Courtesy of CREB
Real estate fraud and scams are rare, but often receive an outsized amount of media attention.
Former Real Estate Council of Alberta investigator, and current supervisor of training and compliance with CREB®, Ryan DeLuca says it’s far more likely day-to-day real estate transactional details – without the benefit of advice, research and direction from licensed professionals – will trip people up.
However, here are some of the potential, albeit rare, issues to avoid and how to spot them:
DeLuca describes this as the only case of fraud where a homeowner is totally oblivious to what’s happening – until the bank comes looking for its money or the new “buyer” shows up. The scammer, often through identity theft, gets an additional mortgage on the home, or sells it. Homeowners should get title insurance or check their land title documents regularly through Service Alberta.
Straw buyer fraud
In this scam, you are offered money for your name on a mortgage because the “real” buyer – maybe someone new to the country – is unable to get a mortgage. You’re told the title will eventually be transferred, only it never happens, and you end up on the hook for money borrowed.
People in financial distress are most likely to get caught up in real estate scams, due to a tendency to look for an easy fix and overlook major red flags. In this scam, someone offers to buy your property for a small amount of money and rent back the home until you can “catch up.” The rent’s high, you will never “catch up” and the property eventually gets sold from under you.
Property investment seminars/courses
Offered by unlicensed professionals, these courses often promise the secrets to buying and flipping properties for millions of dollars.
“They make it sound simple,” said DeLuca. “The seminars are free, but then they sell you books and paid seminars.”
Usually U.S.-based, these seminars don’t speak to Canadian or Alberta laws and regulations. “There is nothing wrong with attending for general information, but unless you have a background in contract law and real estate, you can get into a lot of financial and legal trouble [following their advice],” said DeLuca.
In this scam, a condo owner rents to a tenant who, instead of living in the unit, uses it for short-term rentals, breaking municipal bylaws and possibly damaging the condo in the process. In a similar scenario, people sometimes rent units from services like Airbnb or VRBO only to find the posting was created by scammers, not the unit’s owner.
Because relevant legislation and bylaws are constantly changing, DeLuca says doing your research, reading all contracts and seeking the help of a licensed professional – whether it’s a REALTOR®, lawyer, mortgage broker, reputable lender or property manager – are the best ways to avoid becoming a victim of any real estate scam.
“Find someone who will act in your best interests,” he said.
City of Calgary, June 3, 2019 – Sales growth in May was met with a decline in new listings. This combination eased the pressure on inventory levels, which finished the month at 7,467 units, a decline of 12 per cent compared to last year.
Improving sales relative to inventory levels caused the months of supply to ease to just under four months. While still oversupplied, this is an improvement from the five months of supply recorded last May.
Citywide sales in May totalled 1,921 units, 11 per cent higher than last year’s levels. However, sales remain 10 per cent below longer-term trends. This sales growth was primarily driven by homes prices under $500,000.
“While sales activity remains low based on historical activity for May, the easing prices have brought some people back to market, while also preventing some others from listing their homes,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
“This has started to push the market towards more balanced conditions. If this trend continues, it could limit some of the downward pressure on prices.”
Citywide benchmark prices totalled $423,100 in May. Prices have shown some signs of improvement month-over-month, but remain four per cent lower than 2018 levels.
• Detached sales in May totalled 1,182 units. This is a 12 per cent increase over last year, but still 13 per cent below long-termaverages. The improvement in sales was driven primarily by gains in homes priced under $500,000.
• Sales activity increased across most districts in May. However, year-to-dates sales have only increased in the East, South and North East districts of the city. Citywide sales remain one per cent lower than last year’s levels.
• New listings in May pulled back significantly from previous year’s levels. Combined with an improvement in sales, this resulted in inventories declining from 4,504 units last May to 3,921 units this month. This is the first time since May 2017 that year-over-year inventories declined.
• Easing inventory and improving sales caused months of supply to ease to 3.3 months. This is still elevated compared to historical levels, but represents an improvement compared to levels from the past year.
• Prices have remained relatively stable over the past few months, with some modest monthly improvements. However, the oversupply scenario has left prices four per cent lower than last year and seven per cent lower than 2014 highs.
• The improvement in monthly sales was not enough to offset previous declines. Year-to-date apartment sales sit at 1,030 units. This is seven per cent lower than last year and 28 per cent lower than longer-term averages. Easing sales were met with fewer new listings, reducing the market inventory. This pushed months of supply to just over five months.
• If the reduction in oversupply continues, it will eventually help limit price declines. However, this market remains oversupplied and prices continue to edge down.
• May benchmark prices totalled $246,900, 0.6 per cent lower than last month and nearly three per cent lower than last year’s levels. This is resulting in a total price adjustment of over 17 per cent since 2014.
•Attached sales activity continue to improve in May. Year-to-date sales improved by two per cent, making this the only sector to record a year-to-date improvement. Improvements occurred throughout most districts of the city, apart from the City Centre, North West and West districts.
•New listings have also pulled back relative to sales. This is causing inventories to ease compared to last year and months ofsupply to trend down.
•Benchmark prices remain five per cent lower than last year’s levels, but have seen some modest gains on a month-to-month basis. Despite some signs of improvement, prices remain 10 per cent lower than 2014 highs.
To download the complete statistics package, click HERE.
Are you considering a beautiful winter home in Arizona? How about Cave Creek, just outside Scottsdale? If this is something you are thinking about, give me a call. Here is more information.
Estates At Lone Mountain
Single Family Homes - United States - Arizona
Location: 5910 East Little Wells Pass, Cave Creek, AZ, United States
Prices starting from: USD $502,990
The Estates at Lone Mountain is where desert life blooms. Community parks, ball fields and playgrounds, basketball courts, ramadas and desert gardens neatly complement beautiful new single-family homes. All are laid out across more than 600 acres (243 hectacres) of the Sonoran Desert and its striking beauty. Lone Mountain also offers an opportunity to be close to highly acclaimed shopping, schools and recreation areas.
Property Type: Single Family Homes
Amenities: Security, Playgrounds, Green Spaces, Common Areas, Easy access to Scottsdale & Phoenix
Think green amid beautiful desert terrain — as in more than 600 acres of the Sonoran Desert, including a greenbelt area. Then think “active” amenities — as in courts for sports, a hiking trail, a playground and a picnic area.
