Norris said they will probably downsize more than their predecessors.

Craig Alexander, chief economist with Toronto-Dominion Bank, says while there definitely is more demand for condo-style living, the overall amount of housing stock being built is still above household formation.

“We can tell from the census numbers that we are building too many houses,” says Mr. Alexander, noting there were 189,000 net new households per year from 2006 to 2011. “Yet when we look at the pace of home construction it has been well over 200,000 and in fact it was 218,000 annualized starts so far in 2012.”

He says you can build past demographic requirements for a short period, perhaps catching up with a previous lag, but it has to stop at some point.

“On the one hand I am concerned about the condo market because when we look at the current pace of construction and compare it to a generally sustainable rate, it’s way too fast but over the long haul there is long-term strong demand for condos,” says Mr. Alexander.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Resale condo pace reflects 'confidence'
By Josh Skapin
Calgary Herald September 7, 2012

Total sales of resale condos in Calgary continued to climb in August, rising 19 per cent compared to the same month last year, says the Calgary Real Estate Board.

There were 556 sales of apartments and townhouses last month, up from 468 transactions in August 2011, says the board.

The biggest increase came in townhouses, which saw a 31 per cent hike in resale activity last month compared to the same month last year.

But the average resale price for townhouses in Calgary in August was $281,941, 3.45 per cent lower than the same period last year.

“Some continue to foresee a scenario where price declines are looming in the local housing market, especially given national trends,” says chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie in a news release.

“There is no question economic concerns can threaten our housing recovery. However, to date, Calgary housing market consumers are exhibiting confidence evidenced through the pick-up in sales activity across all housing types.”

While townhouse prices are down, the average resale price of condo apartments was 7.22-per-cent higher last month than in 2011, rising to $281,941 per unit.

The area in Calgary with the highest condo apartment and townhouse resale activity in the city last month was in Zone C, which roughly corresponds to the city’s southwest.

Not only did the area have 288 deals, it also had the highest average resale price at $314,467.

Zone A, which roughly corresponds to the city’s northwest, saw the second highest sales totals and average price.

The average price in Zone A was $294,867 for 155 sales last month.

Zone D, which translates to southeast Calgary, had 66 transactions last month at an average rate of $287,340.

At the same time, Zone B, which covers northeast, Calgary saw 47 units change hands at an average price of $172,234.


The biggest increase in condo apartment resale activity in Calgary has come in the $200,000 to $299,999 price range, says the Calgary Real Estate Board.

To Aug.1, 1,132 units in this price range changed hands in Calgary, up from only 949 sales during the same month last year.

The $200,000 to $299,999 price range led all condo sales in the city in August, alone, at 151.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Canada among 7 best housing markets in the world
Mamta Badkar
Business Insider Sep 5, 2012

While much of the world is seeing home prices depreciate, there are a few countries where home prices are on the rise.Canada ranked among Germany, Switzerland and Hong Kong in the top 7 housing markets.

Global Property Guide’s latest report shows, however, that even the strongest housing markets are losing momentum as the economy falters.

Of the 39 countries tracked by GPG quarterly house prices fell in 25 countries and climbed in just 13.

We published the worst housing markets Tuesday, and today we’ve highlighted the 7 best housing markets in the world, based on year-over-year home price changes.

Canada ranked among Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong in the top 7.

Home prices in Hong Kong were up 3.01 percent year-over-year (YoY) and 6.85 percent quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) in Q2 2012

Home prices in Canada were up 4.06% YoY and 1.59% QoQ in Q2 2012

Home prices in Switzerland were up 4.86 percent YoY but down 0.54 percent QoQ in Q2 2012

Home prices in Germany were up 5.24 percent YoY but down 2.02 percent QoQ in Q2 2012

Home prices in Delhi, India were up 6.23 percent YoY nut down 1.09 percent QoQ in Q2 2012

Home prices in Norway were up 6.26 percent YoY and up 2.98 percent QoQ in Q2 2012

Home prices in Sao Paulo, Brazil were up 15.56 percent YoY and 2.38 percent QoQ in Q2 2012

Photo By: cityNnature