Category: economy (21)

sales-by-price-range-sept-2014Strong Condo sales aided by single family sales in the sub $1M range buoyed Calgary real estate market over the summer months. Buyers will appreciate that a gradual increase in inventory levels has created more selection and choice along with a less hectic pace to the process. Overall we are seeing the market calm down from the bell market we experienced over the past few years. While the forecast for jobs and in migration slows moderately over the next few years there still remains plenty of fuel for growth in the real estate market. Sectors that remain in hot demand are moderate priced homes and townhomes in walkable communities or good transit accessible areas. We also witness an increase in demand for moderate homes suitable for retirement lifestyles with amenities such as single level flats, accessibility (elevators), moderate sizes, low maintenance and security.

 

 

inventory-sept-2014We also are witnessing a greater demand for green and low energy features that are environmentally sensitive. Expect this trend to continue to grow as utilities consume a greater portion of the homeowner’s budget and concern for the environment becomes mainstream. Areas of the market we witness declining are large homes with less efficient maintenance requirements generally on acreages or not within walkable communities and usually over $1M price range. Looking forward we expect that the greater number of condo starts will begin to over supply this market over the next two year time frame. Also an increase in the cost of construction will place upward pressure on prices squeezing margins for developers. Look for a trend to more compact efficiently designed homes with a green influence along with new solutions for affordable housing including laneway housing, secondary suites and new density options for single family developers.

For detailed information of the Calgary Real estate market or a complimentary consultation call Sano Stante Real Estate at 403-289-3435

newplanThe Calgary Real Estate Board reports statistics that indicate we currently have six weeks of available single family inventory (Feb 13/19). The last time I recall our inventory of homes this low was in 2007 and everyone was discussing the critical state of the market. Of course this is a snapshot in time and we will not run out of homes to sell (while we had 447 sales, there were also 612 new listings that week), but it is an indicator of the status of our market, the relative level of inventory and an indication of a buyer or sellers market. In fact, one could assume that the actual level of inventory is even lower due to a CREB rule which does not enforce true reporting of status on their mls system (we don’t know how many homes are actually sold, as clients may instruct to retain an active status while under contract). So without over-analyzing this data, the bottom line is this: The market clearly favors sellers and if you were thinking of selling your real estate in the next while,  there may be no better time than now. We are negotiating record prices for most inner city real estate and even some suburban and acreage properties are selling that have been sitting on the shelf for many months. Where to start? Contact us to get a current state of the market assessment of the value of your home with no obligation and you will be armed with all the facts you need to make an informed decision. Who knows, you may look back in a year or so and marvel at your genius.

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With national forecasts citing an overheated market in decline and calling for a further correction in real estate values, it’s curious to watch the Calgary Real Estate market out-perform most every other City and region in the country. Much of this performance is due to the hang-over from the recent run of strong net in-migration, due to a buoyant job market in Alberta. The question is when will the hang-over end and will Calgary succumb to the negative national trend despite our favourable geography and oil economy?

Calgary employment  growth for 2013 is forecast to decline, yet remain positive at 2.3% with net migration for Calgary expected to slow to just over 15,000 over the next two years. This steady stream of new residents has fueled an increased demand for rental accommodation resulting in an apartment vacancy rate under 1.3%. This all points to a positive, yet somewhat reduced pace of activity that fuels the Calgary real estate market.

With the recent surge in rental activity and subsequent increase in rental rates one could be tempted to purchase rental property based on the recent higher returns, but are these rents sustainable for the long term? We advise that any rental properties are evaluated using conservative rent estimates especially those based on furnished rentals. Also note that vacancy for furnished rentals is similar to that of Hotel properties (in the 20-40% range) so don’t be fooled into using unfurnished vacancy rates and applying these to furnished properties, despite our current hot market. One exception could be buying rental properties that have a high component of land value, especially in inner city communities. These properties could derive good income from the building for many years, yet the land value may surpass its’ income value, if the trend toward inner-city community development continues.