Homes range in size from 261 to 337 square meters, and they offer many of Lennar’s most popular features: Lennar’s Future Proof Home, Next Gen℠ - The Home Within a Home® and Lennar’s Everything's Included®. Lennar’s Future Proof Home is all about home automation and home entertainment, ensuring quality and convenience for years ahead. Next Gen℠ contains a separate suite with private living space — its own bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. Lennar’s Everything's Included® is an exclusive offering from the builder, delivering thousands of dollars in extras simply included with each home, offering great value and the latest in luxury, technology and efficiency. Among the items throughout the home: granite kitchen countertops, GE® slate appliances, maple raised panel bathroom cabinets and executive height in all bathrooms, tile roof, recessed and energy efficient lighting, and much more.
5910 East Little Wells Pass, Cave Creek, AZ, United States
For more information on Cave Creek and other U.S. destinations, please click HERE.
Courtesy of CREB
City of Calgary, May 1, 2019 – There have been no significant changes occurring in sales activity, but the number of new listings coming onto the market continues to ease relative to 2018 levels.
The decline in new listings was enough to start chipping away at overall inventory levels, which have eased slightly comparedtolast year.
The slight adjustment in supply levels has helped support further reductions in the months of supply, which was 4.6 months inApril. While this level still represents oversupply in our market, it does reflect improvement from the nearly seven months of supply that we saw at thestart of the year.
“Demand remains relatively weak in the resale market. However, if supply levels continue to adjust, this could help reduce the amount of oversupply and eventually support some price stability,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
As of April, the total residential benchmark price in Calgary was $415,900. This is slightly higher than last month, but still nearly five per cent lower than last year’s levels.
Citywide sales were 1,547 units in April, two per cent higher than last year’s levels. Year-to-date sales remain nearly six per cent lower than last year and are 26 per cent below longer-term averages.
“Sales have been improving mostly in the lower price ranges, causing tighter supply conditions in that segment. This will likely have a different impact on price trends in the lower price ranges depending on location,” said Lurie.
HOUSING MARKET FACTS
•Detached sales improved by nearly three per cent in April compared to last year, due to gains in homes priced under $500,000.However, with 930 sales, activity still remain 24 per cent below long-term averages. Recent gains were also not high enough to offset pullbacks earlier in the year, causing year-to-date sales to fall by over five per cent.
•Improving sales did not occur across all districts. In April, there was growth in the North East, North West, South and SouthEast districts of the city. Despite some signs of sales improvement, overall sales activity remains well below 10-year averages throughout every region in the city.
•April detached inventories citywide continue to remain just above levels recorded last year. Months of supply remain relatively unchanged at four months.
•The amount of oversupply has varied significantly depending on the area of the city. Months of supply has only risen in the CityCentre, South and West districts of the city.
•Despite some of the adjustments occurring in the detached sector, overall April prices remain lower than last year’s levels across all districts. Year to date, the largest year-over-year declines occurred in in the City Centre, North West and South districts.
•Despite the affordability of apartment condominiums, sales activity continues to fall across the city and in most districts. There have been 714 apartment condominium sales so far this year, the lowest level since 2001.
•The decline in new listings has started to outweigh the sales decline, causing inventories to ease. As of April, resale apartment condominium inventories totaled 1,546 units, 16 per cent lower than inventory levels last April.
•The easing inventories have also caused the months of supply to decline to just above six months. While this is still a buyers’ market, this trend could help ease the downward pressure on prices if it continues.
•Apartment condominium prices in April totalled $250,400, comparable to last month, but over two per cent below last year’s levels and nearly 17 per cent below 2014 highs.
•Attached sales activity improved compared to last year’s levels for the second straight month, almost offsetting the declinesoccurring in the first two months of the year. Year-to-date sales were 1,113 units, nearly one per cent below last year’s levels, and 14 per cent below long-term averages.
•Year-to-date sales have improved in all districts except the City Centre, North West and West.
•Improved sales and easing listings have helped prevent further inventory gains in this sector and overall months of supply have trended down to five months.
•Following several months of prices trending down, semi-detached benchmark prices in April rose over the previous month. However,prices remain over five per cent below last year’s levels at $395,300.
•Row prices were $284,900 in April, over five per cent below last year’s levels.
To download the complete statistics package, click HERE.
Courtesy of CREB
When Mark Evernden goes to list his own west-end home next month, it will be priced at less than what he bought it for a decade ago.
“I paid $1.3 million, and I know the replacement value if I was building today would be $1.8 million,” said the private office advisor and licensed partner with Engel & Volkers Calgary, who has been selling in Calgary’s luxury market for more than a decade.
By listing his home at $1.289 million, in a clear buyers’ market, Evernden says the price will generate traffic. “There’s still buyers, there’s still money out there.”
He says his situation is what every luxury home seller must face today.
“The market tells us what is happening right now, and the evaluations of high-end homes are 30 to 40 per cent less than replacement value,” he said.
That market for $1-million-plus properties is primarily focused in the inner city and west end of Calgary. As an international firm, Evernden says, Engel & Volkers is seeing interest from foreign buyers in Calgary’s luxury product, as well as Canmore’s, where his company recently opened a new office.
“Prices there are double that in Calgary and it is a luxury home destination for those wanting a second or third home,” he said.
“There are a lot of pretty amazing homes out there that are unique and just need to find the right buyer.” – Mark Evernden, Engel & Volkers
Mary-Ann Mears, managing broker at Sotheby’s International Realty in Calgary, describes the luxury market as “active, and for me, that is a good market.
“There is no doubt that, right now, buyers are in the driver’s seat and looking for the best optimization of their portfolios,” she said.
In its year-end report, Sotheby’s said 2018’s luxury market in Calgary saw a sales drop of 10 per cent.
Mears says February’s bad weather meant lower activity, but March has brought an upswing. Buyers are seeing good prices, while a lot of interest is being directed at the semi-detached market.
However, Mears says many potential buyers are still taking a wait-and-see approach, as the city’s economic woes continue and new layoffs add to the already high unemployment rate.
Yet, the luxury market, and its high-net-worth buyers, are still there. Evernden, for example, will soon be listing a west-Calgary home for $13 million.
“There are a lot of pretty amazing homes out there that are unique and just need to find the right buyer,” he said.
