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Is this another Ugly and Costly condo trend?

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Reprinted From the Alberta Condo Network Newsletter

Alberta Condo Network - Redacted Condo Documents and the Costly Trend

Alberta Condo Network – Redacted Condo Documents and the Costly Trend

We’re hearing of condo boards, managers, lawyers, and other condo industry insiders, arbitrarily, at will, with no permission from condo owners, or approval from anyone to do so, selectively and subjectively “REDACTING” (fancy word for removing, eliminating, doctoring, sanitizing, not disclosing) information related to: events, issues, actions, and decisions made by condo boards as they represent our condo corporations which are our homes.

This redacting often takes place on condo board meeting minutes or AGM minutes although it is not limited to those documents. The rationale used for “doctoring” or sanitizing documents is that disclosing certain information might violate the Privacy Act or information that is “legal”. That rationale, on something this serious for condo owners, is nonsense because there is a way to describe sensitive issues if the political and industry will was there to do it!

This redacting trend could be particularly damaging to both NEW and EXISTING condo owners because it could cause significant legal and financial grief. Here’s what could happen…
Consider that the purpose of recording minutes, of any kind, for any entity, is to capture a TRUTHFUL and COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE ENTITY: in our case, A TRUTHFUL AND COMPLETE recording of events, issues, actions and decisions made by our condo boards on behalf of our condo corporation/our homes.
Wouldn’t you want to know if your condo board (among MANY other things):


Edmonton: How To Bounce Back After a Real Estate Crisis

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

YOURS TRULY and Edmonton, were just featured in an interview by Point2Homes.com. Check out the  interview and what we discussed.

If you’re looking to buy real estate, we advise you to sit down with a passionate agent, for a long talk. The information and perspective you’ll learn is simply invaluable. We did just that, with expert agent Jeanine Osborne (and her gorgeous cat). Read her excellent insights into the Edmonton real estate market, from condominiums to foreclosures, and everything in between.

Expert agent Jeanine Osborne talks Edmonton real estate.

Tell us a few words about your job as a real estate professional? What do you love most about your job?


REMAX 2017 Spring Market Trends Report

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Toronto buyers, are looking for greater affordability in markets across southern Ontario. In turn, they are driving price appreciation in Mississauga, Brampton, Durham, Barrie, Hamilton-Burlington, Windsor, and as far away as Kingston. The GTA saw the average residential sale price rise by 29 per cent, up from $675,492 in the first quarter of 2016 to $873,631 during the same period in 2017.

At the same time, housing demand has slowed in Greater Vancouver compared to Q1 of 2016, and the average residential sale price decreased 11 per cent year-over-year, from $1,094,936 in the first quarter of 2016 to $969,900 in 2017. The decline in average sale price is in part due to the introduction of the foreign buyer tax last August, a relatively severe winter and the natural stabilization of prices after the market reached a high point in May 2016. Move-over buyers from Vancouver and buyers migrating from other provinces continue to fuel activity in Fraser Valley, Kelowna, and in Victoria, particularly in the upper-end of the market due to relative affordability in these regions.


RECA Kicks Off Fraud Prevention Month by Urging Albertans to Dig Deeper

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Calgary, Alberta – As this year’s Fraud Prevention Month begins, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is urging Albertans to dig deeper when a real estate or mortgage deal seems too good to be true.

As the licensing and regulatory body for Alberta’s 15,000 real estate, mortgage brokerage and real estate appraisal professionals, RECA’s mandate includes protecting against, investigating, detecting, and suppressing mortgage fraud. RECA has extensive information and resources for consumers that can help them avoid being targets.

“Consumers have the power to protect themselves from opportunistic fraudsters,” says Christine Zwozdesky, RECA Chair. “We encourage consumers to dig deeper for more information if something sounds too good to be true.”

  • having financial difficulty related to your mortgage? Someone offering you “an easy way out”? Find out if the person offering to help you is a licensed real estate or mortgage brokerage professional. “Search for an industry professional” at www.reca.ca
  • read contracts and other documents carefully. Make sure you understand what you’re signing; if you don’t, ask questions. If you don’t like the answers – look for help or information elsewhere
  • do a web search for the names of the individuals offering to help you out. If the person you’re dealing with has a history of fraud, their old victims have likely warned the world online

Zwozdesky adds, “Part of RECA’s mandate is consumer protection, and providing Albertans with credible, independent information about mortgage fraud prevention and awareness is one way we can do that.”

