The Edmonton Real Estate Blog

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Housing Starts Set Record Pace

A new report from CMHC says that Canadian housing starts topped 200,000 for the 32nd straight month in January, while the resale homes market has been on a seven-year winning streak, helped by low interest rates and a strong economy.

Housing starts totaled 225,481 units last year, down from 2004's 17-year high of 233,431 units, but above early forecasts for a 2005 total of about 215,000. Existing home sales set a record last year as increased immigration, younger people buying homes earlier and women opting to purchase property alone drove buying.

Housing starts rose a bigger than expected annualized 247,900 units in January, the sturdiest start to a year since 1987 while building permits hit a record high in December.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp expects house price increases to moderate to 5.5 percent this year and 3.8 percent next year, from 10 percent last year. Edmonton's price increases are expected to be substantially higher than the rest of the country at 8%.

Spacious West Edmonton 2-Bedroom Condo For Rent

Like new, spacious (1500 square feet!), excellent condition, 2-bedroom townhome in very attractive executive complex. Unit equipped with 5 appliances, 2.5 bathrooms, single attached garage - 2 parking spaces with lots of visitor parking. Large deck and balcony. Large, eat-in kitchen, gas fireplace, finished basement can be used as den or office. Master bedroom with huge ensuite and walk in closet with organizers. Second bedroom very spacious as well. Utilities not included. Small pets considered with pet damage deposit. Available April 1, 2006. E-mail for more information.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Home enhancement - Getting your home ready for sale.

You are going to sell your home. Now you have to get the most you can for your home. There have been thousands of articles on this topic and for good reason. Staging your home properly can make the difference for how long it will take to sell your home and how much money you will get in the end. Instead of giving you mere tidbits of information I will give you a book on the subject absolutely free and with no obligation if you live in the Edmonton area. This book has made myself and countless clients thousands of dollars and I hope it helps you to. Just call us or send us an email with your mailing address.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Inflation creeping

There is a threat to the economy and the real estate market. It may not be real yet but inflation is creeping up and that could affect the Edmonton and area real estate market down the road. It will certainly impact affordability with prices and interest rates following its lead as the Bank of Canada tries to reign it in. This article was posted by CBC news.

Higher energy prices drive inflation rate to 2.8%

Canada's annual inflation rate picked up steam to 2.8 per cent in January on higher gasoline and natural gas prices, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

That's up six-tenths of a percentage point from December's 2.2 per cent rate and a slightly higher jump than what was expected.

Statistics Canada said gasoline prices rose an average of 19.2 per cent in the one-year period ended in January. Natural gas prices surged 26 per cent over the same period.

The agency points out that, excluding energy costs, the cost of living would have remained unchanged between December and January.

The core rate of inflation, which doesn't count volatile items like gasoline, natural gas, fuel oil, and fresh fruit and vegetables, edged up from 1.6 per cent to 1.7 per cent – still well within the Bank of Canada's target range of one to three per cent.

On a month-over-month basis, the federal agency said prices increased 0.5 per cent between December and January, the first monthly increase since last September.

"Increases in the prices of gasoline, natural gas and fresh vegetables were offset very slightly by lower prices for travel tours and men's clothing," Statistics Canada said.

Travel tour costs fell because of seasonally slow demand in January. Discounting by retailers, mainly in Ontario, led to the drop in men's clothing prices. Bad weather was responsible for a 12.4 per cent increase in vegetable prices, with tomatoes soaring almost 40 per cent.

Alberta, which is in the midst of an oil-led resource boom, has the country's highest annual inflation rate: 4.1 per cent. Prices in just the one-month period between December and January rose 1.3 per cent.

Statistics Canada had earlier reported that the average hourly wage in Alberta rose 7.4 per cent in the past year.

More rate hikes coming: analysts

Analysts say there's nothing in the report to dissuade the Bank of Canada from hiking interest rates at its next policy-setting date of March 7.

"Inflation is steady, but not overheating," BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Jennifer Lee said in a morning commentary. "The report is consistent with the [Bank of Canada] continuing to raise rates at a modest pace."

U.S. inflation surges

Inflation in the U.S. jumped by a bigger-than-expected 0.7 per cent in January, also on rising energy costs.

Analysts had been expecting a 0.5 per cent increase.