As spring starts to arrive in Calgary, homeowners might be looking ahead to the warmer months and the possibilities for home improvement or building something new on their property.
Many of the most popular projects involve fences, whether building new or breathing life into an old one. However, fence building can be fraught with frustrations: Who is responsible for fence construction between two properties? What are the costs? What should it be made of?
Here are some key considerations to think about before beginning any fence project, big or small.
Hardware stores like Home Depot and Rona sell fencing packages that are pre-configured and help reduce costs. Deciding which materials to use can be difficult, but the main options are cedar, wrought iron, vinyl and aluminum. Regardless of the material, fences need to be maintained over each season to extend their life.
“Treated cedar is usually the most cost effective and will last between 10 and 15 years if properly cared for,” said Ray Vodden, a sales specialist at Rona in Calgary.
“Sight lines for vehicles and pedestrians are a safety concern and fences cannot inhibit the view.” – Leanna McMillan, City of Calgary media relations
Fencing costs will largely depending on the materials used in construction and the area being fenced in. For eight linear feet of standard brown treated cedar, which is one of the most common in Calgary, the cost would be $150 plus a gate package at $200. Multiplying this by the number of feet on your property should provide a fair approximation of total cost.
Choosing another building material might lower your costs, but the resulting fence could be less than ideal for cold weather. “With vinyl and aluminum … You have the problem with hot to cold, so it’s not designed to go between those temperatures,” said Vodden. “Aluminum will discolour over time as well.”
Permits and bylaw
There are several bylaw considerations that need to be respected when planning a new fence. According to the City of Calgary, fence heights should be two metres for the backyard, 1.5 metres in the front and gates should be no more than 2.5 metres. Posts must be dug four feet deep in order to avoid frost damage.
Calgarians can always call 311 with specific questions or to deal with any issues that appear.
Disputes between neighbours over fences are a matter for civil courts and not under the purview of the City of Calgary. However, there are other issues where the City may be forced to intervene.
“One consideration that often surprises homeowners on corner lots is the corner visibility triangle,” said Leanna McMillan, a media relations contact with the City of Calgary. “Sight lines for vehicles and pedestrians are a safety concern and fences cannot inhibit the view.”
Courtesy of CREB
City of Calgary, March 1, 2019 – The effects of Calgary’s economic climate continue to create weak sales activity and elevated inventory in the city’s housing market.
As a result, prices are being affected.
“It is not a surprise that slowing activity in the housing market has persisted into February,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
“There has been no substantial change in the economic climate and concerns regarding potential layoffs in the energy sector are weighing on confidence.”
As of February, citywide benchmark prices were $414,400. This is nearly five per cent below last February, slightly lower than last month’s figures and over 10 per cent below highs recorded in 2014.
While the market remains oversupplied, slower sales and price declines do appear to be influencing sellers. New listings this month eased by eight per cent compared to last year for a total of 2,211 units. However, the 976 sales this month were not enough to substantially impact inventories levels, which remain elevated at 5,885 units.
HOUSING MARKET FACTS
- After the first two months of the year, detached sales were 1,079 units. This is 13 per cent below last year’s levels and nearly 30 per cent below long-term averages. Sales eased across all city districts except the North West. Activity remained well below normal levels across all districts of the city.
- The adjustments in new listings ranged from a 15 per cent increase in the North West district to a decline of 23 per cent in the North district. Overall, year-to-date new listings were 2,544 units, nearly two per cent below last year’s levels.
- Despite some adjustments in new listings, average inventories in the detached sector so far this year rose by 25 per cent compared to last year. However, some of the most affordable detached areas, including the North East and East districts, have seen inventories fall compared to last year.
- With detached months of inventory remaining above five months, prices continue to trend down. In February, citywide detached benchmark prices were $475.600, 0.2 per cent below last month and over five per cent below levels recorded last February.
- Despite the relative affordability of apartment product, sales activity remained slow with 149 sales.
- Unlike the detached sector, the seventh consecutive year-over-year decline in new listings is starting to have an impact on inventory levels.
- In February, inventory levels totalled 1,301 units. This is nine per cent below levels recorded last year. Inventories did ease, but slow sales in February kept the months of supply near nine months.
- Apartment condominium prices were $252,300 in February, a 1.7 per cent decline compared to last year, but similar to levels recorded last month. Apartment condo prices have fallen by 16 per cent over the previous monthly highs.
- Citywide benchmark prices have eased, but some districts of the city have recorded modest gains. This is not enough to erase previous declines, but points toward price stability in parts of the market.
- Conditions remained relatively unchanged in the attached sector, as months of inventory remained near seven months and prices have remained unchanged from last month, but over four per cent below last year’s levels.
- Like the apartment sector, activity can vary significantly depending on location. Benchmark prices for semi-detached product eased by over five per cent compared to last year, with the steepest declines occurring in the South and City Centre districts.
- Prices slightly improved in the North district.
- Row prices declined by nearly four per cent compared to last year. Unlike the semi-detached sector, prices eased across all districts compared to last year and remain nearly 14 per cent below monthly highs.
Courtesy of CREB. By Andrea Cox
Despite market setbacks and price drops in nearby Calgary, the Okotoks housing market managed to emerge relatively unscathed from 2018.
Okotoks REALTOR® Alison Marshall says there is still strong demand for the amenities and small-town charm inherent to the Okotoks lifestyle.
“It’s such a family-friendly town,” she said. “The school systems are great. There are so many sports programs and every neighbourhood has parks and pathways. Okotoks has all the amenities of the city and is a super easy commute into Calgary.”
According to CREB®’s 2019 Calgary Economic and Housing Outlook, total home sales (excluding new builds) in Okotoks were down from 547 homes in 2017 to 463 in 2018, a decrease of 15.36 per cent. Marshall notes that the detached market followed the same trend, down from 422 homes sold in 2017 to 368 in 2018, “which is basically only one fewer per week.”
Although the drop in sales did cause inventories to inch upwards, the market imbalance didn’t affect overall benchmark prices. In fact, year- over-year, the average benchmark resale price grew by 1.22 per cent from $421,500 in 2017 to $426,625 in 2018.
“I’m hopeful that the desire to live in one of the best communities in Alberta will drive Okotoks’s housing market and keep it steady with 2019 sales.” – Alison Marshall, Okotoks REALTOR®
That said, with the spectre of increased inventories still hanging over the market, there remains the potential for downward price pressure throughout 2019.
