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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Top 10 reasons Realtors are worth their weight in gold

The following is an article from the Edmonton Real Estate Board that I have shortened significantly to make for an easier read... the original article was by Sheryl Campbell.

Buying and selling real estate is not a simple thing. It is, in fact, a significant business transaction
that requires a team of talented and skilled people to ensure everything is completed properly and in the right process...lawyers, financial advisors, mortgage specialists, home inspectors, property appraisers, interior decorators, movers and real estate agents all play a significant role within their areas of expertise. Realtors are the ones that assist clients though the entire real estate process with care, professionalism and competency.

It is estimated there are more than 146 large and small tasks that must be managed for a successful real estate transaction to be closed. We can make the complex process of selling or purchasing real estate both simple and painless.

Here are the top ten reasons why enlisting a real estate professional is one of the best investments you can make in the process of buying or selling real estate.

10. We provide our clients with expert assessments on the value of any property you are seeking to sell or to purchase. We will analyze real estate values in comparable properties, and will help you determine a price reflecting the current real estate market.

9. We provide professional advice on how to prepare your property so that it shows at its absolute best and can provide a critical eye to flaws that may be more significant than clients realize.

8. We use the Multiple Listing Service® to put our client's property front and centre in the real estate market, or to find a property that fits with what our client is seeking. In fact, you can search all Edmonton and area MLS listings right from our site without signing up or registering.
Only REALTORS, those real estate agents who are members of the Edmonton Real Estate Board and the Canadian Real Estate Association, can list properties on the MLS® system.

7. We take care of all the nitty-gritty details involved in selling or purchasing a home.

6. We take care of advertising with a detailed marketing plan.

5. We take care of yard signage. If your home is for sale but nobody knows it, how can it possibly be sold?

4. We assist clients in understanding all offers to purchase. We can provide explanations and expertise regarding offers made for a property. We will advise you on any conditions of sale that may be problematic, and will take steps to negotiate any unacceptable elements.

3. We know how to negotiate an acceptable sale price. Because home ownership is a substantial investment that can have emotional implications, both buyers and sellers usually have too much at stake to be good negotiators. We remain professionally detached and are able to negotiate satisfactory sales prices in real estate transactions.

2. We know the pulse of the current market. We know the Edmonton Region marketplace from day-to-day exposure and how its pulse is beating. We are professionals with intricate, expert knowledge.

1. We put your mind at ease and let you relax through the real estate transaction. In today's busy, busy world and intense real estate market, isn’t it worth it to have a professional guide you through a complex business transaction with ease and security? We are professionals in the process of selling and purchasing real estate, and will provide a value that is worth its weight in gold.

More Evidence Alberta's Real Estate Market is Rocking

CREA released another press release today, the stats below are pulled from that....(please note, I've removed a lot of stuff that has to do with other parts of the country).

National MLS® home sales climb in November
Higher activity in Alberta and Ontario

National existing home sales via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) rose to their fourth highest seasonally adjusted monthly level on record in November 2005, according to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association.

Activity also remains on track to set a new annual record in 2005. Transactions for the first 11 months of 2005 were just half a percentage point lower than total MLS® home sales recorded in 2004.

A seasonally adjusted total of 41,724 homes traded hands in November, representing a gain of 1.6 per cent compared to the previous month. Higher activity in Alberta and Ontario more than offset fewer sales in British Columbia and Quebec. Year-to-date, transactions were running 4.9 per cent ahead of levels recorded during the first 11 months of last year.

Sales activity reached its highest monthly level on record in Alberta. Seasonally adjusted dollar volume totaled $10.6 billion in November – the third highest monthly level on record. Dollar volume also set a new monthly record in Alberta.

The national MLS® residential average price hit $256,126 in November, shattering all previous monthly records. Average price rose 11.0 per cent compared to the same month in 2004.

November was also the sixth consecutive month in which year-over-year price growth exceeded 10 per cent. MLS® residential average price reached its highest monthly level on record in Alberta.

“Continuing growth in full-time employment and rebounding consumer confidence in November mean that economic fundamentals will continue to support strong housing activity in the coming months,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump.

“The small increase in mortgage rates in November may have prompted many prospective homebuyers to jump into market in order to take advantage of pre-approved mortgage rates.
With the Bank rate hike in December and more increases expected next year, resale housing activity is expected to gradually drift lower in 2006 as homes prices continue to rise,” Klump added.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighborhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

This report is published by the Communications Department of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Further information can be found at
For more information:
Gregory Klump, Chief Economist
(613) 237-7111

Search all Edmonton and Area MLS listings at

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Remodel with an Eye toward Resale

The following article discusses a report from NAR - the National Association of Realtors - which is an American association. The stats presented are all from the US as well, but they still apply to our market.