Excluding food and energy, consumer prices rose by a modest 0.2 per cent, matching expectations.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Edmonton high end home sales Press Release

In Edmonton, January 2006 saw a 100% increase in sales over January 2005 in homes over $500,000.00 and there is huge potential for growth. Calgary sold close to 10x's more properties over $1,000,000.00 than Edmonton in 2005. Steady growth for Edmonton's high end market is expected to continue as construction costs soar.

"Not only do we offer the exclusive Coldwell Banker Previews marketing program (where you can search executive and luxury homes around the world) to our high end homes but our website has some of the best quality virtual tours in the real estate industry today - we have just introduced our Real Estate home show and it blows the competition away for presenting upper tier properties" says Sara Maclennan, Marketing director for Coldwell Banker Johnston.

"We have added satellite mapping technology to all our listings and give some of the best most skilled service anywhere, guaranteed by our Ultimate Service Guarantee in order to give our clients the complete CBJ advantage in marketing their extremely valuable investments."

These services are available only in the Edmonton, Sherwood Park, and St. Albert market places. "In time other companies will follow this committment," says president Ken Johnston "but for now Sara has given us a huge advantage in the Edmonton market especially in the $500,000 plus market place. " For more information contact Sara Maclennan at 1 888 336 7356 or

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Alberta Housing Prices Leading the Country

I found this article from the National Post, and was intrigued by the title: Centre of universe shifts West. It talks about how Alberta's economy is so strong, and the Calgary housing market is going through the roof. Calgary's average housing prices are expected to surpass Toronto this year, making them second only to Vancouver. What does this have to do with Edmonton? Well, Alberta's economy is growing, not just Calgary's, and Edmonton is a much more affordable market to invest in. The article is below...

Calgary recorded its highest housing prices ever in January, and is poised to overtake Toronto as Canada's second-largest housing market.

Garry Marr, National Post
Published: Saturday, February 18, 2006

A critical shortage of housing for sale in Calgary and a red-hot economy have driven prices to an all-time high in the city and created a panicked state among consumers looking for homes.

Sales in Calgary's existing homes market jumped almost 50% in January from a year earlier, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. At the same time, the number of homes being put on the market for sale was down 16.2% from a year earlier. The result was a record $289,130 average price for a home sold last month, leaving prices in the city 20.2% ahead of last year and on pace to eclipse Toronto as the second-most expensive city in the country for housing.

"There is a shortage of listings in Calgary and very strong demand," said Gregory Klump, chief economist with the Ottawa-based association, which is predicting sales and prices in Alberta to outpace the rest of the country this year.

The picture of Calgary on the way up and Toronto on the way down is part of a growing dichotomy in the country that is making national statistics meaningless. "We have two different economies in the country, the one in the West and the one in the rest of the country," said Benjamin Tal, a senior economist with CIBC World Markets.

Mr. Tal said the way economies in Alberta and Ontario are working, Calgary real estate prices could easily pass those in Toronto this year. "The numbers are simply unbelievable. Look at mortgage size: It is rising. Look at wealth and income in Calgary: It is rising. Everything is stronger than Toronto. Gross domestic product will rise by 7% in Alberta this year; that is like China."

Ted Zaharko, who owns Royal LePage Foothills Real Estate Services in Calgary, has been in the business for 35 years but has never seen the market as strong as it is today. "This is different. There is a panic in the market because there is an extreme shortage of supply."

Mr. Zaharko said Calgary will usually have about 6,000 houses listed, but he thinks that number is probably near 1,000 today. Consumers are even flipping houses -- that is, buying them without ever occupying the homes.

"I was talking to a lawyer last week about a house a couple bought one day, only to have to sell it 24 hours later when the husband got transferred. They ended up selling the house one day later for another $65,000," Mr. Zaharko said. The couple who bought the house were told it was being flipped. "They didn't care, they just wanted it," the real estate broker said.

Toronto sales prices appear to have stalled based on the January stats. The average price of a home sold in the city was $332,670 last month, only a 2.9% jump from a year ago.

"Central Canada is just not seeing the same sort of volume that we are," said Elton Ash, a vice-president with Re/Max Western Canada. Vancouver continues to be the most expensive market in the country.

Is it criminal to sell your own home in Edmonton?