“But I’m hopeful that the desire to live in one of the best communities in Alberta will drive Okotoks’s housing market and keep it steady with 2019 sales,” said Marshall.
Meanwhile, the Okotoks new-home market has recently experienced an exciting shift.
Over the past few years, Okotoks hit the brakes on expansion, keeping the population hovering just below 30,000. The most recent census numbers put the town’s population at 29,002, up just 21 residents from 2016, where the federal census recorded the population at 28,881.
However, the Government of Alberta recently approved the annexation of approximately 1,950 hectares (4,900 acres) of land to the north, west, south and southeast of the town’s current boundaries. This represents a 60-year land supply, one that will be developed sustainably and to promote healthy transportation and living through a plan that is in harmony with the environment.
Anthem United is one developer that recognizes the potential of the Okotoks market.
Filling the demand for a more diverse mix of home types (the offering in Okotoks are skewed towards single-family dwellings), the developer behind the sustainability-focused community of Drake Landing broke ground on two new communities in 2018.
Located in the town’s northwest quadrant adjacent to D’Arcy Ranch Golf Course and joined by the future Gateway Village – an amenity-rich hub in the heart of the overall development – the master-planned communities of D’Arcy (113 hectares) and Wedderburn (65 hectares) offer product types that are not common in the broader Okotoks market.
Currently, D’Arcy has a selection of paired and laned homes, and villa designs and street towns with no condo fees will be coming online this spring.
All homes incorporate significant environmental features. The builder group includes Morrison Homes, Sterling Homes, Trico Homes, Prominent Homes and Partners Development Group.
In both D’Arcy and Wedderburn, showhomes will be unveiled in the coming months, including three front-drive models, along with the villas and street towns.
Amenities in these two communities are designed to complement the greater suite of offerings in Okotoks. Gateway Village will feature a high street with an urbanized, mixed-use retail environment comprised of a grocery store, coffee shops, restaurants and local retail. It is expected to open in 2020.
A pond, fitness park, play park, skating rink, walking paths and two school sites will also add to the mix.
Upon completion, the communities of D’Arcy and Wedderburn will accommodate close to 7,000 residents.
Courtesy of CREB
City of Calgary, February 1, 2019 – As economic challenges linger into 2019, housing markets remain on a sluggish pace.
January sales totalled 804 units, 16 per cent below last year and 21 per cent below long-term averages for the month.
“The slow start to the year does not come as a surprise, as concerns about job losses and the state of the energy sector weigh on consumers. We anticipate that the slow market conditions will persist throughout much of the first quarter,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
The number of new listings entering the market remained comparable to last year, but those levels far surpassed sales activity. This is resulted in further gains in inventory levels. Elevated inventories relative to sales caused months of supply to rise to nearly seven months.
Persistent buyers’ market conditions have continued to impact prices. Citywide residential benchmark prices eased to $414,800 in January. This is nearly one per cent lower than December figures and four per cent below January 2018 levels.
HOUSING MARKET FACTS
•Detached sales eased by 17 per cent compared to last year. However, declines did not occur across all districts, as sales activity improved in both the North West and North East districts. The most significant sales declines occurred in the North and West districts of the city.
•New listing rose across all districts except the North East, North and South East districts. Only the North East district recorded easing months of supply compared to last year.
•Detached benchmark prices totalled $476,500, a one per cent decline compared to December and over four per cent lower than last January.
•Prices eased across all districts. The largest year-over-year declines occurred in the South, North West and City Centre districts.
•Apartment sales totalled 126 units in January. This is 13 per cent below last year and over 20 per cent below long-term averages for the month.
•Slower sales and lower new listings helped inventory levels ease. Currently, there are 1,173 units in inventory, which is nine per cent lower than January 2018 levels.
•Despite some adjustments in inventory, months of supply remained elevated at nine months, impacting prices. While prices remained relatively flat compared to last month, they declined by two per cent compared to levels from last January.
•Prices remain well below previous highs, but there were some price improvements compared to last year in both the North East and South East districts.
•Sales declined for both row and semi-detached product types. New listings rose, causing inventories to rise for both product types.
•With the attached sector firmly reflecting buyers’ market conditions, prices eased by over four per cent for a January benchmark price of $313,700.
•Semi-detached prices eased by nearly five per cent compared to last year for a total of $393,100. The steepest declines occurred in the City Centre and South districts, with adjustments of over six per cent.
•Row prices declined by four per cent compared to last year for a total of $284,300. All districts recorded price declines, but the most notable decline occurred in the City Centre, where prices were nearly eight per cent lower than last year.
Courtest of CREB
Condo owners, sellers and buyers will have more information at their fingertips – and it will be less cumbersome and expensive to access – under new provincial guidelines slated to take effect this July.
Changes to the Condominium Property Act tackle the biggest challenge to current and potential owners and sellers: obtaining all the essential financial, legal and technical information related to the operation of condominium corporations.
“Information was frequently only partly available, costly and difficult to obtain,” said Terry Gibson, president of the Condo Owners Forum Society of Alberta, one of the consumer groups consulted by the provincial government. “Quite frankly, it hurt condominium sales and values.”
With condo ownership on the rise – one in five Albertans now live in a condo – the new regulations ensure easier access to condo documents, while clarifying what documents must be provided to owners and when they need to be provided. They also tighten rules related to meetings and how reserve funds are managed.
Serhan Tarkan, a Calgary REALTOR® with Kirby Cox and Associates who has been selling condos here for 15 years, echoes Gibson’s comments.
“It’s been the Wild West in the last decade,” he said, with some clients charged as much as $1,000 to receive condo management documents. “It’s been out of hand for a long time.”
“I can’t wait until it takes effect. It levels the playing field for transactions, whether a person is buying or selling.” – Serhan Tarkan, Kirby Cox and Associates
Tarkan says condo management companies were making substantial profits in this area for providing simple digital files.
“For some of the smaller corporations, (the new rules) could be big trouble,” he said, noting that some were charging owners $25 per month just to access condo board meeting minutes that will now have to be provided free.
“I can’t wait until it takes effect. It levels the playing field for transactions, whether a person is buying or selling.”
Gibson says the regulation changes will substantially improve governance by increasing transparency on the part of condo boards of directors when it comes to sharing information.
