Friday, November 30, 2012


Calgary’s 8th Avenue S.W. second most expensive street for office space in Canada
Toronto’s Bay Street tops in average street rent
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald November 28, 2012

CALGARY — Calgary’s 8th Avenue S.W. strip is the second most expensive street in Canada for office space, according to a report by Jones Lang LaSalle.

The company said Toronto’s Bay Street comes in at No. 1 with average rents running at around $68.91 per square foot and the top rent on the street at $82.28 per square foot.

Calgary’s 8th Avenue S.W. follows with average office rents of $55.33 per square foot and the top rent on the street at $76.50 per square foot.

“It is clear from our ranking that companies are keen to pay a premium to be in the most prestigious locations,” said Brett Miller, president of Jones Lang LaSalle Canada. “Our figures also prove that demand is not abating and rents have moved up year-over-year in every city confirming the strength of the Canadian office market.”

Calgary’s 8th Avenue S.W made its debut this year to reach second on the list. Last year, Calgary’s 3rd Avenue S.W. was in fourth place.

This year’s list after 8th Avenue S.W. with their average street rent and top street rent includes: Vancouver’s Burrard Street, $54.75, $65.41; Ottawa’s Albert Street, $53.18, $53.18; Edmonton’s 101st Street NW, $49.40, $55.25; Montreal’s Rene-Levesque Boulevard West, $46.46, $56.19; and Halifax’s Upper Water Street, $35.57, $35.78.

Maggie Schofield, executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, said the high Calgary rent along 8th Avenue is due to the existence of office skyscrapers Bankers Hall and Eighth Avenue Place.

“We’re certainly not surprised that the rates would be very high. It’s all about location. These are very, very high demand properties and the market is certainly driving it. There’s a great deal of appetite for high level, the top class, real estate in the downtown core from the office perspective,” said Schofield.

“A number of companies are trying to take advantage of the fact that they can now get into some of these newer properties and get contiguous space which has been a real challenge for a lot of companies that are trying to expand. So they’re looking at these opportunities and they’re willing to pay that price to get all their people in the same office building rather than being scattered in three or four or five separate towers depending on which company you are.”

Other advantages include the number of amenities along 8th Avenue, particularly in retail, great access to transit and available parking spaces in newer buildings, she said.

Commercial real estate firm CBRE said the vacancy rate in the downtown Calgary office market for Class AA space was 0.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year. It has dipped after being 10.6 per cent at the end of 2009.

According to CBRE, the average net asking rent for Calgary downtown Class AA office space was $23.50 per square foot in the second quarter of 2000. It peaked at $54.48 in the second and third quarters of 2008 then dipped to $33.78 in the first quarter of 2010.

In the third quarter of this year, the average net asking rent for Calgary downtown Class AA office space was $42.00.

The Jones Lang LaSalle report indicated that the differences between the average market rents and the average street rents this year were 133 per cent for Bay Street and 63 per cent for 8th Avenue S.W.

In 2011, it said Bay Street had an average street rent of $52.09 with a top street rent of $78.19. For 8th Avenue last year it was $49.94 for the average street rent and $54.19 for the top street rent.

Photo By: Tony Tran


Calgary resale housing market sales strong in November
Sales up nearly 7% over last year
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald November 30, 2012

CALGARY — Calgary’s resale housing market continues to defy a national cooling trend.

With one day left in November, data from the Calgary Real Estate Board indicates total MLS sales and average prices during the month in the city are elevated from last year.

From November 1-29, there have been 1,390 total MLS sales, up 6.92 per cent compared with the same period a year ago and the average sale price has risen by 4.90 per cent to $433,590.

Every housing category in the city has seen strength in numbers this month.

In single-family homes, there have been 960 sales, up 3.56 per cent from last year, with the average sale price moving up by 3.93 per cent to $488,155.

The condo apartment category has experienced 245 transactions, an increase of 6.52 per cent, while the average price has risen by 22.14 per cent to $309,235.

In the condo townhouse sector, the average sale price has jumped by 3.15 per cent to $315,126 and sales are up 29.37 per cent to 185 transactions.