Do your research, ask questions, and most of all, make sure you’re working with a licensed mortgage or real estate professional. Their extensive knowledge, experience, and training can help you avoid scams.

Mortgage fraud awareness and prevention resources for consumers are available now on RECA’s website. RECA will be participating in Fraud Prevention Month activities throughout March.

The authority for a positive real estate experience

Why Investing in Homeownership Will Make You a Better Albertan.

Friday, February 24th, 2017

February 24 2017

Homes provide shelter and refuge, but they are also most Albertan homeowners’ single largest investment. Housing represents 47% of total assets for the average Alberta family – much higher than stock market investments and pension plans combined (29%). Why is this important? Homeownership benefits the economy as well as individual homeowners. Let’s look at this in the context of the most recent stats on Alberta’s real estate, reported by the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Investing in housing in Alberta is better than buying stocks

Over the last 18 years, house price appreciation in Alberta has outpaced Toronto stock market returns. Between 1999 and 2016, with average annual residential sales of roughly 57,000, house price growth in Alberta (6.6%) outpaced yearly returns on stocks traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (6.4%).

Average residential prices up 3.1% in Alberta in January

Total residential sales across the province were up 17.7% year-over-year, totalling 2,679 resale transactions in January 2016. Roughly 3.4 out of every 10 newly listed homes were sold, translating into a sales-to-new listings ratio (SNLR) of 34%. And the average residential sales price rose 3.1%, to $383,040.

Increased home equity = increased net worth

What’s so great about house prices being up? Rising house prices mean homeowners are building equity in their homes. Home equity represents the current market value of the house, minus any remaining mortgage payments. Equity is built over time as the homeowner pays off their mortgage and fluctuates with the market value.

Rising home equity benefits homeowners individually, and the Alberta economy as a whole. By how much? More than $40 billion in 2016.

Calculating Returns to Equity

Using Statistics Canada’s data on Alberta homeowners’ mortgage balances (Surveys of Financial Security), we calculated equity shares by age group. Equity shares multiplied by user costs (average two-bedroom apartment rents used as proxy) provided the income generated (returns to equity) per homeowner, by age class. The annual income generated by homeownership was then derived by multiplying the number of homeowners by age group in Alberta with returns to equity per homeowner.

For those under 35, the income generated by homeownership reached $11,000 a year per homeowner

Over the past five years (2012-2016), the annual income generated by homeownership averaged roughly $57,000 per homeowner (all ages) in Alberta. Returns on equity per homeowner ranged from annual income generation of $11,000 for homeowners under the age of 35 (generally considered as first-time buyers), to roughly $14,000 for those above 65 (annual average).

REALTOR® Tip: First-time buyers build equity in their home as they pay off their mortgage – roughly $11k a year!

Collectively, annual returns on equity (ROE) for all homeowners in Alberta reached roughly 38 billion dollars, or 12% of GDP

Thirty-eight billion dollars a year represents roughly 12% of Alberta’s nominal GDP and 85% of Government of Alberta’s annual revenues. When people build equity in their homes, they borrow against that equity through a home equity loan, or home equity line of credit. An increase in the value of their homes increases the amount of collateral available to households, leading to higher credit. Rising house prices, which imply higher housing equity, may encourage consumers to borrow more, causing a rise in consumer spending. Looking at the data, we know this to be true.

For every $1 rise in housing prices, Albertan homeowners raise their personal spending by 6.7 cents – collectively $5 billion a year

The increase in consumer spending following a rise in in house prices has been referred to as the marginal propensity to consume (MPC) from housing wealth. We found that, for every $1 increase in average residential prices, Albertans raise their personal spending by 6.7 cents, which collectively amounts to roughly $5 billion a year (2012-2016 average).

Five billion dollars a year is 1.5% of provincial GDP, and 11% of government revenues. This is a significant boost to Alberta’s economy. A 3.1% price gain, like the one we just saw in Alberta this January, equals an average increase of $11,420. The associated rise in consumer spending that could come out of that is $868 per homeowner per month, or $10,415 per homeowner per year, or a collective increase of $616 million a year.


Regine Durand


Alberta Real Estate Association

Why should You do business with a Remax® REALTOR®?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

RE/MAX® versus the Edmonton Real Estate Industry

RE/MAX® holds the number one position in Edmonton with 41.72% of all sales in Edmonton involving a REMAX® REALTOR®.