“Condominium corporations are valuable assets,” he said.
“Prior to these changes, it was our opinion the governance and management of many condominiums needed improvement. Many times, their quality was not representative of the large value of the assets concerned.”
Gibson also says his organization believes the changes will improve property values in the long term. However, he says additional changes are needed, including better dispute resolution and licensing regulations for condo property managers.
“Education, training and standards for condominium property managers are a very important issue – we believe many improvements are required.”
Courtesy of CREB. By Gerald Vander Pyl
Making sure your dream renovation doesn’t turn into a nightmare means doing some due diligence before signing on the dotted line.
Many potential problems can be avoided by simply choosing the right contractor to tackle your renovation project, says Danny Ritchie, president and co-owner of Ultimate Homes & Renovations.
“People need to do their homework a little bit more on the credibility and background of the company,” said Ritchie. “How long they’ve been in business, what their track record is, how much subcontracting they do.”
Here are four renovation nightmares you might encounter and, more importantly, how to avoid them:
1. Contractor takes a deposit then disappears
Consumer groups warn about smooth-talking, door-to-door contractors who offer to repair a roof or renovate a bathroom, accept a deposit and then are never heard from again.
Ritchie says people should never decide who to hire because “they like the salesman.”
He says get a business card, check them out first and then decide if it’s a good idea to hire someone who knocked on your door.
2. Costly “extras” start adding up
The price you are quoted is only useful if it spells out exactly what’s included. Otherwise, you might find yourself charged more during construction to get the renovation you actually wanted.
Ritchie says for a major renovation project, his company often provides the homeowner with a “scope of work” that includes 20 pages of specifications on the materials included, so there are no surprises.
“Even to the point of saying how many pot lights will be put into a kitchen, and not just (an amount) for electrical,” he said.
3. Renovation is taking forever
Ritchie says a disreputable renovator might tell a person “what they want to hear” when it comes to how long a project will take, regardless of whether that timeframe is realistic or not
“Quite often, I’ll tell a customer that it’s going to take three or four months to do this job, and they’ll turn around and tell me, ‘the other guy said he can do it in three to six
weeks,’ ” he said.
He adds a typical kitchen renovation takes two to three months – not two to three weeks – so be wary of anyone who promises such a tight turnaround.
4. Renovator doesn’t back up their workmanship
After a renovation is complete, there are bound to be a few things that might need a follow-up visit to fix or touch up, so a contractor who doesn’t respond will leave the homeowner in the lurch.
Ritchie says being a member of the RenoMark program is a good indicator that a company stands behind its workmanship, since the program’s code of conduct requires companies to offer at least a two-year warranty on a renovation.
Courtesy of CREB
City of Calgary, January 2, 2019 -As oversupply continues in Calgary’s housing market, December prices eased by one per cent compared to last month and are over three per cent below last December.
“Persistent weakness in the job market and changes in the lending market impacted sales activity in the resale market this year,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
“This contributed to elevated supply in the resale market, resulting in price declines.”
December sales totalled 794 units, a 21 per cent decline over the previous year. Overall year-to-date sales in the city totalled 16,144 units. This is a 14 per cent decline over 2017 and nearly 20 per cent below long-term averages.
Inventory levels in December sat at 4,904 units. This is well above levels recorded last year and 30 per cent above typical levels for the month. Elevated resale inventories in 2018 were caused by gains in the detached and attached sectors.
Throughout 2018, the months of supply remained elevated and averaged 5.2 months. This contributed to the annual average benchmark price decline of 1.5 per cent. Price declines occurred across all product types and have caused citywide figures to remain over nine per cent below the monthly highs recorded in 2014.
“Both buyers and sellers faced adjustments in expectations this year. Sellers had to compete with more choice in the resale market, but also the new-home market,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott.
“With less people looking for a home, it became a choice between delaying when to sell or adjusting the sale price. However, buyers looking for more affordable product did not find the same price adjustments that existed in some of the higher price ranges.”
More information on the 2018 housing market will be released at CREB®’s 2019Forecast Conference & Tradeshow(www.crebforecast.com) on Jan. 30, 2019.
HOUSING MARKET FACTS
•Detached sales declined across all districts in 2018. With citywide sales of 9,945 units, activity remains 21 per cent below typical levels for the year.
•Detached inventories were higher than last year’s levels for each month of the year, including December. Slow sales caused the market to be oversupplied through most of 2018.
•Detached benchmark prices totalled $481,400 in December, a one per cent decline over last month and a three per cent decline over last year. Overall, 2018 prices declined by 1.5 per cent compared to last year.
•Prices have eased across most districts in 2018. The largest declines this year have occurred in the North East, North West and North districts.
•Apartment sales totalled 2,663 units in 2018. While the decline is less than other product types, levels are 22 per cent below long-term averages.
•The apartment condominium sector has struggled with oversupply for almost three years and 2018 was no exception.
•However, supply has been easing, as inventories this year averaged 1,584 units, one per cent below last year’s levels.
•Despite slowing supply growth, the market remained oversupplied, causing further price declines. In December, benchmark prices were $251,500, over two per cent below last year. Annually, prices have declined by nearly three per cent for a total decline of 14 per cent since 2014.
•Price declines this year have ranged from a high of nearly six per cent in the East district to a low of two per cent in both the City Centre and North West districts.
•Declines for both row and semi-detached product resulted in 2018 attached sales of 3,536 units, a 15 per cent decline over the previous year and 14 per cent below long-term averages.
•Slower sales activity prompted some pull-back in new listings, but this was limited to the row sector. Row new listings declined by four per cent and semi-detached new listings rose by nearly 15 per cent in 2018.
•Despite some adjustments to new listings, inventory levels remained elevated, keeping the market in buyers’ market territory and putting downward pressure on prices.
•In December, the semi-detached benchmark price totalled $397,500. This is a monthly and year-over-year decline of 0.8 and 3.8 per cent, respectively. Recent price declines have caused this sector to erase any of the gains that occurred last year, as 2018 prices remain just below 2017 levels. Overall, annual prices remain 1.4 per cent below 2014 peak levels.
•Row prices have also been edging down. As of December, row prices were $288,400, a 1.5 per cent decline from last month and nearly four per cent below last year’s levels. Overall, 2018 prices remain two per cent below last year’s levels and nearly 10 per cent below previous highs.