RISMEDIA, Dec. 22 — Kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects are returning more of a homeowner’s investment than ever before, according to the 2005 Cost vs. Value Report published by the National Association of Realtors®.

Many homeowners who complete midrange bathroom remodels can expect to make money; the cost on a national average for this project is $10,499, and the return is $10,727, or 102.2 percent, compared with 87.5 percent in 2002. On average, major midrange kitchen remodels cost $43,862 and return $39,920, or 91 percent of the costs to remodel, up from 66 percent in 2002.

Nationally, homeowners who add an attic bedroom spend an average of $39,188, and on resale, they recoup 93.5 percent of the cost. Master suites, however, do not fare as well; an upscale addition, which costs $137,891 on average, returns only $110,512 on resale, or approximately 80.1 percent of the remodeling expense.

The Cost vs. Value Report includes information provided by NAR members about the resale value of common remodeling projects in 58 U.S. housing markets. The report includes cost data, resale value and percentage recouped at sale for 18 projects, including a first this year: a home office remodel. Given that America’s homeowners spent more than $139 billion on home improvements and repairs over the past year, according to data from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the report contains valuable information for anyone who is considering embarking upon a remodeling project.

“The desirability of certain home features varies by neighborhood and is heavily influenced by buyers’ expectations in a given area,” said Stevens. “For example, adding a bathroom to a one-bathroom house in a neighborhood where most homes already have two may not return as much as remodeling an outdated bathroom in that same community.” In the final analysis, however, homeowners who are thinking about a remodeling project should consider their own needs and desires as well as those of the home’s future inhabitants.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Agency in Alberta

If you are buying or selling real estate in Alberta this impacts you. The information below is taken from the website of the Real Estate Council of Alberta which is worth investigating by anyone working with a real estate professional in Alberta. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us or the Real Estate Council of Alberta

Agency: The Relationship Between Agent and Client

What Is Agency?
Agency is a legal concept and the root of all agent/client relationships. The law of agency describes agency as a relationship where one party (the agent) accepts responsibility for representing another party (the principal or client) in dealing with a third party.

Note: This article deals with the most common agency relationship. Information on dual agency is contained in a separate article.

In a real estate or mortgage transaction, agency applies to the relationship that exists between a brokerage and its client. While the person the client typically deals with is commonly referred to as an agent, the legal relationship is actually between the client and the brokerage. For example, the parties to a brokerage agreement to sell a property will be the brokerage and the owner. An agent employed by the brokerage will usually be authorized by the brokerage to enter into such contracts on its behalf.

How Are Agency Relationships Formed?
Agency relationships can be formed in two ways:

1. Express agencyIn express agency, the parties (brokerage and client) clearly express, in writing or orally, their intention to enter into an agency relationship and the agreed terms of that relationship.

Consumers can choose to enter into a written agreement with a brokerage (written express agency) or a verbal agreement (oral express agency).

Written express agency occurs when a consumer and brokerage enter into a written brokerage agreement contract. The contract authorizes the brokerage to represent the client in the necessary capacity and indicates the details of the relationship. In most situations a written agreement is preferred because it clearly establishes the formation of an agency relationship and offers better protection for both the consumer and the brokerage and its agents.

Express agency can also be created orally. For example, a buyer and brokerage may discuss their agency relationship and agree orally that the brokerage may seek out a suitable property and represent the buyer/client in a purchase.

This article is continued on the RECA website here.

Edmonton's Rental Market

On Thursday, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released its Rental Market Survey for year up to October, and for the month of October.

The entire Metro Edmonton region’s apartment vacancy rate has fallen from 5.3 per cent in October 2004 to 4.5 per cent in October 2005. In the same time frame apartment rents have increased on average by 1.4 per cent this year or by approximately nine dollars per months. This follows a 1.2 per cent average increase for the period of October 2003 and October 2004.

The largest rent hike is for bachelor suites. Renters interested in those properties can expect to now pay on average approximately $457 per month, up from $441 last year.

Part of the reason for the increases across the entire Metro Edmonton region and the Province is related to the costs of construction."The price has gone up so much for everything and there’s such a shortage of labour that when they look at building and the kinds of rents that they’ll need to get a decent rate of return they start to get a little uneasy. If they are going to build an apartment building then they are more likely to build it as a condo so that they can get in, get their money, get out and move on. In a lot of communities condominiums are a lot more prevalent. Nationwide there are very few rental starts. For example in Calgary there has been very few rental starts. Thousands of apartments are being built, but the lion’s share of them are condominiums."