On Friday, the Conference Board of Canada released its regular monthly resale housing market report of major centres across Canada and it said the average year-over-year price growth for the latest three months in Calgary is between three to 4.9 per cent.

In October, the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of sales in the Calgary census metropolitan area was 27,312, up 22 per cent year-over-year while new listings of 39,864 were down 8.4 per cent.

The average residential sale price of $423,468 was up 5.5 per cent from last year.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Witness 1.5 million Christmas lights in their most glorious state at the Calgary Zoo.

Voted Best Christmas Event 2011 by Calgary’s Child Magazine’s Parents’ Choice Awards.

Calgary’s Favourite Holiday tradition is back, and this year we are adding even more light displays, figures and activities for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

November 23 — January 5
(excluding Christmas Day
and New Year's Eve)

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm nightly
gates close at 8:30 pm
North Gate Only

$10 General (16 +) + gst (includes parking)
$7 children (3-15) + gst
Under 2 years are free

Group Rates – Please contact the Calgary Zoo’s Guest Relations office for information on group rates. 403-232-9300

Calgary Co-op locations will stop selling Zoolights tickets as of January 5, 2012. Tickets will be available through the Calgary Zoo website or at the north gate.

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, warm up by a fire pit and take in 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.

Come experience Calgary’s favourite holiday tradition.

There are more then 1.5 million 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 Water Wonderland Kids Zone!

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

•The Country 105 Wishing Tree - enter to have a wish you’ve made for yourself or someone you love granted!

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

•Enjoy the plethora of new light figures and exhibits created for your enjoyment

•Don’t forget your non-perishable food bank donation. Collection bins will be placed at the North Gate entrance to the Zoo and you’ll receive a 2for1 admission ticket to the Zoo.


Luxury realtor Sotheby’s to expand into Canmore, Banff
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald November 22, 2012

CALGARY — Sotheby’s International Realty Canada is expanding its luxury real estate brand to other parts of Alberta, the Herald has learned.

Ross McCredie, president and chief executive of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, said the Calgary office, which opened in June of last year, has been a smashing success and now the firm has plans to expand its presence in the market.

“That office is performing incredibly well ... Right now we have about 30 people. We probably won’t add much more to the Calgary operation,” said McCredie.

“We are going to be opening very shortly in Canmore and we’ll have a marketing/gallery office in Banff opening very shortly as well. We are currently in discussion with a number of people in Edmonton and we’re actively looking for locations in Edmonton right now.”

The company is targeting some time in 2013 for the opening of an Edmonton office.

The luxury home market in Calgary has been booming with no signs of letting up.

The city experienced a record-breaking month in October with 51 MLS sales of properties over $1 million in Calgary, which was the most ever for an October, and that pushed year-to-date sales in the luxury market to 459, one more than previous record set in 2007 for the entire year.

Last year, there were 35 luxury home sales in October and year-to-date in 2011 there were 395 sales in the luxury market up to the end of October.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the following are the highest sales for luxury homes outside of this year: 2007 — 458; 2011 — 446; 2008 — 369; and 2010 — 365.

“Talk of fiscal cliffs and budget deficits has done nothing to curb Calgarian’s appetite for luxury homes with sales still going strong in November,” according to Mike Fotiou, associate broker with First Place Realty, on his blog.

“Between November 1-20, there have been 29 single family homes sold in Calgary for a million dollars or more. That’s on pace to set a record high for the month of November, after already setting an October high last month and a total record high earlier this year in May.”

Recently, it was announced that 360 VOX Corporation has acquired the real estate businesses known as Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Sotheby’s International Realty Quebec and Blueprint Global Marketing.

“It really elevates our platform,” said McCredie of the merger.

360 VOX is a publicly-traded company, incorporated under the laws of Ontario and listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. It is engaged in the business of managing and developing international hotel, resort, residential and commercial real estate projects.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


When is it time to give up the family home?
By Garry Marr
Financial Post Nov 17, 2012

It’s a conversation certified financial planner Lise Andreana usually saves for last.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake CFP, who counts a large number of Baby Boomers among her clients, says plans for the family home are one of the more difficult subjects to address.

“It’s something that comes up all the time,” says Ms. Andreana, adding clients have to make the decision sometimes for financial reasons and other times for health considerations. “It’s a piece I leave until the last. I start with ‘sell the house never’ as a default position.”