You can download the complete statistics package HERE.
Wishing everyone a very
Healthy, Happy & Prosperous
Courtesy of CREB
City of Calgary, December 3, 2018 - Sitting below long-term averages, November sales in the city totaled 1,171 units.
For the year so far, sales activity has totaled 15,349 units, a 14 per cent decline over last year and nearly 20 per cent below long-term averages.
“Recent challenges in the energy sector have weighed on consumer confidence over the past month. Combined with weakness in the employment market and further gains in lending rates, this is impacting ownership demand,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
New listings eased by seven per cent in November compared to last year. The adjustment in new listings has helped prevent further inventory gains, with 6,501 units in overall inventory, but levels remain well above the 5,683 units in inventory seen last year and 32 per cent higher than typical levels for November.
“Higher inventories and weaker sales are resulting in buyer’s market conditions and price declines,” said Lurie.
The citywide benchmark price was $422,600 in November, nearly one per cent lower than last month and over three per cent below last year’s levels.
Year-to-date sales have slowed across all price ranges, except product priced below $200,000, which now represents nearly six per cent of all sales. The largest decline in sales has occurred in the $600,000 -$999,9999 range.
“In any market, affordable product is always desirable,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott.
“For buyers, it may mean being able to step into a home that was previously unattainable. It also means that sellers need to be keenly aware what is successfully selling in their neighbourhood and surrounding communities.”
HOUSING MARKET FACTS
• Detached sales declined across all districts in November. With citywide sales of 679 units, activity remains 21 per cent below typical levels for the month.
• New listings eased by three per cent compared to last year, due to declines mostly in the North East, North and South East districts. Year-to-date new listings this year have increased in all areas except the North East and East districts.
• Inventories in the detached sector totalled 3,491 units, 26 per cent higher than last year’s levels. Months of supply sits at five months, well above the three-month typical for November.
• Detached benchmark prices totalled $486,000 in November, a one per cent decline over last month and a three per cent decline over last year. This is nearly seven per cent below monthly highs recorded in October 2014.
• Prices have eased across all districts in November. On a year-to-date basis, the largest declines this year have occurred in the North East and North districts. This is likely due to the increased competition from the new-home sector. The districts that remain furthest from price recovery are the North West and South districts.
• Despite year-over-year gains in sales in November, citywide apartment sales have totalled 2,557 units so far this year. This is five per cent lower than last year and 21 per cent below long-term averages.
• The majority of activity in condos is located within the city centre, representing nearly 48 per cent of all the sales activity.
• Following years of oversupply, the number of new listings in the apartment sector continues to ease, helping prevent further significant gains in inventories and even contributing to inventory reductions in the South, East and North East districts.
• Despite some adjustments in inventories, most areas continue to struggle with oversupply, causing further price declines. Price declines this year have ranged from a high of nearly six per cent in the East district to a low of two per cent in both the City Centre and North West districts.
• Year-to-date attached sales totalled 3,344 units, a 16 per cent decline over the previous year and 14 per cent below long-term averages. Sales activity eased across most districts except for the North East, where sales remained relatively stable because of improvements in row activity.
• Overall, rising new listings continue to place upward pressure on inventory levels and the gains have mostly occurred with semi-detached product.
• Oversupply conditions have weighed on prices. In November, the semi-detached benchmark price totalled $400,700. This is a monthly and year-over year decline of 0.67 and 3.3 per cent, respectively. Recent price declines have caused this sector to erase any of the gains that occurred last year, as year-to-date prices remain comparable to 2017 levels.
• Row prices have also been edging down, but at a slower pace than semi-detached product. As of November, row prices were $292,900, a 0.2 per cent decline from last month and just over three per cent below last year’s levels. Overall, year-to-date prices remain nearly two per cent below last year’s levels and nearly 10 per cent below previous highs.
You can download the complete statistics package HERE.
Courtesy of CREB. By Mario Toneguzzi-Nov. 16, 2018
If you’re looking to enter the condo market in Calgary these days, there’s certainly a lot of choice available among new apartment-style condos and those on the resale market
As of the end of October, year-to-date MLS® System sales totalled 2,316 units, down 6.5 per cent compared with the same period a year ago, and the inventory of properties for sale sat at 1,666 units, which was up by 0.75 per cent.
However, the most telling number is months of supply. The months of supply indicate how long it would take to sell all the homes listed for sale given the current demand. At the end of October, it stood at an elevated 7.12 months, up 1.56 per cent from a year ago.
James Cuddy, senior market analyst with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), said Calgary, and all of Alberta, is still feeling the effects of the most recent recession.“Inventories were quite high, but have come down considerably since about March 2017, when we saw the inventory peak for apartment-type units.” – James Cuddy, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
“Ultimately, there was a lot of activity leading up to the recession. Once the oil price shock hit (in the latter half of 2014), it kind of pulled the demand out of the market and really the end result was an imbalance between supply and demand,” said Cuddy.
“But a lot of the inventory has come down quite a bit since a year and a half ago when it was quite high.”
Here are the latest numbers from CMHC on multi-family housing starts in the Calgary region up until the end of October:
- Semi-detached starts have fallen to 1,060 from 1,120 a year ago
- Row starts are down from 1,322 last year to 1,210 this year
- Apartment starts have risen to 4,066 from 3,221 in 2017
- The number of semi-detached homes under construction was 826
- The number of row homes under construction was 1,346
- The number of apartments under construction was 7,443
“Inventories were quite high, but have come down considerably since about March 2017, when we saw the inventory peak for apartment-type units,” said Cuddy. “Absorption has moved at a good pace since the height of the recession for condos.”
Courtey of CREB.
Like much of the housing market in Calgary’s slowly recovering economy, the condo segment has seen below average sales volumes and higher than average availability so far this year. However, many of the city’s developers remain bullish about the condo market’s future.
Charron Ungar – CEO, Homes by Avi
“ We know jobs push housing demand and multi-family housing is one of the fastest moving product sectors for newcomers to town, the newly employed and downsizers. If job security and a strong resale market take hold, available multi-family product will attract considerable buyer attention. Now is a great time to buy, particularly as interest rates are still low compared to where lending rates are predicted to trend. Calgary’s current inventory levels offer great variety and deep incentives, but I recommend keeping an eye on the price of Canadian crude and its ability to get to market – once that starts to rise, today’s buyers’ market will quickly begin to dry up.”