Farmland also has potential as a solid income producing vehicle, but be sure to know what you’re buying. While crop rents have increased dramatically (proportional to crop prices), soil types, local geography, irrigation and overburdened crops all have a profound effect on the return a farmer can extract from a section of land. Again there may be other exit options for farm land such as future development potential or subdivision to smaller parcels. This can yield large returns but not for the faint of heart or uninitiated. If you are not the expert, be certain to obtain expert advice (the cost of which could yield you the best return for your investment).

One of the best strategies today for those who already hold real estate is to optimize your investment. That means reducing your operating costs and improving efficiency of the property. Some of the greatest benefits can be derived from reducing the energy requirements and  greening your real estate. This not only reduces your consumption and cost of energy, but also improves the desirability of your property. Green Calgary offers a valuable home audit that provides excellent advice on greening your home and reducing its energy footprint. With the cost of solar electric continuing to decline we are now coming into an age that photo-voltaic systems are becoming cost effective. It won’t be long before you may be asking “how much energy does this property generate and how much income does it produce?” Don’t overlook these possibilities and the potential value of solar exposure when evaluating your next  property.

Overall, it appears that the market may reduce from a rolling boil to a slow simmer over the next few years which calls for a return to a more sober, long term view of any real estate investment. Reducing operating costs could help you weather future bumps in the road, and exploring alternate exit strategies can add tremendous value if the need for Return Of Investment becomes more important than the need for Return On Investment.

calgary-sunsetCalgary real estate resembled a more vibrant market in 2012 with a good kick start in the early months of spring and finished the year with strong, yet cautious momentum. This sales trend was most noticed in the Luxury home category which picked up dramatically in the spring and has recently coasted into a bit of a lull. The mid and lower end home market gained traction and has calmed in recent months but remains the bread winner. A drop in the number of available MLS listings in this low/mid category has kept the supply in check and prices relatively firm. Condo apartment prices crept up 3% year to date and the recent influx of new condo builds is maintaining a good supply of product and holding the prices competitive. Continue reading ..

calgary-skylineThe media has been ripe lately with stories of how the real estate market in Canada is over-valued and is now cooling. If you lived in Vancouver of Toronto, you would think that this is a pretty accurate indication of reality. However, if you reside in Alberta or Saskatchewan, you are probably wondering what kind of drug these reporters are on because their world is bustling with jobs and activity. So what is the real story in the local Calgary real estate market?

First, the real estate market is local. Like the weather, listening to a report that the Canadian real estate market is preforming poorly is like hearing that the weather in Canada is bad. Certainly Calgary is influenced by the national economy, just as we are by the global economy (now more than ever). However, real estate is a local story. Calgary is leading the nation in job growth and net in-migration, which leads to demand for residential real estate. While the rest of the nation (even the western world) is struggling to create jobs, we can’t seem to find enough people to fill the posts. So, when you hear that the real estate market is cooling down, its akin to having your head in the freezer and your feet in the fire. On average your temperature is may be moderate or dropping, but it doesn’t accurately reflect what’s happening locally.

Our research indicates that we will continue to have strong demand for residential real estate for the next two years. Price gains should be gradual and moderate, however lately we are concerned about a reduction in available listings, bringing our months of inventory to under 3 months for single family and townhouse listings. If inventory continues to decline, this could cause some pressure on prices to increase. Keep in mind that although prices have been rising, they have been stable for the past quarter.

This local/national example also applies to your local neighbourhood and what is happening in Calgary does not always reflect what is happening in your local community, or your particular street. If you zoom into this level the trends that we’ve witnessed generally are:

  • In increase in demand and firming of prices in the inner city
  • Increased demand for lifestyle properties and walkable communities
  • Increased demand in adjacent, bedroom communities like Airdrie
  • Cooling of demand and softening of prices in the outlying suburbs.
  • Slowing demand for acreage properties
  • A trend to smaller, more practical and energy efficient homes

As well there are the usual seasonal trends, and of course you could discover trends for pockets within your community. An experienced real estate expert can assess all of these variables that affect the value of your property and more. If you would like to stay current on the values in your local neighborhood, we will send you updates of the sales and listing activity monthly in a convenient email report. If you would like a current market evaluation of your property, simply call us and we will be pleased to provide this for you, so can make the best most informed decision on your real estate investment.