Mortgage fraud in Alberta

Posted in the Bloomberg news service just hours ago. Not every thing is as it seems. There are many ways in which people fall victim to mortgage fraud. "What", you say, "people fall victim to this". The answer to that is yes. Many people who buy and sell their homes on their own in Edmonton, often fall prey to professional fraud artists. These innocent victims end up paying for it in many ways. The following is an extreme example but shows the level to which mortgage fraud can be taken.

Mortgage Fraud Bust
Five arrested, warrant issued for sixth in record-setting, $29-million case

Five of six men in an alleged gang of fraudsters were arrested and charged yesterday in what is likely the largest-ever mortgage fraud in Alberta.

A total of 142 charges was laid against the men, including one under federal anti-gang laws alleging the fraud was done for the benefit of a criminal organization. The extent of the alleged fraud is just under $30 million.

"I believe it is the largest alleged mortgage fraud in Alberta," said RCMP Insp. Joe Loran, head of the Integrated Response to Organized Crime in Alberta.

The five men charged are Gohar Ahmed Pervez, 43, Scott Park, 40, Harkamaljit Kahlon, 29, Terry Lynn Ellis, 59, and Rodrigo Caroca, 32. Park is an Edmonton criminal defence lawyer.
Police are still looking for Pedro Brito, 32, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

"It involves fraud committed in regards to mortgage applications involving a number of financial institutions," said Loran

He said the charges relate to 118 properties in Edmonton and six in Camrose, and the value of the alleged fraud is $29,665,000.

The IROC team has been involved in the mortgage fraud investigation since January 2003 and has looked into 256 properties, said Loran.

The six men face a second charge under anti-gang legislation that alleges they conspired together with a group of individuals to commit fraud.

There are 10 people named as co-conspirators who have not been charged.
The balance of the charges are for fraud over $5,000.

Police allege Pervez is the kingpin of the crime group.

He has been in the news before for buying rundown city homes and turning them over at substantial increases in value, even though some are subsequently again condemned, and many buyers or banks are left holding properties allegedly worth far less than their mortgages.

In research into 20 homes bought and sold by Pervez-linked companies in the past three years, the Sun has found nine of the 20 now subject to foreclosure suits and six of the 20 now condemned by Capital Health.

"We are alleging they are a criminal organization and they have committed a fraud for the benefit of the criminal organization," said IROC Staff Sgt. Bob Andrews.

The five men arrested were expected to have bail hearings yesterday and are slated to make their first appearances in court either today or in the next couple of days.

A typical mortgage fraud scheme involves giving a cheap property a far higher mortgage value through trickery or fraud. Ultimately, the unsupported mortgage is assumed by an unsuspecting buyer.

The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) says many Albertans have been lured by promises of big returns and were made victims of mortgage fraud, sometimes experiencing huge financial losses and ruined credit ratings.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Edmonton Property Taxes in 2006

Final property tax increase 4 per cent
CBC News

The average homeowner will pay about $44 more on their tax bill next year, after council approved a four-per-cent increase Thursday.

The final numbers cut about $20 a year from the initial budget proposal, and dropped the tax rate by more than two per cent.

Councillors credited Mayor Stephen Mandel, who suggested many of the changes that brought the increase down, with the final tally.

"Our mayor, who was very busy last year learning how to be a mayor, this year actually took a wonderful leadership role, got into the budget with both feet," Coun. Bryan Anderson said.

The move to lower the tax increase was aided by increased investment returns this year and plans to use money from the province to finance some capital purchases.

"My expression would be how wonderful it is to be awash in cash, because I'll tell you, when you have the resources, it makes it much easier to budget," Coun. Ron Hayter, who has been through 28 budget processes, said.

The 2006 budget also includes money for new roads, recreation facilities and social programs.
Taxpayers will also pay about $7 a year more for service fees.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Edmonton's Real Estate Market Pulse

In the last couple of months the interest rates have gone up at least half percent. Many properties that people should have put offers but for whatever reason did not have sold. There have been fewer new listings in most price ranges in the Edmonton area. Some areas have seen drastic reductions in inventory.

