CALGARY — The Calgary-area housing market remains one of the most affordable in Canada, according to a report released today by RBC Economics Research.

The latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report said the local market has enjoyed the best of all worlds recently: stronger home resales and home building, moderately rising prices, and attractive and improving affordability.

“Such a combination is a rare feat, but it follows years of sluggish performance in the aftermath of the area’s mid-2000s boom,” said the report. “In the second quarter of 2012, a sharp drop in the costs of utilities provided unusual help to affordability in the area. Utilities and property taxes—two small components of home ownership costs—typically do not sway affordability, but the sudden reversal of earlier electricity rate increases led to a substantial 17 per cent quarterly decline in utilities, which was more than enough to move the affordability needle.”

In the second quarter, the RBC measures edged lower for condominium apartments and two-storey homes by 0.6 percentage points and 0.4 percentage points, respectively, while the measure for detached bungalows was unchanged in Calgary.

“Such general amelioration kept housing affordability in check at some of the better levels among Canada’s largest cities,” said the report.

The RBC Housing Affordability Measure, which has been compiled since 1985, shows the proportion of median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and utilities.

In the second quarter, RBC measures for Calgary edged lower for condominium apartments by 0.6 percentage points to 21.6 per cent and for two-storey homes by 0.4 percentage points to 37.2 per cent. The measure for detached bungalows remained unchanged at 36.7 per cent.

RBC said significant drops in the prices for electricity and natural gas in the second quarter of 2012 in Alberta “further solidified this province’s position as the market with the lowest home ownership costs as a share of household income in Canada.”

The RBC measures eased by 0.6 percentage points for both two-storey homes and condominium apartments, while the measure for detached bungalows edged lower by 0.3 percentage points, it said.

“Alberta experienced a 17 per cent decline in utility costs, which was the largest contributor to across-the-board improvements in housing affordability in the most recent quarter,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC. “Attractive affordability and a vibrant provincial economy are providing powerful incentives for Alberta homebuyers – second quarter home resales were at the best level in five years, surging 18 per cent over the same period last year.”

The affordablity measures in Alberta were: 32.0 per cent for detached bungalows; 34.8 per cent for two-storey homes; and 19.7 per cent for condominiums.

In Canada, they were: 43.4 per cent for bungalows, up 0.2 per cent; 49.4 per cent for two-storeys, up 0.6 per cent; and 28.8 per cent for condominiums, unchanged.


CALGARY — On a cool and rainy day in Calgary, five busloads of potential residential real estate investors embarked Friday on a tour of the area to check out the market.

“About 60 per cent of them are not from Calgary,” said Don Campbell, president of the Real Estate Investment Network in Canada, which organized the tour. “It’s a really good mix everywhere from Halifax to the United States to Victoria.”

The residential market cycle is performing exactly as a real estate market is supposed to do, he said.

“We’re calling it the Goldilocks market. It’s not too hot, not too cold. It’s just right,” said Campbell. “The underlying economic fundamentals like the job growth and the population growth are just starting to ripple into the housing market.

“The vacancy rate has collapsed. Rents last month that were in the $1,500 range are now this month getting $1,695. So the next stage of the cycle will be people will start to make more decisions towards buying so that means the rest of this year it will perform as it’s performing right now which is listings are down, volume is up and then in 2013, especially in the spring and summer of 2013, you’re going to feel the upward pressure on the prices. The prices haven’t really moved that much in Calgary which is as exactly as predicted for us.”

On Friday, the Conference Board of Canada said the short-term year-over-year price growth expectation for Calgary’s resale housing market is between five and 6.9 per cent.

The board said the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of MLS® sales in Calgary in July was 28,392, up 2.3 per cent from the previous month and an increase of 21.3 per cent from a year ago.

Listings of 41,904 are down 4.4 per cent on a monthly basis and off by 5.8 per cent on an annual basis.

The board said the average sale price in Calgary in July of $410,731 was slightly up (0.1 per cent) from June and a year-over-year hike of three per cent.

And the board said Calgary’s sales to listings ratio of 0.642 puts it in balanced market territory.

“We teach about Calgary across the country — actually we teach a lot about Alberta across the country,” said Campbell. “Theory is great but what we like to do — and what we have done for the last 20 years — is get people on a bus and then drive around and actually show them the infrastructure that’s being built, the job growth that’s happening in an area.

“All it is identifying regions that are good opportunities and those regions that aren’t as good from a cash-flow perspective.”


CALGARY — Calgary’s retail vacancy rate continues to decline as consumer spending in the province remains higher than year-ago levels.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that Alberta retail sales reached $5.6 billion in June, up 6.6 per cent from a year ago and the highest annual growth rate in the country. But sales dipped by 1.3 per cent from the previous month.

At the national level, sales of $38.7 billion were up 1.7 per cent from a year ago but down 0.4 per cent on a monthly basis.

“There’s a lot of pressure on good quality space from good quality tenants looking to expand (to Calgary),” said Jeff Robson, vice-president and associate broker with Barclay Street Real Estate Ltd. in Calgary.

“The economy here seems to be a little more protected than other parts of the country. Interest and expansion is coming largely from within. But U.S. retailers are certainly entering our market. Where once we would have been overlooked in favour of three or four cities in Canada, now we’re considered a hot place to look.”

According to Barclay Street, the overall retail vacancy rate in the city of 1.9 per cent has been on a downward decline since 2009. Total retail space inventory in Calgary is about 37.2 million square feet.

Robson said once the city hit the million-mark in population it opened the doors to a new set of retail tenants.

In the next five years, he said, the central business district will see retail expansion at a substantial level.