Most people want to hold onto their home into retirement. The latest data from 2012 Census from Statistics Canada shows only about 2.6% of the population 65 and over was living in residences for senior citizens — about 72.3% of them women.

Living longer and working longer has people staying in their homes and, in some cases, even up-sizing by taking on more debt, says one real estate executive.

The evidence from StatsCan shows that in 2011, 66.5% of men aged 65 to 69 lived in a single-detached house compared with 60.4% for women. Once you get to 85, just 44.3% of men live in a single-detached house and 30.9% of women.

It’s clear the older we get the more likely we are to abandon the family home with the difficult decision being when to do it. A key trigger point is when kids move out of the house and you just don’t need the space.

“Many people move from more expensive areas to [cheaper ones] to save money too,” says Ms. Andreana, who suggests if you are still making mortgage payments into retirement you really need to think about moving because your income is gone.

The problem is adult children are moving back home like never before, forcing many Baby Boomers to keep that extra large house just in case their kids need a soft landing. StatsCan said about 42% of young adults 20-29 lived with their folks in 2011, a huge jump from 32.1% in 1991 and 26.9% in 1981.

That could be a reason to actually downsize, so your kids can’t move in. “I actually did that with my kids,” says Ms. Andreana, with a laugh. “I sold my three-bedroom house and bought a townhouse and said ‘guess what, your bedroom is gone. There is no where for you to go.”

Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics, said Baby Boomers probably worry about their kids, but also the economic climate, which could keep them in the house longer. “It’s uncertain times,” says Mr. Norris. “But there comes a time where you do make that choice and it’s often driven by lifestyle.”

Mr. Norris says a new trend developing is downsizing to condominiums, but doing it by moving to the suburbs so Baby Boomers can be close to grandchildren. Condo growth in Toronto’s suburbs has actually been faster than downtown, even if the overall number of units pales in comparison. But in many Canadian cities high-rise development outside the urban core is negligible.

“You see a lot of care giving of grandkids being done by grandparents today and they want to be close to them,” he says.

In some cases those Boomers are actually taking on more debt so they can get into a larger home later in life.

“It is surprising to most people that instead of downsizing they are setting new standards for retirement living,” said Gurinder Sandhu, managing director of Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “There is a significant number of them upgrading and actually assuming greater mortgages. It’s so unlike previous generations.”

It could have something to do with the housing boom. Surveys continually point to people believing their homes are a key part of their retirement package. If you believe that, leveraging a good investment can make sense.

The bottom line is Baby Boomers seem destined to stay in their homes as long as they can, says Fred Vettese, chief actuary of Morneau Shepell. “The vast majority (nine out of 10) of middle- to upper-income Canadians own their home at the point of retirement and almost all of them stay in their homes beyond retirement,” he says. “The slight percentage drop in ownership among those who are 70-plus probably reflects the portion of them who are 80-plus who move to retirement homes or move in with their children.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Strong momentum forecast for Calgary housing market into 2013
RE/MAX report says Calgary sales to continue strong
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald November 14, 2012

CALGARY — Calgary’s housing market is forecast to remain strong in 2013 following increased sales activity this year, according to real estate firm RE/MAX.

In its Housing Market Outlook 2013, released Wednesday, the company said MLS sales in Calgary are expected to finish this year at 25,500 transactions, up 13.5 per cent from the previous year and the forecast is for sales to grow by another 10 per cent in 2013 to 28,100.

Meanwhile, the average MLS sales price this year is estimated to increase by 2.5 per cent to $413,000 and rise by another two per cent in 2013 to $423,000.

“Calgary is expected to head into 2013 with a level of momentum not seen in years. Solid economic performance and strong consumer confidence are forecast to propel the residential housing market forward,” said RE/MAX.

It said Canadian real estate markets demonstrated remarkable resilience in 2012 — with home sales up or on par in 65 per cent of major centres — despite considerable headwinds in terms of tighter financing and economic uncertainty abroad. The trend is expected to continue, with homebuying activity propped-up by low interest rates and an improved economic picture in 2013, according to the report.

