Calgary home price growth doubles national average: CREA – Year-over-year hike of 8.82% best in Canada

Calgary year-over-year home price growth was the best in Canada in November and more than doubled the national average, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

The association’s MLS Home Price Index, released on Monday, said prices in Calgary have risen by 8.82 per cent from a year ago while in Canada, for 11 major centres surveyed, they were up by 4.11 per cent.

The index tracks benchmark prices in Canada’s housing markets.

CREA said MLS sales across Canada in November rose by 5.9 per cent to 32,411 units. They were up by 18.7 per cent in Calgary to 2,173 units and increased by 13.1 per cent in Alberta to 4,563 sales.

The average sale price in Canada was up by 9.8 per cent to $391,085 and increased by 7.5 per cent in Calgary to $445,114 and by 5.3 per cent in Alberta to $385,217.

CREA also released a revised residential market forecast on Monday. It said sales in Alberta this year are projected to reach 66,300 units, which is a 9.8 per cent hike from the previous year and the best growth rate in the country. Sales will rise an additional 3.5 per cent in 2014 to 68,600 units.

Across Canada, the association is forecasting 0.8 per cent growth this year to 458,200 sales and 3.7 per cent growth in 2014 to 475,000.

As for the average sale price, CREA is projecting it to rise by 4.9 per cent this year in Alberta to $381,100 followed by 3.4 per cent growth, the best in Canada, in 2014 to $393,900.

Across Canada, the association is forecasting 5.2 per cent price growth this year to $382,200 and 2.3 per cent growth in 2014 to $391,100.

“In staggering contrast to the dire forecasts early this year, precisely one of the 26 largest cities in the country has reported a drop in average prices so far this year — Victoria, with a minuscule 0.6 per cent sag,” said Doug Porter, chief economist with BMO Capital Markets. “All of the other 25 cities have recorded single-digit price gains, with the median city posting a non-threatening 3.6 per cent rise.

“When judged by total sales volumes, a measure that combines both price changes and the number of units sold, the hottest markets this year have been Calgary, Edmonton, and, against all expectations Vancouver. All three reported double-digit volume increases, the only cities in that category.”


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

December weather not deterring Calgary homebuyers – MLS sales on the rise while listings fall

The weather outside may be frightful but it hasn’t had an impact on December’s residential real estate market in Calgary as sales continue to outpace last year’s numbers.

In fact, despite recent winter storms, with their dropping temperatures and dumps of snow, sales in the city are actually higher than new listings this month making it a strong sellers’ market right now.

Bryon Howard, realtor with RE/MAX House of Real Estate in Calgary, said the city’s real estate market currently is characterized by a lack of inventory and good demand.

“We’re seeing multiple offers. Anything that’s priced well is selling,” he said. “The market’s great.

“I think for certain you’ll see prices move up this month.”

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, total MLS sales in the city so far this month, up until Thursday, were 546 transactions, up 14.95 per cent from the same period a year ago. New listings of 511 are up by 1.19 per cent. Active listings of 2,865 are down 18.77 per cent.

The tight market has pushed sale prices higher this month than a year ago. The median price of $406,000 is up by 7.98 per cent while the average sale price has risen by 0.91 per cent to $457,758.

“We’re in a strong seller’s market,” said Howard. “We have no reason to think that’s going to change based on everything we know in terms of in-migration to the province and Alberta (economic) forecasts. It shouldn’t change too much.”

Howard said that while many people think nothing happens in real estate in the month of December he’s always felt it was a good month to sell.

According to CREB, the last time the city has had more sales than listings was December 2012. Before that, it was 2006. Right now, it’s looking like this December will be the 12th time since 1990 when sales eclipse new listings and seven of those have been in December.

The highest-ever sales-to-new-listing ratio was December 2005 with 1.299 sales for every listing. This year it’s sitting in fourth overall at 1.140.

So far this year, November has had the highest sales-to-new-listings ratio at 0.95.

The record for the average MLS sale price in December was set last year at $436,899 when there were 1,082 transactions for the month.

The record for total MLS sales during December was set in 2006 at 1,718 transactions.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary housing prices forecast to stabilize in 2014

The Calgary Real Estate Board is forecasting house prices and sales to continue to grow in the resale market in 2014.

On Tuesday, the board released its preliminary forecast, saying prices are expected to rise by 4.3 per cent next year and MLS sales are expected to climb by 3.6 per cent from 2013.

Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist, said strong migration levels over the past two years have combined with strong employment and wage growth to support further gains in 2014.