Current inventory is about 6.4 million square feet.

“I could see a million to two million square feet of inventory come online in the next three to five years based on the projects that are coming up, the tenants that are looking, whether it’s East Village, the west Beltline, east Beltline. All these areas,” said Robson.

Statistics Canada said retail sales fell in six provinces in June with Alberta reporting the largest decline in dollar terms after posting the largest increase in May. Lower sales of new motor vehicles were the main reason for the June decrease, it said.

“While wages and consumer prices in Alberta have been increasing over the past couple years, another big reason provincial receipts are so much higher in 2012 relative to 2011 — receipts in June were six per cent higher on a year-over-year basis — is the jump in inter-provincial migration that occurred over the period. This might foreshadow lower second quarter 2012 migration numbers,” said William van’t Veld, economist with ATB Financial.

“It should be noted that consumer spending in Alberta, while still very important, constitutes a much smaller proportion of economic activity than in other jurisdictions. That is to say, personal expenditures make up 60 per cent of Ontario’s economy and only 43 per cent of Alberta’s. Conversely, Alberta is far more dependent on business investment than other jurisdictions.”

The surprise drop in June sales at the national level was broad-based, suggesting households are becoming a little more cautious, though cross-border shopping may have played a role as well, said Benjamin Reitzes, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, of the national scene.

“Indeed, annual sales growth hit the slowest pace in 16 months and activity is actually lower since the start of the year,” he said.

“The constant haranguing by policy-makers urging households to borrow more cautiously, along with slowing job growth, has prompted some restraint. Given that employment contracted in July and likely won’t improve significantly over the coming months, and with the added drain of cross-border shopping, retail sales will have difficulty gathering much momentum through the second half of the year.”


Calgary’s homebuilding industry is facing a positive future, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

Photograph by: Colleen De Neve , Calgary Herald

CALGARY — Expectations for the homebuilding industry in the Calgary region are positive, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

In its Metropolitan Housing Starts report released Friday, the board said short and long term expectations for housing starts are positive in the Calgary census metropolitan area.

The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of starts for the region was 9,417, up from 6,734 a year ago.

Short-term expectations are based on residential permits while long-term expectations are based on demographic requirements.

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I have listed a new property at 2379 SAGEWOOD CRES SW in AIRDRIE.
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CALGARY — Thomas Ferianec has built and sold a number of infill homes in the southwest Altadore neighbourhood of Calgary.

But his latest one is “cutting edge,” he says, and “the future of real estate in Calgary” which includes an underground tunnel from the home to a home theatre underneath the garage.

“I do quite a few infills in the area and I designed it based on a couple of homes that I’ve sold in the area,” said Ferianec, of NewInfills.CA.

“Altadore is actually the hottest neighbourhood in the city right now for infills. Absolutely. Every single street that you drive down will have construction on it. Every single street. It’s close to downtown for one but it also has a lot of amenities which you don’t necessarily find in some of the neighbourhoods.”

The latest project is a two-storey infill on 48th Avenue S.W. just off 20th Street with just under 2,000 square feet. The home is being built by custom home builder Stephens Fine Homes in Calgary.

It is expected to be completed September 1 and will go on sale then for $1.25 million.

“We wanted to design a home that would cater to a market that’s looking for something that’s more of an infill-style home but with a higher quality with features you don’t normally find in these infill homes,” said Ferianec.

Those features include everything from an abundance of natural light, high ceilings and quality finishings. But it also includes a connecting underground tunnel, about 12 feet long, from a fully-finished basement to the garage where a home theatre/entertainment area exists under the garage.

The back foundation wall of the house has been pushed out, creating more square footage in the basement.

“We built it around that purchaser who probably likes to entertain and likes to have people over and really likes opulence around them. So we’ve got an Irish pub in the basement and a movie theatre underneath the garage,” said Ferianec.

“This is something that’s a little more cutting edge and unique in this market and this is the future of real estate. People are now drawn towards the inner-city. They want to shorten their commute times and they like the lifestyle of being closer to downtown.”

Lai Sing Louie, regional economist for the Prairies and Territories for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said people wanting to live in a new home and close to the city core are buying infill properties.

“Buyers are willing to pay a premium for land located in the inner-city compared to the suburbs,” said Louie. “These buyers want a new home and the lifestyle downtown neighbourhoods offer. For those with a larger budget, builders are just knocking down the older home and replacing it one-for-one with a new single-detached home. New construction in the inner-city rejuvenates older neighbourhoods and tends to increase property values and economic activity.”

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I have listed a new property at 6 CRANRIDGE TERR SE in CALGARY.
Absolutely gorgeous former showhome in Cranston. This home was built to please! With beautiful stucco and stone exterior. A bright open foyer with ceramic tile and hardwood. The office/dining room has a 2way fireplace & hardwood perfect for working or entertaining. The family room is very large with 2way FP, hardwood and gorgeous custom built ins! The kitchen is huge! Tons of room to work, with granite counters, oversized cabinets and drawers! The walkthrough pantry is far from ordinary with custom cabinetry and a working station! Just off the drywalled, insulated & painted garage is an unbelievable mud room, so much space here! The family will never be crowded coming or going! The open and dramatic staircase takes you upstairs to an amazing bonus room, 2 more generous sized bedrooms, upper laundry suite designed for simplicity and ease! The double doors lead to the massive owners suite with an Ensuite fit for a Queen with waterfall tu,b his/her sinks & huge walk in closet.

New listing in Cranston Calgary. 2646 square foot two-storey. Gorgeous former showhome beautiful in every detail.

Check out the virtual tour at and new photos are coming as well to showcase this gem!

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