The amount of overall inventory has declined significantly. If the rates continue to rise and the inventory of listings in Edmonton continues to fall we will see, early in the new year a sellers market with prices rising significantly. Most builders are raising their prices 10 - 15%. This will mean a competive market for buyers with many of them in competion for the same property and driving multiple offers. This may not come to pass but unless we see a significant drop in demand and an increase in inventory we will get there. We have been there before and our ready and able to help our clients strategize to get the best possible property for the best possible price, terms and financing. Contact us today and see what a difference our professioanl team can make for you. Over 106 years of combined experience.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

All Alberta homes

All Alberta listings can now be found and searched via our award winning website.

No registration is required!

Edmonton Economic News

The following is from the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. The numbers tell the story...

With the fifth largest metro economy and the highest rate of GDP growth in the past decade, the Edmonton region will continue to benefit from $84.5 billion in capital investment in northern Alberta in the coming years, including $14.5 billion on our own doorstep.

Greater Edmonton’s economy grew by 6.0% in 2004, the second highest rate for a major Canadian city — and its growth is expected to rank it in the top three for the foreseeable future.

Greater Edmonton is the best place in Canada to grow your business.

Greater Edmonton has benefited greatly from Alberta’s enviable fiscal position, resource investment and rising oil and gas prices. Here are some key indicators of Greater Edmonton’s current economic strength:

  • Greater Edmonton is the fifth largest metro economy in Canada and had a cumulative GDP growth of 49% over the past ten years, highest in Canada
  • Greater Edmonton was second among large Canadian cities in 2004 with GDP growth of 6%. GDP growth in
    2005 is forecast to be 2%, and average 3.2% from 2006 - 2009.
  • Total economic activity in the region (real GDP) is forecast to be $41.5 billion in 2005 and $43.1 billion in 2006.
  • Greater Edmonton became the sixth metropolitan region in Canada to pass one million in population.
  • Approximately $108.6 billion worth of projects are announced, planned or under construction in Alberta.
  • Approximately $84.5 billion will be in northern Alberta and $14.5 billion in the Edmonton region.
  • Effects of this investment are expected to include: continued migration to Greater Edmonton, higher employment and moderately higher incomes, increased disposable income and higher consumer spending.

For more statistics and analysis about economic activity in the region, check out the 2006 Greater Edmonton Economic Outlook available at

Selling Your Home During the Holidays

The following suggestions came from Re/Max of Southeastern Michigan, but we think they apply in any market:

For those trying to selling their home during the holiday months, we recommend the following six easy tips to enhance your home's potential:

- Embrace the holiday season — Create a warm and inviting entrance with a simple, seasonal wreath on your front door. Also, adding a few holiday decorations inside can make a house feel more like a home to your visitors during this festive time of year.

- Think curb appeal — The blooming trees and flowers of summer may be gone, but your home still needs to have curb appeal to bring potential buyers inside. Keep your yard raked, or snow shoveled, to keep up a tidy appearance. Make sure exterior lights work and are on as needed to help show off your home from the street.

- Monitor the fireplace — Fireplaces are a sought after feature for many home buyers. Now that the cooler weather is back, you may be using your fireplace. Keep unwelcome odors away by cleaning up ashes after use.

- Lighten up — With days becoming shorter and darkness arriving earlier, remember to turn on lights and open curtains and blinds to open up your home, even for showings during the day.

- Add audio — Soft music is always a good backdrop when showing your home. It is acceptable to use holiday music, but do be careful to keep the volume soft and not too distracting. Light instrumental often is a good choice.

- Touch the senses — During this time of year, nothing says home like the smell of pumpkin or apple pie. You can either warm cider on the stove, burn a lightly fragrant candle or even bake a frozen pie prior to your showings to get this lovely aroma wafting through the air.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Canada's housing market still hot...for now

More evidence Edmonton and Alberta are booming... This article by Tara Perkins was published today by CP. (I've taken out some of the stuff that isn't relevant).

Canada's housing market is still thriving on a diet of low interest rates, but economists warn it will become sluggish as rate hikes take effect.

Construction of new homes increased in November, surpassing expectations and helping to erase October's drop, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Thursday.

And the price of new homes continued to rise in October, according to figures released by Statistics Canada.

"The Canadian housing market continues to benefit from still-low interest rates and a very solid jobs outlook," said Sherry Cooper, chief economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns.

"However, as rates head higher, a gradual slowdown in housing-related activity is anticipated."
The price of new homes rose 0.7 per cent in October, bringing the 12-month price increase to 5.4 per cent, Statistics Canada said Thursday.

That was driven largely by higher costs for fuel, labour and building materials — especially lumber. Rising land values contributed to price hikes in only seven of the 21 metropolitan areas surveyed.

