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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Edmonton Condo Prices Increasing Fast

This report by Remax shows demand for condos is increasing faster in Edmonton and Calgary than anywhere else in Canada while prices are considerably lower than Toronto or Vancouver...

Condominium sales post double-digit gains in Q1 2006 in most major Canadian centres, says RE/MAX

"For some first-time buyers, condominiums represent the only means of
homeownership."

MISSISSAUGA, ON, May 11 /CNW/ - Unprecedented demand for condominium
apartments and town homes has sparked double-digit gains in unit sales in most
major Canadian centres during the first quarter of 2006, according to a report
released today by RE/MAX.

The RE/MAX Condominium Report found that both sales and prices were
climbing in the eight markets examined, including Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto,
Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Victoria, and Vancouver. The highest percentage
increases were found in Alberta, with sales in both Calgary and Edmonton ahead
of 2005 first quarter figures by approximately 40 per cent. The number of
condominiums sold in Victoria, Kelowna, and Toronto were up in excess of
10 per cent, while more moderate gains of five, four and three per cent were
reported in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Halifax respectively.

"Rapid price appreciation has had a definite impact on condominium sales
across the country," says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President and
Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "As the cost of more
conventional housing rises, condominiums represent the only means of home
ownership for some first-time buyers."

Western markets, in particular, are reporting strong upward pressure on
overall residential average price (includes all single-family dwellings,
including condominiums). To illustrate, housing values in Calgary rose a
substantial 26 per cent to just over $308,000 year-to-date while average price
in Vancouver jumped 22 per cent over the 2005 level to more than $482,000.

Although Toronto experienced a more modest increase of approximately six per
cent over Q1 2005, hot pocket areas are seeing even greater appreciation.

"Affordability has become a serious issue across the country," says Elton
Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. "Despite
relatively low interest rates and the availability of longer amortization
periods, many first-time buyers are finding they have to stretch their budgets
to realize the dream of home ownership. Condominiums are the easy answer for
most because they offer the best of both worlds -- affordability and
location."

Entry-level purchasers and move-up buyers, typically aging baby boomers,
are most active in the condominium market. The most popular price point is
$150,000 - $250,000, although in markets like Vancouver and Toronto, the
strongest segments are closer to $300,000 - $400,000. Luxury sales are brisk
from coast to coast, with almost all markets surveyed reporting an upswing in
sales over $500,000. In Toronto, sales of condominiums priced in excess of
$500,000 have risen 68 per cent to 170 units year-to-date, compared to
101 units during the same period in 2005.

"For many years, young professionals under the age of 40 dominated
Toronto's condominium market," says Polzler. "The pendulum is now starting to
shift, with baby boomers between 50 to 60 years of age emerging as a force in
the marketplace. The condominium lifestyle is the major attraction for most
mature buyers."

In Vancouver, more and more upscale developments are coming on-stream,
especially in the Coal Harbour and the Beach Crescent neighbourhoods.

"With Canada's economic engine firing on all cylinders, and no dark
clouds on the horizon, it's relatively safe to say that 2006 will be a banner
year for condominium sales across the board," says Ash. "This is particularly
true in the West, where condominiums are becoming an increasingly attractive
alternative to single-detached housing."

Highlights:

- Inventory levels were an issue in many markets examined, resulting in
upward pressure on condominium values.
- Multiple offers were commonplace in three markets during the first
quarter of 2006 - Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.
- Condominiums accounted for close to 50 per cent of total residential
sales in the Greater Area Vancouver between January - March 31, 2006.

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