Canadian farmland values reach record levels

Canadian farmland values have reached record levels this year as demand has outpaced supply in most markets, says a report released Tuesday by RE/MAX.

But the report also said lower commodity prices are expected to temper appreciation in the coming months.

The RE/MAX Market Trends Report: Farm Edition 2013, highlighting trends and developments in 17 rural communities throughout Canada, found that limited inventory levels — reported in virtually all agricultural centres — continued to contribute to strong upward pressure on the price per acre in 88 per cent (15/17) of markets examined. Peak commodity values and low interest rates created the ideal climate for expansion over the past 12-month period, spurring unprecedented demand for farmland, said RE/MAX.

It said the price per acre in Central Alberta jumped from $2,000-$4,500 in 2012 to $3,400-$6,500 in 2013 while in Southern Alberta prices moved from $800-$6,500 last year to $800-$8,500 this year.

“The primary drivers in the market continue to be end-users — established farm operators expanding existing operations,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president for RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Be it cashcropper or livestock farmer — the economies of scale continue to support expansion. There are many buyers waiting in the wings, but momentum is hampered to some extent by a shortage of farmland listings.

“Investors — both institutional and individual — are still active in Canadian agricultural centres, but their presence has subsided in recent months.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Value of building permits balloons in Calgary region – Up 116.2% from a year ago

Contractors took out building permits worth $843.9 million in the Calgary region in July, up 56.6 per cent from June, says Statistics Canada.

The federal agency reported Monday that permits were also up 116.2 per cent year-over-year in the Calgary census metropolitan area.

On a monthly basis, residential permits dropped by 4.92 per cent in Calgary to $328.8 million while non-residential permits rose by 166.6 per cent to $515.1 million.

Permits also rose to $1.6 billion in Alberta during July, up 19.1 per cent month-over-month and an increase of 50.1 per cent year-over-year.

In the province, residential permits of $818.8 million rose by 7.3 per cent from June and were up 29.8 per cent from July 2012.

Non-residential permits in Alberta saw a monthly hike of 33.9 per cent to $815.7 million or 78.0 per cent year-over-year.

Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial, said there’s no denying the positive contribution that construction activity has on Alberta’s economy.

“Judging by the most recent statistics on building permits, it appears that our province can anticipate strong construction activity in the coming months,” he said. “July’s soaring building permits were driven mostly by non-residential projects, which jumped to $816 million. On a month-to-month basis, non-residential projects tend to display more volatility than residential permits simply because of the size and scale of certain projects. Commercial construction projects — such as office buildings and shopping centres — made up nearly all of the non-residential permits in July, increasing from $350 million in June to $626 million in July.

“But residential building is charging steadily higher in Alberta as well. Despite warning bells in other parts of Canada about over-valued real estate, Alberta’s home builders are in a more balanced position. House prices are rising, but not out of line with higher demand driven by in-migration and rising wages. That’s encouraging home builders to offer more choices onto the market for potential home buyers.”

Across Canada, Statistics Canada said contractors took out building permits worth $8.0 billion in July, up 20.7 per cent from June. It was the sixth gain in seven months. Year-over-year permits rose by 17.2 per cent.

The monthly total was the highest ever for a month, eclipsing the previous record of $7.7 billion in October 2012.

In the non-residential sector, the total value of building permits rose 45.5 per cent to $3.9 billion in July. It was up 51.9 per cent from last year.

Following a 12.8 per cent decline in June, the total value of permits in the residential sector increased 4.1 per cent to $4.1 billion in July. However, that is off by 3.4 per cent from a year ago.

“Residential permits didn’t regain full vigour, rising 4.1 per cent after a 12.8 per cent drop in June. But non-residential permits recorded a massive gain, led by an 89 per cent rise in commercial permits, across most provinces, with industrial permits also up 11.6 per cent after a huge June drop,” said Avery Shenfeld, chief economist with CIBC World Markets. “Overall, this volatile series still seems to have an upward trend heading into (the third quarter), suggesting that construction will still be a growth contributor in the near term.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald