CALGARY — Calgary experienced a housing market renaissance in 2012, reaping the benefits of strong provincial GDP and in-migration, which propelled home resales in the area, says a report released Monday by RBC Economics Research.

The latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report listed Calgary as one of the more affordable housing markets in Canada.

“Calgary-area buyers enjoyed significantly lower home ownership costs as a share of income than they faced at the market peak in early 2007 and the bar fell even further in 2012,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist of RBC. “In fact, it is the only major city in Canada where RBC measures are lower than their historical averages, suggesting that Calgary is one of the more affordable markets in the country.”

Thanks to improvements in previous quarters, all RBC measures stood below their previous-year levels in the fourth quarter. There was some minor deterioration in the latest period, however, with the measure for detached bungalows rising by 0.2 percentage points. But the measure for two-storey homes remained flat, and that for condominium apartments fell by 0.1 percentage points.

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

In Calgary, the average price of a detached bungalow in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $440,600 and the affordability measure was 38.1 per cent. The average price for a standard two-storey home was $434,700 with a measure of 38.6 per cent and for a standard condominium the average price was $250,100 with a measure of 22.2 per cent.

“It’s an exciting time for buyers, borrowing is very affordable right now. I’m seeing this affect the first-time homebuyer and investor market the most lately,” said Shayna Nackoney-Skauge, realtor with RE/MAX Rocky View Real Estate.

“Last week we listed a house that is in relatively original condition in the Varsity area. Within the first eight hours we had 15 showings and two offers. Buyers are flocking to scoop up new competitively-priced listings and investors are quick to pick up well-priced homes for their lot value in high-demand inner-city areas. It’s definitely keeping us on our toes to keep up with what is coming on and off the market on a daily basis.”

RBC said Alberta’s housing market remained vibrant in the final quarter of last year, buoyed by attractive affordability levels, accelerating population growth, a healthy labour market and a strong provincial economy. Although the pace of home resales slowed in the closing months of 2012, the housing market tightened up as fewer properties were listed for sale, it said.

“While homes are not particularly cheap in the province, Albertans boast the highest household incomes in Canada, which helps ensure that the share of their budget taken up by home ownership costs is easily manageable,” said Wright. “Barring an unexpected shock to the economy, housing market conditions in Alberta should remain positive in 2013.”

The RBC housing affordability measures for the province fell across all three housing types tracked by RBC. RBC’s measures for the benchmark detached bungalow and the standard two-storey fell by 0.2 percentage points to 32.1 per cent and 34.7 per cent, respectively. The measure for condominium apartments fell by 0.1 percentage points to 19.7 per cent. Average prices were: bungalow, $357,900; two-storey, $378,800; and condo, $213,300.

Nationally, affordability measures dropped by 0.2 percentage points for both bungalows (42.1 per cent) and condos (28.0 per cent) and by 0.3 percentage points for two-storey homes (47.8 per cent). Average prices in Canada in the fourth quarter of 2012 were: bungalow, $363,400; two-storey, $410,600; and condos, $237,600.

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CALGARY — The Calgary region can expect to see increases in both sales and average MLS prices for the next two years, according to a housing forecast released Friday by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The agency said sales in the Calgary census metropolitan area will grow by 1.37 per cent this year to 27,000 units followed by another 2.59 per cent growth in 2014 to 27,700 transactions.

The average sale price is expected to rise by 2.59 per cent this year to $423,000 and by another 2.6 per cent in 2014 to $434,000.

Christina Hagerty, a realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in Calgary, said she has had a very busy start so far to the year.

“With Calgary’s industries continuing to hire, I see many people coming from other Canadian centres and the U.S,” said Hagerty. “Specializing in the inner-city market, most of the people we meet are either job transfers and want no commute to work, first-time buyers and empty nesters.”

She said rental vacancy rates are at an all-time low and interest rates have remained historically low as well which have been factors in increasing housing demand.

“All the indicators are continuing to confirm our projections last year that Calgary will be leading the nation,” she said. “Affordable mortgages, record low vacancy rates, continued inward migration and low inventory going into the Spring market makes for a year of healthy growth ahead.”

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, year-to-date until February 21, total MLS sales in the city of 2,498 are up 11.57 per cent compared with the same period last year and the average sale price has risen by 10.63 per cent to $448,635.

For Alberta, the CMHC is forecasting MLS sales to increase from 60,369 in 2012 to 61,000 in 2013 and to 62,400 in 2014.

In the province, the average MLS sale price is forecast to increase from $363,208 in 2012 to $371,200 this year and to $380,700 next year.

The CMHC report also forecast that housing starts in Alberta will fall from 33,396 in 2012 to 31,800 in 2013 but then rise to 32,200 in 2014.

In Calgary, starts are expected to fall from 12,841 in 2012 to 11,800 in 2013 and then rise slightly to 11,900 in 2014.