 

mortgage-clamp-down-Sano-Stante-Real-EstateIn an effort to cool the consumers appetite for debt in this current low interest climate, the Fed’s have further tightened the screws on Bank lending. The Canadian Government’s “Financial Stability Board” has published new guidelines for underwriting mortgages. Following is a summary of the proposed changes which may take effect by September 2012:

  • Lines of credit should not exceed 65% of the homes value. While a customer can still borrow 80% LTV, at least 15% will need to be in an amortizing segment. Existing clients may be grandfathered but there will be some cases as it relates to structural changes in an existing loan plan where the new rule may apply.
  • For debt service coverage (TDS) at a minimum. the qualifying rate for all variable interest mortgages regardless of the term and fixed rate mortgages with a term of less than 5 years should be the greater of the contracted mortgage rate of the five year benchmark rate (Bank of Canada).
  • GDS Calculations will require supporting documents (tax, utility bills, etc) or clear and consistent benchmarks that adequately assess these additional costs.
  • Banks will be required to clearly define “non-conforming loans”. This may include some forms of equity, low documentation etc. In these cases LTV should not exceed 65%.

If you are contemplating taking a HLOC at 80% LTV now is the time to get your application processed before the new guidelines take effect. You may not need to use all the money, but better to have access to it and not use it, than to be clamped down to 65% LTV.

For more information on this, or other Calgary real estate facts call us anytime 403-289-3435

Tighten Your Belt - AusterityThe grumbling in the hall is that the latest action by the Feds will temper home prices. What they are referring to is Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s four point move: to to reduce the maximum amortization period of a CMHC insured mortgage to 25 years from 30 years. The maximum amount of equity homeowners can take out of their homes in a refinancing is being reduced to 80 per cent from 85 per cent. The availability of government-backed mortgages will be limited to homes with a purchase price of less than $1-million and the maximum gross debt service ratio will be fixed at 39 per cent and the maximum total debt service ratio at 44 per cent.

Many major banks economists have heralded forecasts that this latest move could reduce home prices by a further 3 to 6 percent, a forecast that may hold some weight in the major centers of Toronto and Vancouver, but not for the reasons cited. Some reports go as far as adding a disclosure that this only applies to the Toronto and Vancouver markets.

While we agree that the Vancouver and Toronto markets are set for a retraction (we’ve been waiting) it would not be due to any of the actions of Mr Flaherty. These major centers have been overheated for the past few years driven primarily by some heavy in-migration from Asia and India. Insiders reveal that officials have tightened down on the flow of new immigrants and this has has an immediate impact on the bidding wars that wealthy Asians have created (often amongst themselves) in Vancouver.  I have some difficulty believing that a reduction in the amortization of  CMHC loans has much to do with this retraction in Vancouver but the public and some media will speculate on the cause and effect. Calgary (Alberta and Saskatoon) is poised to buck the retraction that is predicted for Vancouver and Toronto because these regions (rich in resources) are set for a massive surge in new employment and in-migration that will fuel the local housing markets for several years.

In our practice we advise Buyers to obtain mortgages below the 25 year normal amortization period to save a tremendous amount of interest. Buy the perfect home – even pay more for a better home that will serve your family for a lifetime and mine your mortgage internally for massive savings in interest.  These savings are compounded after tax because the dollar you don’t need to spend on a mortgage payment is a dollar fifty that you don’t need to earn. The practise of placing a down payment of a minimum 25% is also prudent and ensures buyers don’t buy before they can actually afford to own.

