Thursday, April 10, 2014


More Albertans willing to brave rising prices and purchase a home
People confident in getting into the real estate market
By Mario Toneguzzi 
Calgary Herald April 10, 2014 

CALGARY - Despite high real estate prices, Albertans have a renewed interest in buying a home, according to the 21st Annual RBC Home Ownership Poll.

The poll, which was released Thursday, said the number of those intending to buy a home in the province is up from 22 per cent in 2013 to 28 per cent this year, “showing a renewed strength in the market from last year.”

“We saw a drop in purchasing intent last year in Alberta, so this renewed intent in 2014 shows that people in the province are confident in their ability to get into the market and invest in a home,” said Don Peard, regional vice president and mortgage specialist with RBC.

“There’s a couple of key factors. Number one being, certainly we were predicting a year ago and even more than that an increase in interest rates and that really hasn't transpired. Even if it does transpire, I don’t believe it will be as severe as some people were anticipating. That’s a huge factor in affordability and certainly impacts peoples’ intent to purchase.”

Peard said discussion about the levels of consumer debt has had an impact on peoples’ savings habits with better results in recent years, which means they are able to have enough money for down-payments.

“And of course in Alberta, comparatively speaking, affordability still remains very well particularly when we compare pricing and affordability with other larger centres in Canada. Alberta still remains very affordable. There’s no question the intent to purchase has increased,” said Peard.

Recently, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Alberta will lead the country with the highest annual growth rate in prices over the next two years in the resale housing market.

It said average MLS sale prices will climb in the province by 3.9 per cent this year to $396,000 and by another 2.5 per cent in 2015 to $406,000.

The association said Alberta will see annual sales activity increase by 0.8 per cent this year to 66,600 and then lead the country in 2015 with 3.9 per cent growth to 69,200 sales.

In February, MLS sales were up by 1.8 per cent year-over-year in Alberta to 4,595 and the average MLS sale price saw a yearly increase of 7.6 per cent in the province to $407,540.

“The volatility and fluctuations in some of the other larger Canadian cities we just don’t experience that in Alberta. There’s good, solid general appreciation in home values but it’s certainly not big spikes and bubbles,” said Peard.

“Lots of fear and talk of real estate bubbles in the past two or three or four years and I think the general consensus now is that’s really probably not going to happen at all and there’s lots of good empirical data to support that and we've seen good positive changes in the Vancouver and Toronto markets and of course we’re just that much more fortunate here in Alberta with having one of the best economies in the country.”

Photo By: Danielle Nanni

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Buoyant economy fueling Calgary condo growth
Sales and new construction expected to rise in next two years
By Mario Toneguzzi 
Calgary Herald April 2, 2014 

CALGARY - Calgary’s buoyant economy, healthy population growth and excellent affordability will keep sales of existing condominiums rising over the next few years, says a new housing report released Wednesday.

The latest Conference Board of Canada condo report, released by Genworth Canada, said good demand will also lift condo starts in the city following a pullback in 2013 that was at least partly due to flooding in the summer.

The Winter 2014 Metropolitan Condo Outlook forecast Calgary to see the best growth in prices this year, for eight cities studied, for the resale condo market with median prices rising by 3.2 per cent to $260,523.

The report said they will rise a further 3.4 per cent in 2015 to $269,508.

“A strong economy is first and foremost and everything kind of spins off that,” said Robin Wiebe, senior economist at the Centre for Municipal Studies at the conference board, of the reasons for the optimism in the Calgary market. “When the economy is strong, people come there, come out for work, and that sets in motion the whole housing chain. Starts and resales and all the rest of it.”

The report forecast resale apartment condo sales would be up 2.9 per cent this year to 4,507 units and increase by 2.1 per cent next year to 4,601 units.

Wiebe said affordability in Calgary is a factor. The city has the highest average household income among the report’s eight cities and Calgary’s apartments are not particularly expensive with a median price below Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria and Vancouver.

“That makes housing affordability in Calgary excellent,” he said.

The report forecast new condo apartment starts of 2,601 this year, up 6.9 per cent, followed by 2,680 in 2015, up by 3.0 per cent.

It said 2013’s absorptions of 2,772 was the most since 2008 “and likely would have been even stronger were it not for the floods.”

“Accordingly, the inventory of newly completed and unoccupied apartments fell to 244 units - a marked improvement from inventories of nearly 600 units in 2010. Absorptions are forecast to pull back in 2014, but remain strong at nearly 2,400 units,” said the report.

“Modest absorption gains during the medium term are forecast to keep trimming inventories - they will dip below their 20-year average in the projection’s outer years. Falling inventories will give builders the confidence to boost housing starts.”

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, condo apartment MLS sales in the resale market totaled 1,062 after the first quarter. Sales growth was strongest in this sector due to the availability of listings, it said. New listings after the first quarter totaled 1,722, an 18 per cent increase over the previous year. While demand continued to outpace listing growth, keeping market conditions relatively tight, inventory levels are similar to the previous year, said the board.

“Nearly 50 per cent of new listings in the apartment sector are priced in the range of $200,000 - $299,999, providing options for those looking for affordable product,” said Bill Kirk, CREB’s president.

For the first quarter of this year, the average MLS sale price for condo apartments in Calgary is $317,855, up 9.03 per cent from the same period last year.

“Some easing of the supply pressure in the condominium market is expected as new construction projects are completed,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist. “However, thanks to Calgary’s strong economy, it is expected that most new supply can be absorbed without risk of oversupply and condominium price correction.”

Photo By: Toni Holopainen