Calgary led the pack for the second month in a row, posting a price increase of 3.4 per cent. Edmonton was the runner-up, at 1.1 per cent. Both cities showed land price increases.

Randy Sterns, the Statistics Canada analyst who wrote Thursday's report, said "it's somewhat surprising that the pricing increases have continued to be as strong as they are."

"There has been somewhat of a slowdown in terms of building permits," he said. "But so far we haven't really seen a slowdown in the pricing."

CMHC said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts rose 7.5 per cent in November to 222,100 units, up from 206,800 in October.

That "full-throttle" reversal followed a string of positive economic indicators, including the creation of 50,000 full-time jobs in November, said TD Economics economist Sebastien Lavoie.
Lavoie noted that "the bulk of the increase came in Ontario, where starts bounced back by a whopping 36 per cent from last month."

November urban housing starts in the Prairies were up 3.1 per cent to 39,600 units, and in Quebec urban starts were up 1.8 per cent to 40,500 units, compared with October. Activity was down on the east and west coasts.

Lavoie said condo starts are so high that, "interestingly, 2005 is likely to be the first year on record where fewer urban single homes than multiples have been started, reflecting a greater scarcity of land in Canada's largest cities and the fact that condos are relatively affordable."

Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre, said "strong employment and income gains, coupled with low mortgage rates continue to bolster consumer confidence and demand for homes."

But "while demand for new homes remains strong, rising mortgage carrying costs will cause housing starts to fall short of the peak set in 2004."

Grow-op Owners Face Costly Cleanup

Landlords beware.... if you're not paying attention to what is going on at your property, you could be in for some big clean up expenses. This article from today's SUN talks about the problems with trying to sell a former grow-op. Buyers, this is yet another reason to have a qualified home inspector do a thorough inspection of any home you are consindering purchasing.


Four Edmonton homes condemned following a series of marijuana grow-op busts across the city yesterday likely won't face a wrecking ball.

But the homeowners will have to ensure the mould-infested residences are sufficiently cleaned and restored to Capital Health's liking before they can ever be sold again.

"It's up to the owner ... (but) it's usually cheaper to fix it up than tear it down and start all over again," said Glenn Jenkins, a Capital Health environmental health officer.

Capital Health has affixed condemnation notices to the land titles of four of the six homes where the joint EPS-RCMP Green Team harvested 2,373 plants worth $2.4 million.

"That notice will stay on until we're satisfied," Jenkins said, adding Capital Health keeps a permanent record of condemned homes.

Earning a clean bill of health requires removing all mould and water damage, making foundation repairs, and repairing the altered electrical, plumbing and heating systems, Jenkins said, adding walls have to be removed and joists need to be sanded down in some cases.

Cleanup can cost a homeowner anywhere from $350 to more than $20,000, he said.

This year, Capital Health has listed 15 homes as "unfit for human habitation" due to grow-op damage, Jenkins said.

None has been torn down - a decision that's made by the city, he added.

By law, real estate agents are obligated to disclose all material defects of a home, said Madeline Sarafinchan, incoming president of the Edmonton Real Estate Board.

But not all grow-ops are busted by police.

"You can't disclose what you don't know," Sarafinchan added. "A home inspection is the best bet."

Jenkins said homebuyers can look for some telltale signs of grow-op damage, including a patch job on the foundation wall near the fuse box and power meter, discolouration and staining on walls and ceilings, and a residual skunky odour.

Since April, police have uncovered 17,000 pot plants worth $17 million, said Det. Darren Derko.

2005 a 'remarkable year' for Edmonton's real estate market

The following are exerpts from an article today in the Edmonton Sun By NEIL WAUGH.

Edmonton Real Estate Board president Jim Kulak calls it a "remarkable year." To Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation senior Edmonton analyst Richard Goatcher, it's "torrid."

Anyway you slice it, it's been one heck of an 11 months for housing in Edmonton. And there's still a month to go before the old guy with the scythe shows up, and Jim and Rick finally get to draw the bottom line.

Yesterday, Goatcher released his November numbers.
There were a few negative notes. Total starts dropped off some - down 17.5% from the same month a year ago - mainly because the apartment market has cooled off, and row housing also recorded a 39% decline over November 2004.

But even with that doom and gloom, Goatcher happily reported that total starts will beat the 12,000 threshold for "three of the past four years."

It's amazing what $80 billion in proposed oilsands and other construction will do to an economy.

It's the single-detached homes market where the real action lies. Starts were up 20.3% to 653 units from same time a year ago. By the end of November single-family builders have dug 6,934 basements in the Edmonton metro area, up a solid 15.4% over a year ago.