In all,  the four point measures introduced by the government to blow off some steam on the housing market relate to good sound financial planning for all Canadian households. These measures will guide new home-buyers to be more patient, a bit more prudent in their finances and not to overstep their ability to repay their debt if and when interest rates increase. When the current low interest rate regime loosens this should allow homeowners to afford the slight increases we  expect in the future without a major disruption to their finances and they can continue to enjoy owning the homes they worked so hard to acquire. In the Calgary market we expect the resulting impact to be minor. In fact, the immediate impact may be an initial rush of fringe buyers and the long term impact merely a healthy restraint to the real estate market.

 

 

Calculate the return

Return on real estate investment

Understanding how to calculate the return on a real estate investment can be instrumental to ensure that you make the best use of your resources. To understand the basics use the following guidelines:

The standard of measurement is to use annual net operating income (NOI) on a care-free basis when comparing real estate against other investments. That is, any costs involved in the real estate investment should be accounted for so that the real estate investment is hands-off, or “carefree”. The costs of maintenance, management or accounting, etc to manage your real estate must be deducted to arrive at the NOI. Even if you are quite capable and enjoy performing the maintenance or management of your investment real estate, you must allocate an equivalent cost for someone to perform these tasks to arrive at a net operating income. Other costs that you will want to ensure are captured will be taxes, insurance, utilities, vacancy allowance, advertising, licensing and supplies. Then when you have arrived at your true annual NOI you can calculate the capitalization rate or “cap rate”. To do this, take the annual NOI and divide this number by the current value of the property.

For example, if you purchased a rental property for $400,000 that brought:
$2200 gross rents per month or $26,400 in gross annual rent

Your expenses cost you:
Taxes  $2,300
Insurance  $500
Maintenance $1,200
Management $1,200
Vacancy Allowance $1,200
Advertising $100

Less Total Expenses: $6,600 annually

($26,400 – $6,600) Net Operating Income = $19,700

To calculate the cap rate divide the income by the value of the property:

$19,700/$400,000 *100 = 4.9%

So the cash flow from this property is returning you 4.9% on a care-free basis. This is now a good basis to measure the return of your real estate portfolio against GIC’s, stocks and other care-free investments.

What the cap rate does not anticipate or calculate is capital gains in the increase of the value of your real estate holdings and this would be in addition to the cap rate calculation. Real estate has historically appreciated in value over the long term so it is a fairly safe assumption that you will realize some additional appreciation from your investment. However, even with no capital appreciation, you may be satisfied with a reasonable cap rate.

Sano Stante is a CCIM which is the accepted gold standard for commercial investment real estate practitioners. For advice on investing in Calgary real estate contact Sano Stante real estate

 

 

early-signs-of-spring-marketCalgary’s warm weather is pushing up more than daisies this spring. Home buyers appear to beating a steady path to Calgary in search of new employment and the new optimism in Alberta’s economy is providing traction to our real estate sector.

Last month, single family home sales increased 17% over March 2011 and Condo sales increased over 7% from the previous year. Coupled with an overall reduction of 1.8% in new listings the effect is to shift the advantage from a Buyers’ market to a Seller’s market in many sectors. We”ve witnessed a marked increase in the inner city especially in the market for 50’ sub-dividable lots which is now attracting multiple offers on properties which are priced correctly. Overall, we expect the resurgence in the market to continue to gain solid momentum this year as demand continues to pick up with increased in migration to supply new jobs. The only speed bumps in sight for the near term would be significant increases in mortgage interest rates. For more details view the full CREB market update.

longview3According to figures released todayby CREB® (Calgary Real Estate Board), Calgary residential sales in 2011 increased eight per cent over last year, with 18,568 sales for 2011 compared to 17,267 in 2010.

Sales activity was tepid in the first half of the year, however, early improvement in employment and migration resulted in a pickup in housing demand in the second half of the year. By the end of June 2011, year-to-date sales activity had only increased by two per cent compared to the second half of the year, where residential sales improved by 15 per cent.

“While sales activity in 2011 remained below the long run average by 17 per cent, monthly figures point towards the trend of this gap narrowing,” says Sano Stante, president of CREB®.

To view the full report see creb.com