No. It is not, but you may unwittingly be part of a growing problem of mortgage fraud, and from the law's point of view ignorance is no excuse. Mortgage fraud in Canada is a problem and Edmonton is estimated to be on the top of the list for violations. You probably know someone who may have committed mortgage fraud. Mortgage fraud is defined as:

“The material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relied upon by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase or insure a mortgage loan.”
- Canadian Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders

Here is a link to a resource for consumers from the Alberta Real Estate Council. It is a tip sheet that can help sellers prevent becoming a victim to this growing and serious problem.

With over 100 years combined real estate in the Edmonton area professionals at Coldwell Banker Johnston will protect you from becoming a victim. Don't let what should be a positive experience turn into a nightmare for you and your family.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Assumable Mortgages

The Edmonton Real Estate Board recently published the following article on assumable mortgages. One thing is for certain, the days of assuming a mortgage without first qualifying are over...

A mortgage in Alberta is (as we lawyers say) a covenant that runs with the land. In other words, the mortgage attaches itself to the land and stays there even if the ownership of the land changes. In that sense, all mortgages are assumable. Anyone who purchases a piece of land is bound by the mortgage that stays on Title when the land is transferred to the new owner. A careful reading of most mortgages in Alberta whether conventional or high ratio,will reveal a paragraph that says something like the following: “Should the Mortgagor transfer the property to a new owner the Mortgagee has the right to require the new owner to qualify and has the right to declare the mortgage due in full.”

In 1974, the Royal Bank relied on a similar “due on sale” clause and commenced foreclosure proceedings against the new owner. The Court decided the clause was valid and enforceable. However, the purchaser asked the Court to exercise its discretion and provide relief from the enforcement of this clause. The Courts agreed with the homeowner and a stay of the bank’s foreclosure was ordered. That is where matters have remained since 1974. The clause is valid. However, the Courts in Alberta have yet to allow a foreclosure through to completion on the sole basis of the “due on sale” clause – until recently.

During the past year several lenders have been increasingly relying on the “due on sale” clause in their mortgage. They have been monitoring their mortgages and when they see a new owner they are stepping forward to force the new owner to qualify. And if the new owner does not qualify the lender will call the mortgage. In most cases, the lender is able to “convince” the borrower that their life will be pretty miserable if they do not pay off the mortgage.

In addition, with the recent cases of real estate fraud, the courts are willing to enforce the “due on sale” clause in the appropriate circumstances.

The bottom line is that mortgages in Alberta are all assumable. However, you may wish to caution every client they may have to apply to the Court and a decision from 1974 could, in different circumstances, be reversed. All in all, not a happy experience for anyone involved.

During the past year several lenders have been increasingly relying on the “due on sale” clause in their mortgage. They have been monitoring their mortgages and when they see a new owner they are stepping forward to force the new owner to qualify. And if the new owner does not qualify the lender will call the mortgage. In most cases, the lender is able to “convince” the borrower that their life will be pretty miserable if they do not pay off the mortgage.

In addition, with the recent cases of real estate fraud, the courts are willing to enforce the “due on sale” clause in the appropriate circumstances.

The bottom line is that mortgages in Alberta are all assumable. However, you may wish to caution every client they may have to apply to the Court and a decision from 1974 could, in different circumstances, be reversed. All in all, not a happy experience for anyone involved.

Stan Galbraith & Stacy Maurier
Galbraith Law
Fri, Feb 10, 2006 13:13

Alberta Unemployment Rate Drops to Lowest in 24 Years

According to an article in the Edmonton Journal today, the unemployment rate is the second lowest on record, and the lowest it's been in 24 years. It now sits at 3.5% - the lowest it's ever been was 3.3% in 1981.

"It's a wonderful time for many workers," said Ian Glassford, chief financial officer at Capital City Savings. "Young people have the opportunity to build careers."

"I don't think you can expect it to go much lower," said economist Dianne Keefe, with Keefe Taylor & Associates management consultants.

Three per cent may be only "frictional unemployment" of people who are changing jobs, she said.

"Alberta is the poster child for what a red-hot economy looks like," according to CIBC World Markets Inc. economists Warren Lovely and Leslie Preston, who believe the province will enjoy economic leadership for years to come and post a seven-per-cent expansion this year.

"Persistently high oil and gas prices mean Alberta's economic edge should prove much more lasting than the one it saw in the late 1970s (and) early 1980s," the economists predict. Unemployment rose after 1981, reaching more than 11.1 per cent in 1985.

"Alberta's growth advantage will be equally pronounced in 2007 ... a province-leading six-per-cent gain ... and above-average growth further out," according to CIBC.

