Balanced Housing Market

Wed, 17 Nov by Georgina Burkholder

By REUTERS, , Updated: November 15, 2010 10:57 AM

Canada home re-sales rise, balanced conditions seen


TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian home re-sales were firmer for a third straight month in October, suggesting a soft landing for the once red-hot sector and stable market conditions for the next two years, industry reports said on Monday.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said 35,714 homes changed hands in October, up 4.6 percent from September, as sales rose in three-quarters of the markets tracked by the association. However, sales were down 21.6 percent from a year earlier.

“If you’ve ever wondered what a soft landing in housing looks like, this may well be it. The string of three consecutive gains in monthly sales helps confirm a stabilization of market activity,” said Pascal Gauthier, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“The last three months of data suggest that a trough in resale housing activity may have formed earlier than we expected. Heading into 2011, sales and prices appear better supported than we last forecast in September.”

Gauthier said that, even if sales held steady at October levels for the rest of the year, it would still mark a near 10 percent improvement from the third quarter.

CREA said sales activity in October stood half way between the recessionary low reached in December 2008, and the record level activity posted in December 2009, offering further evidence that the market is returning to normal.

The number of new listings rose 1.3 percent in October from September.

“National sales activity and new listings have swung widely but synchronously, which has kept the market in balanced territory since the spring,” CREA said.

The industry group said the national average price in October rose 0.7 percent from a year earlier to C$343,747 ($340,344).

Separately, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) said it expects housing starts to continue to moderate in the last quarter of 2010, and decline in 2011.

Housing starts are expected to total 186,200 units this year, then slip to around 174,800 units in 2011, the federal housing agency said.

CMHC also noted that the market conditions for sales of existing homes will remain balanced over the next two years as sales ease and inventory levels remain elevated.

It expects existing home sales of 440,300 units this year, dropping to about 438,400 in 2011. With an improved balance between demand and supply, the average price is expected to edge up in 2011.

The forecast compares to CREA’s forecast, which earlier this month said it sees sales of 442,200 units in 2010, and then falling 9 percent to 402,500 units next year.

CMHC also said rising employment levels and low mortgage rates will continue to support demand for new homes in 2011, but new home construction will be at a slower pace.

It sees housing starts of 186,200 units in 2010, slipping to 174,800 next year.


Condo Project

Wed, 10 Nov by Georgina Burkholder

 This speaks volumns about how investors view Calgary Real Estate.

Calgary condo project sells out first two towers

Registration for next phases begins


Jennifer Carter, sales manager of the University City condo project, shows artist rendering of two planned towers.

CALGARY – The University City new highrise condo project, planned for the Brentwood LRT station, has completely sold out the first two phases of the development.

Now registration has begun for the next two phases of the transit oriented development across from the University of Calgary.

On the weekend, Phase 1 of the project, a 216-unit, 18-storey residential tower, and Phase 2, another 216-residence, 18-storey tower, sold out. As of today the project’s website shows no availability of units in the first two phases.

It also invites potential buyers to register for sales for phases 3 and 4.

Zee Zebian, marketing manager for the project, said all sales have been halted “because we need to catch up on the paperwork.”

“If any units come back, they’ll come back (for sale),” he said. “But right now we’re completely sold out.”

He said he expects interest to be high for the other phases of the project as well.

The University City project, a master-planned new community located across from the University of Calgary at the Brentwood LRT Station, will eventually consist of five buildings with a total of 600 to 700 residences.

The first building will be ready for occupancy about late December 2012.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project will be 18-storey towers followed by 12 and 14-storey towers in Phase 3 and Phase 4, and four storeys in Phase 5.

Studio units are priced from $159,900; one bedroom units from $175,900; and two bedroom units from $189,900.

The project is being developed by Metropia, Knightsbridge Homes Ltd., and RioCan.

University City is considered a Transit Oriented Development with the City of Calgary.

As of September, there were 976 condo apartment starts so far this year in Calgary compared with 184 for the same period a year ago.

The number of complete and unoccupied units in September was 707, up from 342 units in September 2009.