“The resale market in Calgary is anticipated to remain in balanced territory over the forecast horizon,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for the CMHC. “Sales in 2013 are forecast to rise for the third consecutive year but at a more tempered pace compared to the previous year. Low mortgage rates, rising incomes and employment growth will continue to help support housing demand. Some sales will also come from renters who migrated to Calgary in the last couple of years.

“The average price has been gradually trending up, and is expected to continue in 2013. Active listings have declined, lowering the selection of available homes and putting pressure on prices.”

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CALGARY — The value of building permits in the Calgary region reached $393.5 million in December, up 6.1 per cent from the previous month but down 40.7 per cent from a year ago, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency also reported Thursday that Alberta saw permit value decline in December to $1.3 billion, down 12.8 per cent on a monthly basis and by 4.6 per cent year-over-year.

In the province, residential permits decreased by 10.1 per cent from the previous month to $668.3 million. However, that represented an annual hike of 2.4 per cent. Non-residential permits of $588.1 million were off 15.7 per cent on a monthly basis and down 11.6 per cent year-over-year.

Nationally, overall permit value was $5.7 billion. That was down 11.2 per cent from the previous month and down 16.2 per cent from December 2011.

Residential permits of $3.3 billion showed declines of 13.1 per cent monthly and 27.1 per cent annually. Non-residential permits of $2.5 billion were off 8.5 per cent from the previous month but up 4.7 per cent from a year ago.

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CALGARY — The FIRST highrise condo project in East Village officially got off the ground Thursday with a ground-breaking ceremony for the 18-storey, 196-unit residential development by builder FRAM+Slokker.

“We’re kicking off the new year with a bang,” said Fred Serrafero, vice-president of development with the FRAM Building Group. “Calgary is a unique market. We have enjoyed a great response to our initial product offering and now with permitting in place, we are starting construction immediately. It’s a great day for our buyers and for the redevelopment of this master planned urban village.”

Early in 2010, Ontario-based FRAM Building Group and Slokker Real Estate Group (FRAM + Slokker) together with TRICON Capital Group joined Vancouver developer Embassy BOSA to pioneer new multi-family development within East Village. Together the developers represent approximately $650 million of private investment for East Village.

The FRAM+Slokker projects represent 700 new residential units and about 730,000 square feet of new mixed-use development over a total of seven buildings - three highrise towers and four midrise structures.

Serrafero said close to 70 per cent of FIRST has been sold with prices ranging from about $250,000 to $1 million. Of five penthouse units, three have been sold. The tower is scheduled for completion mid-2015.

He said the builder is working on the next phase of the development which involves a 24-storey tower and a midrise building. An announcement is expected by the summer with sales to start later this year on phase two of the project.

Embassy BOSA currently has the first phase of its EVOLUTION condo project under construction in East Village which is a 19-storey, 203-unit tower scheduled to be ready for occupancy in September 2014.

“This year Calgarians will see significant advancement in the community as projects like FIRST, the National Music Centre and St. Patrick’s Island redevelopment break ground, thus forever changing the face of East Village,” said Michael Brown, president and chief executive of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation. ”CMLC has been advancing our master plan vision for this downtown community since 2007 and while there remains a lot of work to do, we are very proud to welcome new residents into East Village by early 2015.

FIRST, located at 550 Riverfront Ave. S.E., will be a full amenity condominium development offering a rooftop lounge and outdoor patio, a landscaped courtyard and green roof, residents’ fitness centre, yoga studio, and bike parking. Construction timeline is anticipated at 22 months.

East Village, a mixed-use, inner-city community, is expected to be home to more than 11,000 residents when it is completed.

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CALGARY — Calgary’s housing market experienced a record year for luxury home sales in 2012 and the pace of transactions in January 2013 suggests the market is not slowing down.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, there were 34 MLS® sales in Calgary of properties over $1 million in January — just shy of the January record of 36 luxury sales in 2007.

Calgary finished 2012 with an all-time record of 544 luxury home sales, eclipsing the previous mark of 458 in 2007.

The luxury home market in the city has rebounded following the recession dip of a couple of years ago.

Don Campbell, senior analyst and founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network, said that during market corrections luxury homes are the first to drop off, after recreational properties, and the first to come back unlike recreational which is always last to recover.

“In Calgary, within the business world, confidence in business has come roaring back,” he said. “This has led those with capital and strong businesses to take the leap into the market.

“In a higher than average percentage, due to their more business orientation, those buying luxury homes have their finger on the pulse of economic direction and therefore with the resurgence of the Calgary economy over the last 14 months, they are identifying the fact that the luxury homes they want are not going to get any cheaper than they are now. They are seeing the underlying economic strength of the city and want to get into the market before it is reflected in the housing market. That is why you saw so much activity in 2012.”

Campbell said the large number of luxury home sales will push average sale prices up more than it is really being felt at the mid-market level.