According to the board, year-to-date up to Monday, there have been 22,710 MLS sales in the city which is a 10.97 per cent hike from the same period a year ago. The median price has risen by 5.30 per cent to $400,150 while the average sale price is up by 6.51 per cent to $456,762.

Lurie said both sales and price growth this year exceeded expectations.

CREB’s full annual forecast takes place January 15.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary region housing starts soar in November – New home construction up 71% from last year

Housing starts in the Calgary region soared in November, sparked by a surge in new multi-family construction, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The agency reported Monday that total starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area jumped by 71 per cent from a year ago to 1,693 units during the month.

Multi-family construction rose by 129.2 per cent year-over-year to 1,098 units while single-detached starts were up 16.4 per cent to 595 units.

“There was an elevated level on residential construction in November, primarily due to higher row and apartment starts,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary with CMHC. “Relatively low inventories and continued demand for housing has contributed to the gains recorded last month.

“Despite the increase, multi-family starts in 2013 are forecast to remain below 2012 levels, but rebound in 2014. Multi-family starts in 2014 are forecast to rise, reaching 6,600 units.”

CMHC said housing starts were trending at 13,949 units in November compared with 12,547 in October. The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally-adjusted annual rates of total housing starts.

“The trend in total housing starts increased in November for the fifth consecutive month, primarily due to an elevated level of multi-family construction,” said Cho.

Year-to-date, total starts in the Calgary region of 11,688 are down by 2.4 per cent compared with the same period last year. Multi-family construction is down by 12.9 per cent to 5,701 units but single-detached starts have risen by 10.2 per cent to 5,987 units.

Nationally, housing starts fell three per cent in November to 192,200 annualized units.

“Alberta, however, surged to just shy of the best level since early 2008 — starts in that province are up 7.1 per cent year-over-year through November, best in Canada, as demand and price trends continue to outperform,” said Robert Kavcic, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets.

According to CMHC, total urban starts in Alberta year-to-date are 30,141, up from 28,481 for the same period last year. Single-detached starts have risen to 15,035 from 13,973 last year while multi-family starts have jumped to 15,106 this year from 14,508 last year.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Staying put: More than half of homeowners in floodways reject offers to relocate

Close to 60 per cent of Alberta homeowners who live in provincially designated floodways have rejected the government’s offer to relocate their homes, according to new figures released Monday.

The province wrapped up its application period for disaster recovery funding for flood-affected homeowners and businesses on Nov. 30.

By deadline, close to 10,000 Albertans applied for funding, including 1,380 small businesses.

The province has so far paid out almost $175 million in preliminary disaster relief to help municipalities and First Nations start to rebuild.

According to the province, 101 homeowners who live in areas designated floodways — about 40 per cent of the total 254 homes — have expressed interest in the province’s offer to relocate.

So far, 46 offers have been accepted, at a price tag of $42 million.

The policy has come under criticism from some flood-affected homeowners inside and outside the floodway zone who question the maps it’s based on and how effective it will be if only a home here or there takes up the offer to move.

Homeowners who reject the offer won’t receive DRP support if another flood strikes down the road.

Other provincial flood statistics highlights:

— More than 9,860 Albertans have applied for funding through DRP. The province will accept applications postmarked by the November 30 deadline.

— More than 7,600 DRP applicants have had at least one on-site assessment.

— Nearly 4,000 DRP payments have been issued to applicants totalling close to $25 million.

— More than 2,100 DRP applications are on hold awaiting assessments from insurance companies.

— There are just over 1,000 people still out of their homes and living in temporary accommodation, including:

— 565 in the Saddlebrook temporary neighbourhood in High River;

— 69 in the Great Plains temporary neighbourhood in Calgary;

— 326 in relief shelters on the Siksika First Nation; and,

— 49 people in hotels or other accommodations.

— Of the 985 kilometres of provincial roads closed due to flood damage, 909 kilometres (92 per cent) have reopened.

— Three schools remain closed due to flood damage, affecting about 900 students. In High River, 42 modular classrooms are in use by about 700 students. Twelve more modular classrooms have been completed in Calgary and will soon accommodate about 200 more students.

— Over 500 submissions have been made to the Heroes of the Flood program. The deadline for nominations is December 20, 2013.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Low inventory pushes up Calgary house prices in November

 A low inventory of active listings combined with increased sales has pushed Calgary home prices once again in an upward direction to a record high in November.

Statistics from the Calgary Real Estate Board indicate MLS sales in November rose by 18.74 per cent year-over-year to 1,730 transactions with the average sale price increasing by 5.56 per cent to $458,053 and the median price climbing by 8.50 per cent to $406,875.