Ryan Bosa – president, Bosa Development
“Bosa set its sights on Calgary a number of years ago because we saw the potential to lead smart growth, creating developments that are urban focal points and change the way people live. Our commitment to Calgary and the communities in which we build is long term, and we respect the city’s resilience. We are big-picture thinkers and have immersed ourselves in the city to truly understand the impact of economic cycles – and we prepare and plan accordingly.”
Mike Bucci – vice-president, Bucci Developments
“In 2008, prices dropped 20 to 30 per cent, but today’s developers are better financed so you won’t see those price drops. People are renting longer, but are savvy, realizing there are few new projects. We are seeing a lot of interest in Bridgeland (with Radius). We are very optimistic about Calgary and continue to invest millions of dollars. Migration is strong, job growth is strong, and we believe 2019 is going to be a pretty strong year for condos.”
Norah Fraser – director sales/marketing, Minto Communities
“Calgary’s community-minded nature is only becoming stronger, and people, more-and-more, want to live in closer proximity, fostering that sense of community. The condo lifestyle is one of the best ways for the urbanist to embrace all aspects of living inner city. While this economic recovery might not be as quick as some prior, it’s becoming more stable every day. As we climb out of this downturn together, we are confident and excited to be able to offer the city an affordable way to be a part of a community in a convenient, urban and desirable way.”
Chris Pollen – director sales/marketing, Battistella Developments
“Battistella has always believed in Calgary and the potential of the inner city. The market has been challenged over the past few years, but there is opportunity in every market. We believe we are at the start of a new condo construction cycle in Calgary. Projects typically take three to four years from sales launch to possession. In the inner city, we haven’t had a concrete condo launch since 2015 – we are excited to include Nude as part of the next wave. There are many buyers who want to buy into a new development and continue to save and wait for completion in a few years.”
Are you thinking about a place to get away from winter? A second home where you can relax away from the snow and cold? Consider San Antonio, Texas. Great weather, great people.
Single Family Homes - United States - Texas
Location: 17155 Turin Ridge, San Antonio, TX, United States
Breathtaking views of the Hill Country and the Cedar Creek Golf Course await from hillside homesites at Sonoma Mesa in San Antonio. Residents can also enjoy close proximity to retail, dining and entertainment at The Shops at La Cantera, The Rim and Fiesta Texas in this gated community. Plus, homeowners benefit from the incredible energy efficiency of a PowerSmart home.
Behind the entry gates of Sonoma Mesa are hillside homesites and picturesque vistas of nearby golf courses, along with spacious greenbelts. You will be captivated by the native beauty of San Antonio in a community that also offers the convenience of close proximity to shops, restaurants and entertainment.
Homes range in size from 260 to 366 square meters, with numerous design touches for beauty and practicality — such as ceramic tile in the kitchen and breakfast area, granite countertops, climate controlled master closet, overhead cabinets for added storage and weatherproof exterior outlets. Also, offered is the popular PowerSmart Home which is individually inspected and tested by an independent third-party engineering firm to rate and confirm energy efficiency. Another exclusive offering from the builder are thousands of dollars in extras simply included with each home, providing great value and the latest in luxury, technology and efficiency. Among the items throughout the home: built-in appliance package, recessed lighting, cultured marble vanities, chair rail in dining room, cast stone fireplace surround, full security system with motion detector and two keypads, programmable thermostat with humidity control, and much more.
17155 Turin Ridge, San Antonio, TX, United States
For more information on this or many other peoerties in the U.S., click HERE.
Courtesy of CREB. By Gerald Vander Pyl
Breaking New Ground
On a cold February day in 1968, a fleet of heavy equipment began stripping the prairie grass from a tract of land in southeast Calgary for a new community.
But any spectators to the activity might have been surprised when the machines started excavating deep into the ground.
It was the unlikely beginnings of Lake Bonavista, a new neighbourhood built by legendary builder and developer E.V. Keith that would become the first manmade lake community in Canada. Calgary now has almost a dozen lake communities, but back in the late 1960s it was a radical idea.
“Crazy,” is how Les Cosman recalled the reaction from most people to Keith’s plans, formed after he took an airplane flight over some early lake communities in Los Angeles.
“Every year he would look at the California market to see what was going on, because it was so big relative to our market,” said Cosman, who would eventually become CEO of Genstar, which bought Keith Construction when Keith’s declining health caused him to step away from his businesses.
“He saw lake developments down there and he came back and decided we were going to build a lake.”
Cosman says Keith had already shocked the local real estate scene by building Willow Park, Calgary’s first golf course community.
“Like everything else, he came up with an idea,” he said. “Pardon the expression, but (Lake Bonavista) was breaking new ground.”
In 1968, after months of excavating, the 52-acre Lake Bonavista was created along with a 25-acre park that included a 65-foot hill with a waterfall.
A second lake, Bonaventure, was added afterwards.
“Keith was a visionary,” said Cosman.
“He had a reputation as a gambler, but he always gambled with his own money and not somebody else’s.”
“LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE, HE CAME UP WITH AN IDEA. PARDON THE EXPRESSION, BUT (LAKE BONAVISTA) WAS BREAKING NEW GROUND.” – LES COSMAN, FORMER CEO OF GENSTAR DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
Beverly Sandalack, associate dean and professor of landscape architecture and planning in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, says in land-locked Alberta, “water is a real drawing feature, for both living and recreation.”
“I think it did start trends,” she said, adding you only need to check Google Maps to see the numbers of manmade lakes that have been built in the city since Lake Bonavista.
“I can totally understand their appeal, and if you have a family, it must be totally fantastic to have that in your backyard.”
But Sandalack also wonders what the future holds for lake communities, as climate change makes water a more and more valuable resource.
She says in her department at the University of Calgary, “we talk a lot about what the 21st-century city is going to look like, and on the Prairies, it is just not going to be built around lakes.”
That being said, the appeal of Calgary’s current lake communities remains strong.
Mike Mikkelson recalls spending many happy days at Lake Bonavista as a child.
Although his family lived in northwest Calgary, an aunt and uncle bought one of the first homes in Lake Bonavista, and he was a frequent visitor.
Mikkelson says even then, “it was always in the back of my mind that one day I would move to (Lake) Bonavista.”