“This will create un-supported expectations of mid-market sellers. Also, there are only so many luxury market homes in any given market and they are often the first to move,” said Campbell. “What we often see is a slowdown in these sales after 18 to 24 months and when this occurs it slows down the average sale price increase to lower than is being felt on the street.

“The other anomaly we are seeing in Calgary in the luxury market is the profile of the buyer. Compared to Toronto and Vancouver, whose luxury homebuyer demographic is made up of a large percentage of foreign/offshore buyers, Calgary’s luxury homebuyer profile is very local. People here in business have high paying jobs in Alberta. This is a much more stable cohort than the often fickle offshore buyer.”

Last year in January there were 16 luxury home sales in Calgary. After hitting a high in 2007, the market dipped to only six sales in January 2009.

“We have seen a 20 per cent increase in luxury sales in Calgary in 2012 over 2011 and are seeing tremendous momentum building already in 2013 this past month,” said Rachelle Starnes, Realtor® with Royal LePage Foothills in Calgary. “We have seen 10 sales over $1 million in Rocky View County in the past month, up 67 per cent over the same period last year. The Springbank area continues to be the busiest being one of the wealthiest areas in the country.

“Prices have dropped in the higher-end to reasonable levels, there is a dwindling supply and buyers have been out shopping the market for months. They have done their research and are ready to buy the minute the ‘perfect’ home hits the market. Calgary continues to be the ‘City of Choice’ for corporations moving West and the high salaries from the oil and gas market sectors allow for lots of ‘move-up’ buyers.”

The following are the annual sales in Calgary for homes priced at more than $1 million, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board:

2012 — 544

2011 — 446

2010 — 365

2009 — 337

2008 — 369

2007 — 458

2006 — 334

2005 — 138

2004 — 44

2003 — 36

2002 — 21

2001 — 14

2000 — 14

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CALGARY — The resale housing market in places just outside the City of Calgary saw MLS® transactions spike in January compared with a year ago.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, total sales of 245 in that market were up 31.02 per cent from January 2011.

The average sale price, though, dipped by 0.55 per cent, to $349,213.

The benchmark price, which CREB describes as typical properties sold, rose by 6.19 per cent to $329,200.

The real estate board said new listings during the month fell by 13.45 per cent to 547 and active listings were also down by 33.98 per cent to 1,218.

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CALGARY — Calgary’s resale housing market had its best January for sales since 2008 as average prices also climbed to their highest level ever for the month.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, total MLS® sales in the city in January were 1,230, up 15.17 per cent from a year ago while the average sale price rose by 12.34 per cent cent to $439,671.

The previous record high for the average sale price in any January was in 2008 at $413,271.

“In today’s Calgary real estate market there are a number of significant factors that influence our housing sector. The growth within the energy sector is significant along with consumer confidence in the marketplace as well as steady economic performance,” said Kaitlyn Gottlieb, Realtor® with Century 21 Bamber Realty Ltd. in Calgary. “While these factors continue to increase home sales, should inventory continue to decline, pricing may continue to increase steadily, yet moderately. Although it is early in the year to make market predictions, if 2013 continues to bring good economic activity there is a great possibility that 2013 will exceed our expectations both in the Calgary real estate market and in Calgary’s outlying areas. While 2013 growth may be modest, we can still expect a positive market for this year.

“Alberta continues to fuel growth as a commodity-rich province and is expected to continue to support moderate price growth as we saw in 2012. The increased prices we have seen on single-family homes can partially be attributed to the record number of luxury homes sales we saw last year.”

In the single-family home market in Calgary, sales during January of 879 were up 15.20 per cent from last year and the average sale price rose by 12.74 per cent to $496,579.

The average sale price was the fifth highest ever for any month in the single-family market. The peak was $506,670 set in July 2007.

In the condo apartment category, sales of 204 for January were up 13.97 per cent from a year ago while the average sale price jumped by 13.09 per cent to $280,273. The condo townhouse sector saw sales increase by 16.67 per cent from a year ago to 147 transactions and the average price rise by 7.61 per cent to $320,590.

“Prices have improved in the Calgary market but as always it is important to keep some perspective on this,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist. “While January’s year-over-year increase seems significant, price recovery occurred in the spring months of 2012 under tighter market conditions and home prices leveled off for the remainder of the year.”

CREB also tracks the prices for what it calls typical properties sold. The overall benchmark price in the city rose by 8.35 per cent to $392,000. The single-family home benchmark price jumped by 9.01 per cent to $436,900. It rose by 7.49 per cent in the condo apartment category to $251,300 and it was up by 4.85 per cent in the condo townhouse category to $283,400.

“The employment gains achieved in previous years along with rising income, low mortgage rates and robust net migration levels has sustained demand for housing,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. “Many buyers have benefited from Calgary’s growing economy, giving them opportunities to move into homeownership.

“Some of the resale activity will have likely come from renters as well. As the rental market has tightened with average rents moving up, some renters may have decided to purchase a starter home and take on a mortgage instead of paying rent.”

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