The average sale price is a record for the month, eclipsing the $433,931 set in November 2012. The all-time high for any month is $466,495 in June this year.

Although new listings rose by 11.70 per cent to 1,823, active listings at the end of the month of 3,156 were down 17.62 per cent from a year ago. And days on the market to sell a home fell by 22 per cent to 39.

“Throughout the fall we have seen the market stay consistently strong as it has for the rest of 2013, with quick sales turnover and a low inventory of homes actively on the market. Coming into the winter months and even into the new year it doesn’t look like the market’s going to slow down backed by Calgary’s striving economy,” said Megan McCormick, realtor with Century 21 Bamber Realty Ltd.

“Prices and sales have continued to quickly rise with a large majority of new homeowners joining the marketplace, many leaving the tight rental market sooner than anticipated. A booming economy, record high employment rates, and homeowners being displaced by the flood are also pushing this high demand of Calgary homebuyers.”

According to Mike Fotiou, associate broker with First Place Realty, November set another record for luxury home sales as 50 properties sold in the $1-million plus price range, breaking the monthly record of 48 set last year. It’s the 10th straight month of a new monthly peak.

Fotiou said there have been 689 luxury home sales this year until the end of November, up 36.4 per cent from the 505 recorded for the same period in 2012. The previous annual record was 544 set last year.

In November, CREB’s stats show single-family home sales were up 18.99 per cent to 1,197 with the median price rising by 8.33 per cent to $455,000 and the average sale price increasing by 5.76 per cent to $516,447.

The condo apartment category saw sales of 305 during the month, up 20.55 per cent from last year. The median price rose by 3.85 per cent to $270,000 but the average sale price dropped by 1.1 per cent to $307,078.

In the condo townhouse category, sales increased 15.15 per cent from last year to 228. The median price was up 7.15 per cent to $310,150 and the average sale price rose by 12.07 per cent to $353,445.

Sales in the towns outside of Calgary rose by 17.78 per cent to 318 with the median price up by 8.64 per cent to $368,250 and the average sale price up by 15.61 per cent to $392,022.

CREB tracks what it calls benchmark prices for typical properties sold in the market. The benchmark prices in November with their year-over-year change were: total MLS city, $424,600, 9.21 per cent; towns, $347,900, 5.62 per cent; single-family, $470,600; 8.53 per cent; condo apartment, $279,600, 12.74 per cent; and condo townhouse, $305,700, 8.10 per cent.

Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist, said the low inventory in the Calgary residential market is a result of continued strong sales.

“It’s continued to push down inventory,” she said. “The level of new listings adds to supply and it hasn’t kept pace . . . Basically demand hasn’t let up.

“Another factor is also what’s happening in the new home sector. When you do tend to see inventory start to increase significantly sometimes it’s because there’s just too much in the new home market too . . . But because we’ve had such a strong influx of people and there’s been enough demand, even what they’re doing in the new home sector isn’t enough to push up inventory levels.”

Scott Bollinger, broker with the ComFree Commonsense Network, said what’s really striking about this month’s numbers is the big drop in inventory.

“New listings are up, for sure, but not enough to close the gap,” he said.

“Fall – well, let’s be honest, winter – timing is partly what’s at play here. It’s a low-volume time for Calgary real estate and even the bullish numbers can’t coax homeowners by the thousands into selling when it’s cold and snowy, especially when they’re confident the market will be just as strong in the spring. Most homeowners don’t want to sell and move during the winter, and that’s as good a reason as any that low inventory will persist till the snow melts.”


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Choosing the correct window – Many wonder which is best but there is no easy answer

There’s no simple answer to how to choose the correct windows, but here are some things you should watch for.

Windows serve three purposes: They provide light, airflow and ventilation. But they should also help keep the heat out in the summer and in during the winter. That has to do with R-value — in other words, insulation — and the air-tightness around the window itself.

Every window leaks heat. You can have the best windows on the market — triple-paned, double low-E coatings — but they will not have the same insulation value as an insulated wood or concrete wall; no matter how thermally efficient they are.

The trend today is to increase the size of your windows, not to mention the number of windows in a home. People love natural light. But at the same time we need to make sure the windows are improving the house — not working against it.

Heat loss and gain through windows accounts for about half of our heating and cooling needs. A poorly installed and/or insulated window is like having a giant hole in your home’s exterior — and you will see the proof in your energy bills.

When it comes to window choice, there are several options, which can be overwhelming for some homeowners.

It used to be that all you could get were single-paned windows — those are windows that have just one sheet of glass. Now you can get windows that are double- or triple-paned, windows with argon or krypton gas, low-E coatings in between the panes — and different combinations of each, like low-E double-paned windows or low-E triple-paned windows with argon gas.