Alberta Real Estate Market Reports – January 2017 Edition

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Click here for the full monthly report, including additional details on the outlook for Alberta’s housing market in 2017.

I. Alberta MLS® Trends

A total of 2,612 Alberta residential unit sales were recorded through the MLS® Systems of real estate Boards/Associations in December, rising 3.2 per cent from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in Alberta rose to $395,694, an increase of 1.6 per cent from December 2015.

Only the Calgary Real Estate Board saw an increase in monthly residential average prices from year-ago levels, while the remaining nine Boards/Associations saw decreases of varying degrees (see chart below for detailed information).

The value of all home sales in the province totalled $1.03 billion in December, rising 4.8 per cent from last year. New listings numbered 3,568 units for the month, a decrease of 21.7 per cent from a year earlier, while active residential listings numbered 20,244 units, up 0.9 per cent from one year ago. There were 7.8 months of inventory at the end of the month, little changed from 7.9 months in December 2015.

II. Alberta Sales Outlook for 2017

Read more of the Alberta sales outlook for 2017 in the full report.


In Alberta, movements in residential sales over the past 20 years have been driven primarily by changes in house prices and in mortgage payments (income channel). As shown in Table 1, over the 1997-2016 period, house prices have risen two times faster than residential sales in Alberta. The average price growth for that period was 6.55 per cent compared with average sales growth of three per cent (averages of monthly values). Looking at the simultaneous growth in these two, we can estimate the change in sales with regard to changes in house prices. This is done by dividing the year-over-year change in sales by the year-over-year change in prices. The result is shown in column 6 of Table 1 and represents the price-elasticity of demand.

In Alberta, on average this price-elasticity has been positive and hovered around 6.8 over the past 20 years. What that means is, for every one per cent increase in house prices, sales increased by roughly seven per cent. This might look counter-intuitive because classical demand analysis expects a negative relation between a product price and demand for the product. But, as an investment good, higher home prices mean higher returns on housing investment. Rising house prices may prompt more home sales thus leading to a positive co-movement between sales and prices. Indeed, houses are not only consumption goods, but also assets. Homebuyers buy houses both as consumers and investors. Case and Shiller (1998) for instance, based on a survey, reports that 44 to 64 per cent of homebuyers considered the purchase of a house as an investment.  In Chart 1, the correlation between sales growth (green line) and price growth (red line) is almost perfect: the two mirror each other, displaying a positive co-movement.

Outlook for 2017

We expect residential sales in Alberta to decline by roughly 2.38 per cent in 2017: to 50,927 transactions in 2017 from 52,169 transactions in 2016. This is based on two factors: the price depreciation expected for 2017, and the price-elasticity of sales over the last 20 years. Currently, we expect to see a 0.35 per cent price decline in 2017 (read more about this in the full report). Given the strong response of sales following changes in prices, we added to the picture the weight of a price-elasticity of 6.8 (1997-2016 average).  If we were to consider most recent price-elasticities of sales, like those seen over the last five years (value for the 2012-2016 period in table 1), we could easily be looking at a 6.8 per cent reduction in residential sales in 2017 (table 1). What that means is that only 48,621 existing homes would change hands in Alberta in 2017, compared with 52,169 in 2016.

III. Economic Drivers of Alberta House Prices
IV. The Price-Rent Ratio, Over-Under Valuation and Price Outlook for 2017

Read more in the full report

V. Board/Association Statistics

VI. Alberta Charts

Residential Sales – Current levels are comparable to the years 2010-2012, but remain down from the historical highs in 2013 and 2014.

Residential Average Price – The current residential price for Alberta remains in line with those since 2013, while increasing slightly in December 2016 from one year ago.

Month-over-Month Average Price – Month-to-month average prices have remained fairly consistent in 2016, with the exception of January, typically the lowest volume month with the lowest sale price.

Residential Dollar Volume – Similar to sales numbers, the total dollar volume of sales in Alberta is comparable to the 2010-2012 timeframe, well below the historical highs in 2013 and 2014.

Months of Inventory – Months of inventory were relatively unchanged in December when compared to the same month one year ago. The annual trend follows historical value, with months of inventory rising in the traditionally slower fall and winter months, before decreasing again in the busier spring and summer timeframe.