"Production to date represents the highest annual total ever," the analyst whooped. "And we still have one month remaining in 2005."

In November, the showhome warriors set a monthly total sales record (1,647 units up 18.8% - $345 million up 6.23%). A record average residential selling price of $226,110 - up 10.6% - was also set.

But clearly the most impressive record was the EREB's total sales to date. "We cruised past $4 billion on November 28," beamed Kulak.

This is even more remarkable when Jim points out that the board was struggling to beat $3 billion only a year ago.

Five years ago the total Multiple Listing Service turnover was just $2 billion. Could it hit $5 billion before the year ends? Probably not. But that's surely something to shoot for in 2006.

Kulak says it's the "strength of the local economy" that's driving both sales and prices to new records.

Veteran Edmonton realtors know exactly what happens when a market gets inflated. It can pop like a birthday balloon, the way it did in July, 1982 when Pierre Trudeau's national energy program really hit home.

Already, the bank has detected "froth" activity in the Toronto and Vancouver condo markets.
A bubble technically occurs when greedy speculation takes over from real estate fundamentals. So, in some ways, a bubble can be a good thing. Unfortunately, innocent bystanders can also get hurt.

"The risk of a housing bubble in Edmonton continues to be extremely low," the report concluded, citing reasons like solid income growth, a third quarter dip in interest rates and an affordability rate listed as "unthreatening."

But that might have already changed after Bank of Canada governor Dave Dodge consulted his tea leaves on Tuesday. Dodge jacked up the central bank rate by a quarter of a point.

The big banks took the hint and put up short term mortgage rates. Although the five-year-and-up ones luckily stayed put.

To keep inflation on target "some further reduction in monetary stimulus will be required to maintain a balance," Dodge sniffed. Which is a central banker's way of saying, he ain't done yet.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Happy 42nd Anniversary - Dad

Yesterday marks 42 years of working in the real estate industry in Edmonton for Ken Johnston. Happy Anniversary Mr J. Thanks for being such a great mentor, friend and father. There is so much for us to be proud of and thanks for all your sacrifices. I have learned first hand how difficult it must have been to coach all 3 of us boys in hockey, be the 7th member of the million dollar club and go on all those family vacations. The amazing thing is you're still going strong. I'm proud to have been your partner these past 17 years.

Website Award: 5 out 5

I believe the proof is in the pudding. If it tastes great then its great. From a marketing perspective I'm very proud of what Sara has done to our pudding. As our director of marketing and technology, she has designed one of the best, most user-friendly websites anywhere. I mean it. Just compare for yourself. Simple to use. Professional looking and very functional for clients and customers.

Recently Results net awarded us 5 out 5 stars for the very things I just mentioned. When I compared our site to other recipients I was absolutely beaming with pride.

We believe in a quality presentation and quality service. The face we put out onto the web reflects our clients to. Just take a look at some of the websites out there even the other award winners and I think you'll agree with the people at results net.

More about results net:

The Results-net Web Site Awards are awarded to those real estate related web sites that demonstrate excellence in design, usability and effectiveness, and show a commitment to using the Internet as a means of delivering information and providing service.
There are three awards that are given.

The Five Star Award is representative of the Top 1% of Web Sites
The Four Star Award is representative of the Top 5% of Web Sites
The Three Star Award is representative of the Top 10% of Web Sites

Visitors to award winning sites can be assured that they are experiencing the best sites the Internet has to offer.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Edmonton real estate - News Release

Alrighty then. This is hot off the press. This gives you a sense of the stable growth this market is undergoing.

Edmonton Real Estate Board


December 2, 2005

Strong Sales in November send MLS over $4 Billion

Edmonton , December 2, 2005: Record setting November sales sent year to date Multiple Listing Service total sales over the $4 billion mark for the first time in Edmonton Real Estate Board history. Total property sales in November were 1,647 – up 261 over the same month sales in 2004. Total year to date sales have already surpassed last year’s record number: 20,252 as compared to 20,110 total sales at December 31, 2004.

“This has been a remarkable year,” said Jim Kulak, EREB President. “Five years ago total MLS sales topped out at just over $2 billion. We cruised past $4 billion on November 28 – just eleven days later than the day we hit $3 billion last year.” He explained that the new record was a combination of increased number of sales and increased prices. For example, the average price of all residential property in November 2000 was $127,069 and today it is $198,267 – a 56% increase.