That finally happened in 1995, and Mikkelson is now the president of the Lake Bonavista Homeowners Association, whose volunteer board oversees operation of the lake and surrounding parkland.
“When Keith built the lake in 1968, he created the home owners association to be stewards of the lake and the park – to manage and take care of his legacy and what he created,” said Mikkelson.
The association recently began construction of a new $2-million, 7,500-square-foot community building to replace the original one built in the late 1960s.
Mikkelson says Lake Bonavista remains a great community in which to live, with many schools, churches, a shopping centre, easy access, and desirable homes that retain their property value.
“But (the lake) is the centre piece,” he said. “People are moving back to the community for a lot of reasons, but I think most are coming for the lake.”
With office vacancy rates in Calgary still at near-peak levels, companies are converting entire office towers into residential buildings to appeal to a different type of tenant.
Ken Toews is vice-president of development with Strategic Group, which is currently redeveloping four office buildings in Alberta for residential use and has plans for two more.
Included are the Barron, an 11-storey Art Deco tower along Calgary’s Stephen Avenue that will have 93 residential rental suites along with office and retail space, and Cube, a seven-storey building in the Beltline being converted into 65 rental suites.
Toews says Strategic Group is very entrepreneurial, so given the weak market for office space rentals, it sought a different use for some of its buildings.
“Where the building is the right size and in the right location, we have been converting from office to residential,” he said.
He says conversions are still quite rare in Canada, but they have been more common in places like Chicago, which he toured while planning the company’s Alberta projects.
“There’s a whole bunch of things that you have to do right to make them work,” he said.
Strategic Group’s conversions will include things like rooftop amenity spaces, ground-floor retail and even an entire new residential building to accompany the office building being converted.
“We’re not really a cookie-cutter-type company,” said Toews. “We adapt our projects to the neighbourhood and the people who are going to be tenants.”
Bruce McKenzie – vice-president of business development at the Calgary office of architectural, engineering and planning company NORR – says when B Class office buildings could be bought for less than the cost of new construction, “a lot of clients were coming to us and saying, ‘what could I do with this (building)? I could buy it so cheap.’ ”
McKenzie says they worked on more than 20 projects, but converting a building designed for office use into residential has many challenges.
He says the typical “floor plate” of an office building is much larger and deeper than a residential building, making it difficult to design suites with natural lighting from outside windows.
Many B Class office buildings were built using post-tension construction, so drilling into the floor slabs to install plumbing needed for numerous suites is dangerous and costly.
Former office buildings might also lack sufficient parking for residents, or their older mechanical systems might need to be completely replaced.
McKenzie says many companies contemplating an office to residential conversion eventually decided to walk away from a prospective purchase due to the challenges.
Still, companies are finding the right combination of factors to go ahead with certain projects.
Toews says the first residents are expected to move into Cube by March 2019 and the Barron in 2020, bringing new residents into the downtown core.
“We’re big believers in Calgary’s downtown,” he said. “The great thing about converting office buildings into residential is actually getting more people living in downtown. The whole vibrancy of downtown is really important.”
Courtesy of CREB
City of Calgary, October 1, 2018 – With no change in the economic climate, Calgary’s sales activity totaled 1,273 units in September, a 13 per cent decline over the previous year and well below long-term averages. There was a pullback in sales across all product types, most notably the detached market.
“Calgary’s economy continues to struggle with unemployment, which rose again last month to over eight per cent. Concerns in the employment market, higher lending rates and shaken confidence are weighing on housing demand,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
“At the same time, supply levels continue to remain high, resulting in persistent oversupply and price declines.”
Inventories totaled 7,941 units, pushing the months of supply to 6.25. This continuation in oversupply is placing downward pressure on prices. The unadjusted citywide benchmark price totaled $428,700 in September. This is nearly one per cent below last month and three per cent below last year’s levels.
“This is the new normal of Calgary’s real estate,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott.
“Some potential buyers may want to take advantage of the market conditions, but they face difficulties selling their existing home based on their expectations. This prevents them from purchasing something else.”
September sales have dipped, but third quarter figures generally point towards a slower decline in sales and some easing in new listings growth. This was not enough to impact inventory levels this quarter.
The Calgary economy continues to struggle, but there are some signs of improvement in the rental market, which could contribute to a slow reduction in overall housing supply.
HOUSING MARKET FACTS
- Year-to-date sales eased to 7,945 units, over 20 per cent below the 10-year average. Sales eased across all price ranges, except properties under $300,000, which posted a modest gain.
- Easing sales were met with some adjustments in new listings in September. However, inventories remain elevated and are higher than long-term averages in most districts.
- Months of supply rose to 5.5 months in September and continue to weigh on housing prices across all districts.
- Detached benchmark prices totaled $493,100 in September. This is a 0.8 per cent decline over last month and three per cent below the previous year.
- Prices have trended down in most districts in September. However, on a year-to-date basis, benchmark prices remain above last year in both the City Centre and West districts.
- The apartment sector has seen the slowest decline in sales at six per cent so far this year. Like the detached sector, activity remains over 20 per cent below long-term averages, totaling 2,104 sales.
- For the fourth month in a row, new listings have generally trended lower than levels recorded last year. This has helped reduce some of the inventory in the market compared to the previous year.
- However, even with some reductions in inventory levels, the market continues to remain firmly in buyer’s territory when compared to the reduction in sales.
- With more supply than demand, benchmark prices for apartment condominium continued to ease in September, declining by 0.4 per cent over last month and 2.7 per cent compared to last year.
- The attached sector has recorded year-to-date sales of 2,814. This is 15 per cent below last year and 14 per cent below long-term averages.
- With no significant reduction in new listings, inventory levels remained elevated, pushing up months of supply to over seven months.
- Elevated levels of supply compared to demand persisted for both row and semi-detached product types. Like all other sectors, the oversupply has weighed on prices across all districts, except the City Centre, North East and East.
- While September semi-detached benchmark prices eased, year-to-date prices remained just above last year’s levels. The recent oversupply has eroded some of the steps made toward price recovery last year.
- Row benchmark prices have averaged $298,667 this year, nearly two per cent below last year and nine per cent below previous highs. Despite the citywide pullback, row prices have remained relatively stable in the City Centre, North West and South East districts.
You can download the complete statistics package HERE.