What’s the difference? For starters, a double-paned window has two layers of glass; triple-paned has three. Multiple layers of glass allow for insulation to go in between the panes, and that boosts the R-value.

The most common types of insulation are argon or krypton gas. Both help stop heat transfer. Krypton insulates better than argon but it’s also more expensive. If you have the budget, it’s a good investment. However, argon-gas-filled windows are still very good; if a home has these windows, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

If you’re not the original owner of your home, you might not know if your windows are gas filled. When you bought the house the previous owners would have probably told you, since they do make for better windows and cost more.

But if you want to make sure you can check the window tag. It’s usually on the bottom inside track of the window.

You can also try looking for two small holes on the spacer — one hole is where the gas would have been injected, and the other hole is for air to exit.

Another feature to look for is low-E glass, or low-emissivity glass. This is a microscopic metallic-oxide coating on the glass that lets in light but also helps stop heat — and ultraviolet rays — from transferring through the window.

Sometimes heat transfer is a good thing. In the winter, we want the sun to help heat our homes. But I’ve heard some homeowners complain about turning up their furnace more often after installing triple-paned windows. That’s because some windows do an excellent job at stopping heat transfer.

However, just like they help stop heat from escaping your home, they also don’t let the natural heat from the sun come in.

One option is to have triple-paned windows on the north side of the house only, and then double-paned on the rest. This provides the extra insulation needed to help block north winds, but still allows some heat to get in on all the other sides. It’s a tricky balance, which is why you should talk to a pro.

Once you’ve decided on the type of glass you want, you have to choose the framing. The most common are wood, metal — and vinyl, which tends to last longer and is easier to clean.

Metal can get scratched and dented. Wood is nice but requires a lot of maintenance; you will need to repaint your window framing at least every five years, and that’s if it’s done really well. The natural expansion and contraction of the wood frame can crack the paint. The basic rule of thumb is that if you can see the wood, the frame needs to be re-caulked and re-painted.

What type of window is the best? Most people want an easy answer. But like most things, there is no easy answer. It depends on the house and the application.

The key to making the right choice is finding a professional who will know what type of windows will work best for your home, and who will make sure they are properly installed.


Original source article: Choosing the correct window

Calgary new condo sales continue to climb – Transactions up 11.5 per cent from last year

An Altus Group report says new condominium sales in Calgary have jumped by 11.5 per cent so far this year compared with a year ago.

The new report said sales reached 2,555 units between January and September compared with 2,292 for the same period a year ago.

It said 4,327 new condo units were under construction at the end of September, up from 4,263 a year ago but starts were down to 1,537 from 2,780 last year.

Completed but unabsorbed units at the end of September was 131 compared with 232 last year.

“Demand for condominium units has increased this year, supported by a variety of factors,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. “Many first-time homebuyers have made the move into homeownership this year with the purchase of a condominium unit. Condo units on average are priced lower compared to single-detached homes, making them an attractive option for many of these buyers.

“However, first-time homebuyers are not the only ones who have demanded condo units. Those looking to downsize, and move to a more maintenance-free lifestyle have also supported demand for condo units, as well as investors. The decline in the vacancy rate, and rising rents, has increased the incentive for investors to purchase units to rent out. Collectively, these factors have contributed to the rise in condo sales this year.”

He said sales in the resale market are forecast to rise this year and next. Employment levels in Calgary are anticipated to further rise in 2014, along with income. Positive net migration will also support housing activity in 2014.

Year-to-date until Thursday, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board, there have been 3,762 MLS condo apartment sales in the city’s resale housing market, up 15.19 per cent from a year ago with an average sale price of $299,725 and a median price of $262,000. Those prices have increased by 5.72 per cent and 4.54 per cent, respectively from last year.

There have been 2,990 condo townhouse sales, up 21.45 per cent from a year ago, with the average sale price rising by 7.69 per cent to $341,531 and the median price up 5.90 per cent to $305,000.

In contrast, the year-to-date average sale price for a single-family home in Calgary has climbed by 7.69 per cent to $517,383 and the median price has gone up by 8.46 per cent to $450,000.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist with CREB, said affordability is playing a key role in the increased sales in Calgary’s condo market this year.

“It offers that niche that hasn’t been there certainly in the single-family. We’ve seen the availability in product in the single-family under a certain price range just start to disappear,” she said.

Another factor, she said, was the tight rental market in the city.