Separating home sales from industrial and commercial sales: there were 1,445 homes (including single family, condos, duplexes) through the MLS in November, 2005 as compared to 1,214 in November 2004. Total Year to date residential sales are up 6% at 17,726 in 2005 (16,726 last year).

Single family homes sold on average for $226,110 in November up marginally (0.1%) from last month but 10.55% higher than a year ago when single family homes sold for $204,535.

Condominium prices inched up 3.7% in November to $146,337. The average price last month was $141,106. Condominium sales are up over last year with 391 sales in November as compared to 308 in 2004.

Duplex and row house average sale prices dropped back to the same level they were at in August. After two months were average prices were over $190,000, the average price in November was $176,615, up 3% from November 2004.

Although listings in November were up (1,653) over the same month last year (1,455) the number of listings for the year has fallen slightly causing the inventory to shrink. “The strength of the local economy is attracting new workers to this area putting some pressure on resale inventory,” said Kulak. “However, the inventory continues to revolve with the new listings coming into the market each day.“ There were 3,334 homes in the MLS inventory as of November 30. The average days on market in November was 39 days – down three from last month.

The average housing price has also been pushed up by the steady increase in demand at the high end of the market. The number of homes sold for greater than $300,000 is up 48% from a year ago. The MLS recorded 1,521 sales to November 30, 2005 compared to just 1,024 in the same period of 2004. There have been 173 homes sold for $500,000 or more compared to 126 in the same period last year.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

National Jobless Rate Lowest in 30 Years

This article is from the Canadian Press, the second half of the article is more relevant to Alberta and Edmonton. Generally, high employment rates are good for the real estate market, and may even counter act small interest rake hikes...

OTTAWA -- If you remember when the pop single Kung Fu Fighting blasted from transistor radios and The Towering Inferno blazed across the big screen, you'll recall the last time Canada's jobless rate hit its November low of 6.4 %.

Not since December 1974 has the national unemployment rate dropped as low as it reached last month, analysts said yesterday.

The addition of about 30,600 new full-time positions in November pushed the rate below October's 6.6%, which was also a record not seen in three decades, Statistics Canada reported.

"This was just a stunningly strong report, especially following 68,700 new jobs added in October," said Marc Levesque, chief Canadian strategist with TD Securities. "It doesn't matter which way you dissect the data, the job numbers were extremely strong."

Christmas shoppers will likely be buoyed by the strong employment figures, which were spread fairly evenly across regions of the country and across most sectors.

In Alberta, November's jobless rate was 4.1% based on a workforce of 1,872,000 against 76,900 unemployed. The jobless rate was up slightly from 4% in October, but way down from 4.6% in November last year, when 85,900 were out of work.

Edmonton's November jobless rate was estimated at 4.3% while Calgary's was 4.4%, the lowest among big Canadian cities.

Pundits suggest the jobless numbers are good news for Prime Minister Paul Martin, who has based the Liberal party's federal election platform on what he calls his government's sound economic management.

About 24,000 new construction jobs in Ontario and British Columbia added to November's employment picture.

Even the manufacturing sector added 6,800 jobs after massive losses over the past two years due to a soaring loonie.

But roughly 17,000 positions were lost in the health and social services fields last month and 15,000 were lost in finance, insurance and real estate.

Overall, some 50,200 full-time jobs were added in November while 19,600 part-time positions were shed, Statistics Canada reported.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

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Edmonton home prices to rise by 8% in 2006

Every year Royal Lepage puts out a study predicting what the future holds for real estate in Canada. To be honest, I don't remember how accurate their predictions have been in the past, but the exerpts from the study below show that western Canada is set to lead the country and Edmonton will have the second largest increase in home prices... certainly worth a look:

– Momentum from record year to sustain growth in 2006 –

TORONTO, December 1, 2005 — After posting record growth in both price appreciation and sales this year, Canada’s housing market is expected to enjoy solid but more moderate growth in 2006 according to the Royal LePage Real Estate Services 2006 Market Survey Forecast released today. National average house prices are forecast to rise by 6 per cent to $271,800 in 2006, while transactions are projected to fall slightly from this year’s anticipated record high of 482,000 unit sales to 467,540 (–3.0%) unit sales.

The strength of the Canadian market is expected to mitigate the expected slowdown in residential housing resale activity in 2006 as strong economic fundamentals sustain healthy growth in the housing market across the country, with particular strength seen in the West. However, higher home prices in major markets, a general public perception of slower market conditions and moderate interest rate increases are forecast to temper market activity as unit sales pull back from the record highs of 2005.