Over the past 12 months, Alberta gained 39,700 jobs -- for a total of 1,780,200.

"The economy is being driven by oil and gas investments," said Bob Ascah, vice president of research and analysis at ATB Financial.

The energy sector itself gained 8,400 jobs.

But the planning for Alberta energy projects creates work for professional, scientific and technical services -- which gained 25,500 jobs in the past year.

Energy projects require construction, which "flows into fabrication and transportation," he said.

And workers in those sectors buy hotel rooms and restaurant meals. The projects also require real estate, banking and insurance services.

While 40,000 jobs are welcome, the low unemployment rate also reflects slow growth in Alberta's labour force, as the province struggles to attract immigrants.

"One thing that drives immigration is relative unemployment rates," Keefe said.

With seasonally adjusted unemployment of only 6.6 per cent across Canada, and a strong British Columbia economy, many workers have little reason to move to Alberta.

"And we do not attract a high percentage of international immigrants," Keefe said.

"There seem to be more jobs being created than filled," Ascah agreed.

He said one problem is that immigrant engineers and other foreign professionals face obstacles in applying for Alberta credentials.

While Canada gained 269,000 jobs in the past 12 months, the goods-producing sector actually declined.

Manufacturing shed more than 120,000 jobs.

"That's largely a result of the high Canadian dollar," Glassford said.

Alberta manufacturers lost 14,200 jobs but Glassford thinks their future is strong because, unlike central Canadian manufacturers, they do not face foreign competition in a time of a high Canadian dollar.

"Many of our manufacturers are energy-related."

Edmonton had 4.3 per cent unemployment in January, compared to 2.3 per cent in northwest Alberta and 4.4 per cent in Calgary.

Over the past year, Alberta aboriginal people living off-reserve held 62,700 jobs -- well up from 55,300 one year earlier.

As more aboriginal people entered the workforce, their unemployment rate rose to 10.6 per cent from 9.4 per cent.

BACK IN 1981 ...

The last time Alberta posted a lower unemployment rate was in August 1981. Here are some other things that happened that year:

- Alberta government raises minimum wage by 30 cents to $3.50 an hour (Current rate is $7 an hour).
- West Edmonton Mall opens doors for first time.
- Federal energy minister Marc Lalonde, in referring to the battle between Alberta and Ottawa over energy pricing, says: "It has become a shootout between the good guys and the bad guys, a struggle between the forces of darkness and light, a battle between right and wrong."
- Edmonton's food bank, the first in Canada, is incorporated.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Edmonton Real Estate Market Update

The Edmonton real estate board puts out a monthly news release that gives the media information about house prices and real estate info for all types of real estate for the Edmonton area. Well folks it looks like the news is going to be more of the same for the coming months. Hold on to your hats it looks like the pace of the market is going to be pretty hectic.

Record Setting Pace Continues in January 2006

Edmonton, February 2, 2006: The record setting pace of home sales in Edmonton and area continued into the first month of the New Year. Sales of all types of property through the Edmonton Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in the month of January surpassed all previous Januarys with total sales of 1,325 units valued at over $270 million.

“The sales success in January might have been driven by the mild temperatures and lack of snow,” said Madeline Sarafinchan, EREB President. “But it is more likely the continuation of the same hot market we experienced last year.” A stellar economy, industrial expansion and business confidence is creating a climate that favours long-term investments such as property.

Single-family homes sold for an average price* of $235,222 in January, up 4.5% from December and setting a new record high for this market. Condominium sale prices were down 10.4% from December at $133.745 on average. Duplex and row house had an average price of $177,429; down 10.8%. The average price for all residential property edged up towards the $200,000 mark ending at $199,148 – up $5,214 from last month and a new record.

Residential sales in January increased to 1,175 units – up 29.4% from last month and 32.6% from January 2005. However, the number of new listings decreased by 13.4 from last January to 1,615. There were 2,680 residential properties in the MLS® inventory as of January 31. The average days-on-market in December was 45 days – up three from last month but down ten days from a year ago.

“The issue this year will be to maintain suitable inventory,” said Sarafinchan. “As the number of available homes decreases it is even more critical to stay in close contact with your REALTOR® who can advise you within minutes when a suitable home comes onto the market.” Sarafinchan reminds buyers that 30 to 100 homes come onto the market every day and the selection varies constantly. All homes listed on the Edmonton MLS® can be viewed by REALTORS® as soon as they are entered. The MLS® system can automatically e-mail a potential buyer within 15 minutes of a home meeting their requirements becoming available.