Nationally, an estimated 454,000 homes will change hands in 2012, falling one per cent short of the 2011 level of 456,749. Canadian home sales are expected to almost mirror the 2012 performance next year, holding steady at 454,000 units. The average price of a Canadian home is expected to remain stable at $364,000 in 2012 — on par with the figure reported in 2011. Values are expected to appreciate nominally in 2013, rising to $366,500, one per cent above year-end 2012 levels.

“Looking forward, there are a number of factors on the horizon that will serve to bolster residential activity in 2013,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president for RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Canada’s economic performance is expected to show signs of improvement, particularly in the latter half of the year, which should bode well for housing markets across the country. Historically low interest rates will also continue to drive healthy homebuying activity.”

The RE/MAX report said Calgary’s residential real estate market appears poised for growth.

This year’s level of sales activity will be the highest since 2007 when 31,897 sales were recorded.

“Recovery is underway in the city, with some areas reporting greater strength than others,” said the report. “Calgary’s inner core has been particularly robust, in large part due to the proximity to the downtown. Activity surged this spring in neighbourhoods such as Killarney, Hillhurst, Marda Loop, Mount Royal, and the Foothills, pushing up values to heights not seen in recent years.

“Peripheral areas also experienced stronger demand, but price increases were less pronounced. By mid-year, however, purchasers had settled into a more normal buying pattern. Balanced market conditions emerged, with first-time buyers working in tandem with moveup purchasers.”

The report said single-family homes were most sought after, especially under the $450,000 price point, where 67.5 per cent of overall residential sales occurred.

Condos represented about 16 per cent of total residential sales in the city.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Calgary and Edmonton displace Toronto and Vancouver as top real estate markets
Limited supply in Calgary pushes rents higher
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald November 6, 2012

CALGARY — Calgary and Edmonton have displaced Toronto and Vancouver as the top-ranked cities for overall real estate prospects, according to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2013 report released Tuesday.

The report, by PwC and the Urban Land Institute, said the Canadian real estate market is expected to remain steady with “modestly good” investment and development prospects across most property sectors for 2013, reflecting expectations of solid supply and demand.

Calgary was the top-ranked city in the country followed by Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa.

In this year’s survey, Calgary ranked first in both investment and development prospects and second in homebuilding prospects.

“Growth characterizes Calgary’s future; it displaces Toronto as the top ranked city for 2013,” said the report. “This has made it challenging to acquire high quality real estate in Calgary, absorption of prime properties has reached record levels, and rents are being pushed due to limited supply.

“This trend will continue in 2013, especially in office and industrial employment space. Construction will increase in the housing and non-residential arenas, but nowhere near pre-crisis levels.”

According to survey participants, Canada’s real estate market will follow along in a seeming state of near-perpetual equilibrium compared with other more volatile regions studied in the report, including most obviously the United States.

“The results of this year’s Emerging Trends report reflects the fact that the Canadian real estate community understands real estate fundamentals and knows how to react to fluctuations in monetary policy and capital markets. Canada’s real estate industry continues to operate well despite uncertainties in domestic and global economies,” said Lori-Ann Beausoleil, PwC Canada’s Real Estate Leader.

The report said Calgary’s expanding economy is requiring a larger and more highly-skilled workforce. Employment forecasts indicate growth of 2.8 per cent next year and 2.9 per cent in 2014.

“This growth, driven mostly by the oil and gas industry, has made it challenging to acquire high-quality real estate in this market,” said the report.

“Absorption of prime properties has reached record levels and rents are continuing to be pushed due to limited supply.”

The report said potential approvals of controversial pipeline projects to the United States and into British Columbia would boost real estate construction projects further in Calgary.

The strength of Calgary’s real estate market is evident in both the residential and non-residential sectors.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, year-to-date as of Monday, total MLS sales in the city of 18,905 are up 15.56 per cent from the same period last year.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is forecasting total housing starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area to finish at 12,400 units this year, an increase of more than 33 per cent from 2011 and the highest level since 2007.

RealNet Canada recently said Calgary has experienced the second best ever year for commercial real estate transactions for the first nine months of the year with $3.394 billion in sales so far this year.

And a recent report by Jones Lang LaSalle suggested a downtown office development boom in Calgary could be on the horizon.