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Stampede Park Expansion

Wed, 10 Nov by Georgina Burkholder

 Nice to see a project like this going forward. Will be a great addition to condo dwellers and inner city life!

Calgary Stampede Park moves ahead with $400-million expansion


 CALGARY – With the economic recession behind us, Calgary’s Stampede Park is moving forward with its $400-million expansion and redevelopment that will be completed within the next three years or so, the Herald has learned.

“By 2014, this will be a uniquely different place,” said Warren Connell, vice-president of park development and operations for the Calgary Stampede.

The multi-million dollar construction includes Stampede Trail (a mainstreet retail and entertainment development), a new agriculture arena and exhibit hall, the River Park area along the Elbow River, and a youth campus part of Stampede Park.

“When the economic downturn hit, the Stampede was obviously right in the midst of a number of projects,” said Connell. “We were in the process of completing the (BMO) Centre.

“We were dealing with a major sponsor on the River Park (area). Luckily for us we were close enough to being completed that the (BMO) Centre didn’t suffer financially. It was sponsored to a large part by the government of Alberta. However the River Park sponsor did walk away and say at least for the immediate future they would not be launching into any new projects. That was disheartening to us.”

In June 2008, the Stampede expected its major expansion and redevelopment to be completed by 2011. In June 2009, it expected completion by 2012-2013.

But the downturn in the economy delayed the process. Now, the Stampede is back on track to move ahead with its plans.

Connell said the Stampede is 70 per cent complete on relocating infrastructure pieces to a back of house area. Construction of the River Park area in the northeast quadrant of the park will begin after the Stampede in July.

“We do not have all the funding in place but the one advantage to having a green park is you can start doing chunks as the funding is available. We’re still working on everything from sponsorship to grants and fundraising,” said Connell.

He said the Stampede has just received development permit approval for a new agriculture arena and exhibit hall which it is calling the Western Event Centre. It has a $25-million grant from the federal government plus private donations and fundraising for more money to go ahead with the project.

Construction of the arena will start following the 2012 Stampede to be completed in 2014 prior to the Stampede.

Public space is being developed near the agriculture building as access to the River Park area which will house Indian Village in the future.

Alberta Development Partners, based in Denver, is working on the mainstreet retail development along the current Olympic Way which leads into Stampede Park and will include Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant.

A spokesperson for ADP would not comment on the project when contacted on Tuesday. But the company’s website says the project includes 150,000 square feet of retail space, 100,000 square feet of office space, a 300-room hotel, and public gathering places.

Connell said it is currently in the development permit process.

“They are hoping to do utility work this spring and start construction on their project post-Stampede this year – the actual buildings,” said Connell. “That will be a two-year process. So they would be open in June of 2013.”

The proposed Stampede Trail restaurant cluster and associated retail shops will be in perfect synergy with the constant stream of traffic generating attractions at Stampede Park, said Michael Kehoe, an Alberta-based retail specialist with Fairfield Commercial Real Estate Inc.

“This type of themed development in the shadow of major draws like the Saddledome is prevalent across North America as major league sports teams and their owners capitalize on consumers seeking a unique food service and shopping experience.”

A 1,000-stall parkade near the Stampede Park entrance will be completed prior to the 2012 Stampede. The Stampede will relocate its current headquarters some time in 2012 further up the street to allow the current building to be demolished and to allow the remaining phase of mainstreet to be constructed between 2012 and 2013.

There is also a youth campus area in the northeast part of the Park that will be developed in the coming years and host several groups. Stampede Park is currently working on the first phase of the area.

By the Banks of the Bow sculpture – the largest bronze sculpture in Western Canada if not all of Canada – will be set up in the middle of the Park by 2012 and include 15 large horses.

The 4th Street underpass will link East Village to Olympic Way and will be completed by 2012.

Connell said the 17th Avenue S.E. crossing which would link the park to 17th Avenue through a roadway is still being pursued but no timeline for that has materialized. Future plans also call for looking at the potential relocation of the Coca-Cola Stage to where Indian Village currently resides. Another hall is also planned for the BMO Centre in the future.