“Those looking for a break from the frenetic pace that has recently characterized the housing market will see some moderation next year, but the effects of an unusually strong fall market are expected to carry through into the first half of 2006, with the upward pressure on prices to continue in most areas of Canada,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer of Royal LePage Real Estate Services.

Added Soper: “While more balanced conditions are expected, as demand slows to meet supply, housing starts ease and the underlying Canadian economy continues to operate at near full capacity, prices should rise in most regions. The effect of higher home prices and low but increasing interest rates, should result in slightly reduced home sales activity overall.”

Higher prices for Canadian oil and gas will be one of the major factors influencing the market in 2006. In 2005, western provinces enjoyed higher rates of in-migration and job growth as momentum in the housing market shifted to the West. Increased demand for labour in the energy sector as well as in mining, construction and transportation translated into higher wage growth in the West. Corresponding higher consumer spending will sustain sizable gains for the housing markets in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan well into next year.

“The Canadian energy industry is enjoying a renaissance, with much higher commodity prices making previously uneconomical oil and gas reserves attractive to produce. The spill-over effect of increased capital spending, rising personal earning and the subsequent increase in population through migration, will allow real estate markets in western Canada to outpace the rest of the country,” said Soper.

Highlights of average house prices for the nine markets examined reveal that in 2006 the three most affordable cities to buy housing will be Regina ($138,000), Winnipeg ($152,000) and Halifax ($202,800), while the three most expensive cities to purchase real estate will be Vancouver ($469,700), Toronto ($364,000) and Calgary ($283,400).

Canadian Housing Trends: 2006 Market Survey Forecast



2006 Forecast

2005 Projected

Reflecting Alberta’s current economic strength, Calgary property values are expected to post the greatest increases next year, rising by an anticipated 9.0 per cent – closely followed by Edmonton at 8.0 per cent.

The most marginal increase will be seen in Montreal, with an expected 2.0 per cent price appreciation in 2006.

2006 Trends at a Glance

Market fundamentals
– Canada’s economy is poised for continued growth in 2006. With unemployment levels at near historic lows, positive job and income growth across the country and solid population growth resulting from higher immigration quotas in 2006, a positive and healthy housing market is expected.
Mortgage rates – Anticipated interest rate increases in the coming year are expected to be modest and the effect on the real estate market should be minor to moderate.
Canadian dollar – Economic growth in the U.S., and a subsequent increase in demand for Canadian exports, has mitigated the negative effect of a higher Canadian dollar on the manufacturing sector.
New home market – Housing starts will ease in the coming year as a result of a more competitive resale market, higher construction costs and moderate increases in mortgage carrying costs.
Momentum in the West – Momentum in the country’s housing market has clearly shifted from Central Canada to the West. Looking ahead to 2006, housing markets in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan will continue to benefit from high energy prices and are expected to enjoy growth well above the national average.
Transportation and traffic congestion – The cost of gas as well as increasing congestion affect buyers in the two areas they value most – time and money. Existing homes close to transportation corridors and public transit will be increasingly sought after and this will be reflected in higher market activity in these areas. Infill new housing construction in inner city and downtown locations will also increase as a result.


Edmonton Economic outlook

While this was released in August this information shows the vitality and stability of the Edmonton housing market. Whether your buying or selling we have the experience and the expertise make your move a successful one. Sheldon Johnston

Greater Edmonton continues to experience robust economic growth driven by high energy prices and resource development in Northern Alberta. Personal disposable income is on the rise, now matching Toronto’s and low interest rates have certainly been a key part of the economic success story Edmonton has experienced in the past eight years.

A record $76.4 billion worth of capital projects over $2 million are planned over the next decade in the Edmonton service area. With this kind of investment Edmonton’s near-to mid-term economic future in highly positive.

While Edmonton’s economic outlook remains upbeat, a key challenge is the tight labour market. In seven of the first 10 months of 2004, the unemployment rate in Edmonton has been under five per cent. With this tight labour market, the region is experiencing skilled and general worker shortages.

These and many other facts and insights can be found in the 2005 Greater Edmonton Economic Outlook. Outlook 2005 is a concise, comprehensive and easy-to-use compilation of the major economic forecasts produced by governments, financial institution, think-tanks and industry associations. The projections and issues posed by the forecasters are coupled with Edmonton Economic Development Corporation’s (EEDC) interpretation of their significance for Greater Edmonton.

Outlook 2005 is grouped into topic sections, including GDP, industry, labour force, inflation, income, investment, exchange rates and population. Read it all or focus in on the information you really need to make your business decisions.

Go here to download the reports.