Note: The data in the charts is national data and may not perfectly reflect the data reported by a Board/Association. The data includes all activity recorded for a board’s area, e.g. Calgary includes all sales recorded by CREB®, not just the Calgary metropolitan area. For more specific information, please contact your local board/association. Click here for a guideline of Board/Association boundaries

The Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) compiles provincial MLS® sales data for dissemination to REALTORS® and other interested groups. The data that is provided represents statistics provided to AREA by way of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). For more detailed statistical information for Boards/Associations or for individual areas, contact your local real estate Board/Association or your local REALTOR®.

The Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) represents more than 10,000 REALTORS® and 10 real estate Boards/Associations province-wide. AREA’s vision is to provide world-class leadership that positively shapes the Alberta real estate profession, enhances member professionalism, and reinforces the critical value REALTORS® deliver to both buyers and sellers.

For more information, please contact AREA Communications at communications@areahub.ca or by phone at 1.800.661.0231.

Alberta Real Estate Association
Suite 300, 4954 Richard Road SW
Calgary, AB T3E 6L1

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Will the Foreign Investor Tax Help You Buy Property?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

If you’ve been watching the headlines, you’ll know that there is a lot of frustration with regards to two large Real Estate Markets in Canada.  One is Vancouver and the other is Toronto.  Recently the BC Government introduced a 15% Foreign Investor tax on property purchasers in B.C.  Christy Clark can be heard saying ‘that is the impact we wanted to have.’  To cool their Red Hot real estate market and that’s just what they did. According to data released by the B.C. government, billions of dollars in Metro Vancouver real estate deals dried up and almost overnight.

In fact, on the last day before the changes came into effect, 55% of all purchases were done so by foreign investors.  Probably some good, but most likely moreso just more buyers to add frustration into an already highly overinflated market area, where the regular Canadian cannot afford to buy a home. Instead, these homes sit vacant and derelict, causing rental and property prices to rise. It’s great what B.C. did, but did you know that China took action against B.C. and their politics first?  That’s right, China said they were going to come to Canada and sue to get their money back.  It is unprecedented and has been put forth to show an example to their own citizens.

The Chinese plaintiffs are asking B.C. judges to enforce monetary judgments awarded in Chinese courts. These Chinese rulings typically involve people found in China to have defrauded Chinese banks or business partners and then fled to Canada with the money and invested in real estate here. Billions of dollars of bank faud proceeds are alleged to be invested in BC, while Lawyers in Vancouver say they are seeing a substantial increase in B.C. court cases filed by Chinese companies seeking to seize real estate assets from Chinese immigrants in B.C.

Perhaps B.C. didn’t want all the attention they were getting, as they decided to help China and Canadians out by adding another tax to your total when buying in B.C.  The Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board revealed the number of homes being sold had dropped significantly and prices had stalled since it came into effect.  See below:

In the end, China coming in to sue for recovery of money will show some foreign investors that if they would like to own property in Canada, they should do it with their own money.  A wee ocean isn’t that much to cross to get back a few million.  The changes to mortgage loan values, as well as the vacancy tax starting in January for Vancouver, all help Canadians such as you and I buy and keep our properties.  Canadians who had to work for their millions and mansions. Right on China, Right on B.C.

Now that’s the Cats’ Meow in Real Estate.

Now that the elections over, let’s talk about that crazy mortgage change!

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Hi Folks,

This isn’t the greatest news you’ve heard but it’s worth taking a look at.  Recently the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, announced four major changes to Canadas’ housing rules.  These changes mainly address concerns on foreign buyers and the high debt of middle class families over housing affordability.  In general, these new mortgage changes are going to decrease the buying power of Canadians by about 20% on every price range. Check out the chart below to really see the differences we are talking about here.

What this means, is that before you go to sell your house, or buy one for the first time, please understand that your champagne wishes may have to recede to your beer budget.  For example at the average annual income of $80,000, without debts and with 5% down payment – your buying power has decreased by almost $100,000.  $91,690 to be exact.  That’s a huge difference and it is directly within the average price range of Edmontonians and their families – sure to affect housing prices in the future.

Worse, is the average person needed about $220,000 to get their family in a townhouse condo (2 storey style) in our market.  This price range has suffered about a $50,000 drop in loan amounts which means buying an entry level townhouse condo is going to be even more hard.