And the Saddledome?

“All I can officially say is that the Calgary Flames have been dealing with us on a potential site for a new arena. The Calgary Flames are working out their own details with respect to the facility itself, fundraising and so on,” said Connell. “As far as having agreed to a site, we have not but the two organizations are certainly talking.”

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Home Sales

Tue, 02 Nov by Georgina Burkholder

Surprising Decline In October Home Sales


MLS sales continue to soften

October wasn’t the ideal month to sell a home in Calgary.

In fact, MLS sales plunged during the month compared with last year and were at low levels in relation to historical averages.

So despite the slow period in the local real estate market, Liliana Vargas was surprised her townhouse in Garrison Woods sold so quickly during the month.

She and her husband had owned the home for more than five years. During the peak of the real estate market, they bought another house but couldn’t sell the townhouse. So they kept it and it became a rental property last year.

They tried to sell the home in 2007 and again last year with no luck. This time the property sold in 29 days through realtor Donna Rooney.

“The price was really competitive compared to what other properties were listed for in the area,” said Vargas.

“It went by very quickly.”

Many other properties in Calgary did not in October as residential MLS sales dropped sharply compared with a year ago and average sale prices also dipped slightly in the past 12 months.

According to data released by the Calgary Real Estate Board on Monday, there were only 888 single-family MLS transactions last month for an average sale price of $444,744.

In October 2009 there were 1,285 sales for an average price of $462,465.

October sales were the second-lowest level for the month in the past decade — behind 2008’s 820 transactions.

“Buyers remain cautious, perhaps waiting to feel a little more confidence in Calgary’s economic growth and their own job security,” said Diane Scott, CREB’s president.

The condominium market experienced weak sales in October with only 310 transactions — the lowest level for the month since 1999, when only 308 condos sold. The average price was $287,793, down slightly from October 2009’s $289,155 average on 601 sales.

“The pace of sales continues to moderate,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. “Some sales were pushed forward earlier in the year when rates were expected to rise. Demand is also becoming more dependent on employment and net migration activity.

“It is not unusual to see some fluctuations in the average on a month-over-month basis, depending on the mix of homes sold. Considering that we are in a buyers’ market, prices are generally expected to soften.”

The month-end inventory of single-family homes for sale stood at 4,528 units, up from 3,003 last October, while there were 2,042 active listings in the condo market at month end compared with 1,482 a year ago.

Scott said Calgary is seeing some decline in the number of new listings coming onto the market and a continuing decline in supply will help bring the market into balance.

“We believe we will see a tempering of our inventory levels as some sellers offer marginal reductions in prices or others choose to pull their home off the market for a period of time,” said Scott.

She said the real estate board is cautiously optimistic about the city’s economic recovery moving into 2011, but in-migration will be needed to fuel a sustained recovery in the local housing market.

David Allwright, associate dean of the Bissett School of Business with Mount Royal University, said he was surprised by October’s low sales numbers.

“I think there’s been a lot of shakeout in the market for the last couple of years in terms of people settling into a house that they could comfortably afford,” he said.

“I think that a lot of the movement that you saw . . . prior to 2008, and a lot of exiting the market after that, reflects how people’s incomes have changed with layoffs.

“But it’s surprising it would be this low this year. I would have thought that there’d be some levelling. Clearly there’s more going on in the market than that.”

In the towns outside Calgary market, sales fell by 37.16 per cent from a year ago to 230 transactions for an average sale price of $358,848, which was down 3.77 per cent.

In the country residential market, which includes acreages, sales were off by 6.67 per cent to 56 transactions and an average price of $653,921, down 14.69 per cent from a year ago.

– – –

Resale Housing Transactions

October 2010 September 2010 October 2009

Single-Family Homes

Sales 888 958 1,285

Average Sale Price $444,744 $460,278 $462,465

Median Sale Price $387,900 $390,000 $410,000


Sales 310 366 601

Average Sale Price $287,793 $284,028 $289,155

Median Sale Price $255,000 $265,000 $263,500

Source: Calgary Real Estate Board

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The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Calgary Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.