Sales of rural listings were up in all categories in January. Over 300 properties were listed for sale with 121 being sold. Total sales revenue was $29.8 million, which is more than double the sales volume for the same month in 2004.

January 2006 Activity Record * % change from 2005
Total MLS® sales this month 1,325* 31.80%
Value of total MLS® sales - month $270 million* 43.60%
Value of total MLS® sales - year $270 million* 43.60%
Residential¹ sales this month 1,175* 32.60%
Residential average price $199,148* 10.40%
SFD² average selling price - month $235,222* 14.00%
SFD² median³ selling price $211,500* 16.20%
Condo average selling price $133,745 5.01%

¹. Residential includes SFD, condos and duplex/row houses.
². Single Family Dwelling
³. The middle figure in a list of all sales prices

* Average prices indicate market trends only. They do not reflect actual prices, which may vary.

For more information on this and any of your real estate related questions feel free to contact us.

If you want to see how we can save you money in or make you money in this environment put our expertise to work for you. With over 100 years of experience we are your Edmonton and area market professionals.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

West Edmonton Home for sale

Priced Below Current Appraisal and way below replacement cost

Sheldon Johnston of Coldwell Banker Johnston real estate is proud to present this suberbly upgraded 2 storey with lake view in the desirable community of Glastonbury (Parkland) in West Edmonton.

Complete Virtual Tour and Google Satellite Map

  • ”We built this to stay and put in all kinds of extras into it that we wouldn’t have otherwise!”
  • Highlighted by tasteful, neutral tones throughout the home
  • Backs on to greenbelt with lake view
  • High end ceramic tile and luxurious, but practical carpet
  • Gourmet kitchen with extended nook includes top of the line appliances
  • Capitalize on built in desk and storage areas in oversize 2nd and 3rd bedrooms
  • Luxurious, appreciably spaced master bedroom and ensute
  • Conveniently located family bath rooms
  • Stylish, additional stone work at the front provides extra appeal
  • Quality smart home wiring
  • Convenient, double attached garage
  • Attractive landscaping hilights this property
  • This home is a must to been seen by any one looking for an exceptional value.

    Replacement cost estimated at $360,000-$370,000 based on house price of $224,000 plus: architectural guidelines - $3500, upgrades (flooring, floorplan, stonework, lighting, window coverings ect.) - $42,000, lot (lowest cost lot in area which is smaller and not on a greenbelt) - $80,000, landscaping - $10,000, appliances - $5000, security system - $1000.

    The above information is believed to be correct but is not warranted to be so and has not been verified. Should any of the above information be important it should be verified by the parties concerned. Sheldon is a licensed agent in the province of Alberta.

  • Visit to search all Edmonton listings and view current house price information for the entire Edmonton area.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    What will $1 Million Get You?

    Century 21 Canada did a survey of Canadian markets, investigating what $1.1 million will get you. Here are some of the results:

    Toronto: two-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot apartment in Toronto's Harbourfront district which comes with a penthouse panoramic view of Lake Ontario.

    Saint John, N.B.: 11-bedroom, 81/2 bathroom Queen-Anne-style mansion of 7,000 square feet on 1.4 acres -- plus a 1,446-square-foot townhouse in the city centre, with a harbour view.

    East Saanich, B.C. near Victoria: 10,000 square feet for $995,000 - just for the ocean-view lot, no house included!

    Edmonton: five-bedroom, four-bathroom home on Ada Boulevard, overlooking the river valley.
    The 5,500-square-foot home, on a large lot, has air conditioning, multiple fireplaces, six-car garage, gym, hot tub, wine cellar and nanny suite.

    Regina: $735,000 will buy you a 3,700-square-foot home in the Wascana View neighborhood. The bungalow sits on a 14,700-square-foot lot, has four fireplaces, a four-car garage and a swimming pool. Leaving you enough cash to buy a $229,000, 1,000-square-foot cottage on Pasqua Lake, 45 minutes from Regina.

    Calgary: the city has seen a jump in the number of homes selling in the $1-million range. This month alone, eight houses have sold for $1 million already where supply is not keeping up with demand - more than half of sales are going for over list price.

    Search all Edmonton MLS Listings.