There is a very fine line when you are deciding to buy a property for the first time.  Often a buyer just doesn’t have the down payment to complete the purchase.  Rising house prices make down payments more difficult to obtain.  Mortgage changes make loan applications more difficult to be approved.  Mortgage insurance groups reduce the availability of loans by capping qualification ranges.  Everything is always changing and a person is always subject to those changes.  Most of the time however, it gets more and more difficult to get that approved loan.  So buy when you can, get into home ownership while you are approved and look forward to the gains you can make over the long period.  Real Estate is not instant, nor is it easy to off-load in an emergency.

Shadow banking is most likely set to increase with the changes to regular lending.  Borrowers unable to secure tradition financing sources, will look to alternate sources, many of which are unregulated and outside of federal banking rules.  Uninsured loans at interest rates typically much higher than those provided by banks.

Change #1 – Effective October 17, first time home-buyers with mortgages inured by the CMHC will now undergo a more severe stress test to ensure buyers can still pay for their loan even if the interest rates go up.  This means consumers have less purchasing power.

Change #2 – Starting November 30, new restrictions will be imposed by the government on providing insurance for low-ratio mortgages.  The new criteria will include amortization period of 25 years or less, purchase price of less than $1 Million, the buyers credit score is 600 and the property should be owner-occupied.  This measure is targeted for Vancouver and Toronto markets.

Change #3 – New reporting rules for the primary residence capital gains exemption. The sale of the primary residence must be reported to Canada Revenue Agency.  This measure is to prevent foreign buyers from flipping houses and falsely claiming the tax exemption.

Change #4- The government is launching a public consultation paper on proposals for lenders, such as banks, to take additional risks in the event the insured mortgages go into default, which could mean higher mortgage rates for buyers.

All in all, before your renewal, before moving or before buying it would be advantageous to talk to a trusted mortgage professional about these recent changes and how you will be affected in the future.   If you need to speak with a trusted professional about how you are affected, please do not hesitate to contact me, I would be pleased to let you know who I am recommending these days.

Talk to a professional, contact me today.

Alberta Real Estate Market Reports – September 2016

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Alberta Real Estate Market Reports – September 2016

Alberta home sales edge down year-over-year in August

The Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) compiles provincial MLS® sales data for dissemination to REALTORS® and other interested groups. The data that is provided represents statistics provided to AREA by way of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). For more detailed statistical information for Boards/Associations or for individual areas, contact your local real estate Board/Association or your local REALTOR®.

The Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) reports that a total of 4,927 residential unit sales were recorded through the MLS® Systems of real estate Boards/Associations in Alberta in August, down 4 per cent from the same month last year. This was the smallest year-over-year decline since December 2014.

The average MLS® residential price edged up 0.5 per cent from August 2015 to $390,615.

Three of Alberta’s real estate Boards/Associations saw an increase in monthly residential average prices from year-ago levels, while the Edmonton region average price was unchanged:

Board Year-Over-Year Change Year-to-Date Change
Alberta West +16.8 per cent -0.9 per cent
Lloydminster Region (AB Only) +2.5 per cent -4.1 per cent
Calgary Region +1.4 per cent +1.2 per cent
Edmonton Region 0.0 per cent -0.2 per cent

The remaining six Boards/Associations saw the monthly residential average price decrease to varying degrees from August 2015:

Board Year-over-Year Change Year-to-Date Change
Lethbridge Region -2.1 per cent +0.3 per cent
Grande Prairie Region -4.8 per cent -6.0 per cent
Central Alberta -6.4 per cent -4.0 per cent
Fort McMurray Region -7.0 per cent -13.3 per cent
Medicine Hat Region -7.1 per cent -5.4 per cent
South Central Alberta -11.7 per cent -15.4 per cent

Note: The data above is national data and may not perfectly reflect the data reported by a Board/Association. The numbers represented are for the full Board/Association region, rather than city/town proper areas that may be reflected in a board’s name. Click here for a general guideline of Board/Association boundaries.

The value of all home sales in the province totalled $1.92 billion for the month, falling 3.5 per cent from August 2015.

There were 5.9 months of inventory at the end of August 2016, up from 5.2 months at the same time one year ago.

New listings on the MLS® Systems of real estate boards in Alberta numbered 9,433 units in August, an increase of 0.9 per cent from a year earlier, while active residential listings numbered 28,959 units at the end of August, up 9.2 per cent from one year earlier.


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