“A lot of people in the rental market tend to be first-time homebuyers. With the rental market being as tight as it is and expectations of rental rate increases further impacted by the flood a lot of them moved into homeownership sooner. And lot of them tend to go toward that more affordable product in the condo market,” added Lurie.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary homebuyer demand ‘supercharged,’ says RBC report

Homebuyer demand in Calgary has been “supercharged” by a booming economy, says the latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report released Wednesday by RBC Economics Research.

The report said modest deterioration in housing affordability in the Calgary area in the third quarter “is likely to be taken in stride by local homebuyers, because they still benefit from some of the lower ownership costs as a share of household income in Canada.”

The report said RBC’s affordability measures increased for all housing categories — between 0.2 percentage points and 0.7 percentage points. But it said the levels continue to be below the national and historical averages.

“Favourable affordability conditions primarily reflect high household income in Calgary rather than low home prices given that home prices in the area are among the more expensive in the country,” said the report. “While affordability is constructive for homebuyer demand, the more powerful factors driving it, no doubt, are Calgary’s hot labour market and fast-rising population, both supercharged by a booming provincial economy.

“Home resales surged to their highest level in six years in the area. The fact that this occurred despite the worst floods in memory at the end of June is quite telling of the market’s strength at this stage.”

The report said affordability levels in Alberta remained relatively attractive in the third quarter, with measures standing below their historical averages and the national averages.

“Alberta’s strong provincial economy and rapidly rising population continue to fuel housing market activity – third quarter home resales increased by 7.8 per cent from the second quarter, the fastest pace in nearly three years,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist of RBC, in a statement. “The province’s unrelenting economic boom bodes well for continued solid housing market conditions next year.”

RBC’s housing affordability measures capture the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home at market values.

In Alberta, RBC’s measure for bungalows rose by 0.6 percentage points to 32.5 per cent, and the measure for two-storey homes rose 0.2 percentage points to 34.6 per cent. The measure for condominiums increased slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 19.6 per cent.

In Calgary, the measure rose by 0.7 percentage points to 33.7 per cent points for bungalows, 0.4 percentage points to 34 per cent for two-storey homes, and 0.2 percentage points to 19.6 per cent for condominiums.

In Canada, RBC’s measure for detached bungalows rose 0.7 percentage points to 43.3 per cent, while the measure for two-storey homes climbed 0.6 percentage points to 48.9 per cent. The measure for standard condominiums edged only slightly higher by 0.1 percentage points to 28.0 per cent.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Unfilled jobs in Alberta above national average – 287,400 jobs went unfilled in Canada in the third quarter

Alberta’s rate of unfilled private sector jobs continued to be above the national average in the third quarter of this year, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

In its Help Wanted report, which was released Tuesday, the CFIB said there were about 287,400 full and part-time positions unfilled or 2.4 per cent across the country.

It said Saskatchewan had the highest provincial vacancy rate in the country at 4.0 per cent this quarter, up from 3.9 per cent the quarter before. Alberta’s rate was the same at 3.4 per cent.

Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s Alberta director, said there were 54,700 unfilled jobs in the province.

“It’s another indication Alberta has a serious labour shortage in terms of skilled workers,” said Truscott. “So it’s further affirmation that there is indeed an issue, there’s a major problem, and we’ve got to focus on it and try to figure out some strategies to deal with it.”

He said the number of unfilled jobs in the third quarter remained fairly stable but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight in solving the issue.

“This is not a forecast. This is a snapshot of the current state of afffairs,” said Truscott. “But you would imagine just from talking to business owners, and looking at lots of other economic indicators, that this serious shortage of qualified people is going to continue for some time.”

Adam Legge, president and chief executive of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, said the CFIB report reflects the reality of the situation.

“There’s lots of opportunity for labour. There’s still high demand for labour,” said Legge.

He said small business can’t compete with bigger companies from a wage or benefit perspective.

“And so when there are fewer people than there are jobs, they’re going to migrate towards the ones that pay the best or offer the best experience,” he said. “And often small business doesn’t have the resource base to compete on some of those.”

Legge said the labour shortage will continue unless the province experiences challenges to its economy.

Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president, said in a statement that more than half the job vacancies in Canada are in small businesses that employ less than 50 people.

“These firms have unique challenges that make finding and keeping workers with the right skill set more difficult,” he said.

The CFIB said the highest number of job openings in the third quarter was in the retail, hospitality and construction sectors, with over 30,000 potential openings across the country.

Alberta’s unemployment rate in October was 4.4 per cent, the second lowest in Canada behind Saskatchewan’s 3.6 per cent.

According to the Alberta government, employment growth in the province was 74,800 people or 3.5 per cent in the past year. It was the highest annual employment growth in the country and accounted for 35 per cent of Canada’s employment growth.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald