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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Putting Housing Prices in Perspective

This report was just released by Century 21, and dicusses the increase in housing prices in a number of Canadian markets in the past five years. What is really interesting about the survey, is they compare the increase in housing prices, to other things like the cost of milk, or gas. It definitely puts things in perspective.

VANCOUVER, May 17 /CNW/ - Increases in Canadian house prices over the past five years - dramatic in Alberta and British Columbia and strong in the rest of the country - are the result of a robust economy that has also seen a dramatic rise in key Canadian economic indicators and popular lifestyle and
consumer items, according to an analysis by CENTURY 21 Canada released today.

Price increases over five years for typical homes across the country in a selection of markets surveyed by CENTURY 21 range from as high as 129 per cent in Vernon, in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, to as low as 12 per cent in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Other hot housing markets surveyed include Calgary north-east, up 121 per cent; Fort McMurray, up 105 per cent; Kelowna, up 89 per cent; North Vancouver, up 87 per cent; Quebec City, up 67 per cent; the Winnipeg suburb of St. Vital South, up 64 per cent; Peterborough, up 54 per cent; and Dartmouth, up 46 per cent.

Don Lawby, President of CENTURY 21 Canada, says Canada's housing prices are the result of strong economic performance in every region of the country. "The economy continues to provide the job stability and consumer confidence combined with moderate mortgage interest rates to bring continued, stable house price growth on the Prairies, in Central Canada and in Atlantic Canada," said Lawby. "In British Columbia and Alberta, the same economic factors plus booming energy and construction sectors have produced dramatic house price increases."

"Our five-year National House Price Survey includes non-housing benchmarks because we want to put the housing market into perspective with other economic indicators and some popular consumer items that Canadians will be choosing this summer," said Lawby.

Indeed, house prices haven't risen in isolation. During the period from 2001 to 2006, other key consumer and economic benchmarks have also turned in impressive performances(1):
- The price of a litre of regular gasoline increased in Edmonton to $1.02 from 68.8 cents, up 48 per cent, and in St. John's, to $1.16 from 88.4 cents, up 31 per cent.
- A litre of homogenized milk increased to $1.86 from $1.55, up 20 per cent.
- The manufacturers' suggested retail price for a base model (DX sedan) of the best-selling car in Canada, the Honda Civic, increased to $19,405 from $17,650, up 10 per cent.
- Average undergraduate university tuitions increased 22 percent overall and ranged from an increase in British Columbia to $4,874 from $2,592 per year, up 88 per cent, to a decline in Newfoundland and Labrador to $2,606 from $3,373, down 29 per cent.
- The most affordable ticket at the 89th Grey Cup Game in 2001 in Montreal when the Calgary Stampeders defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27-19 was $58, compared with the posted price of $75 for the most affordable ticket at the 2006 Grey Cup to be played in Winnipeg
November 19th, up 29 per cent.
- The fee to hike the world-famous West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island has increased to $110 per person in 2006 from $70 per person in 2001, up 57 per cent.
- A grounds pass to the final day of the 2001 Canadian Open Golf Championship at the Royal Montreal Golf Club was $65, compared with $70 for the final day of the 2006 event to be played at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club September 4-10, an increase of 8 per cent.
- The TSX Composite Index increased to 11,933 from 8,146, up 46 per cent.
- The Canadian dollar versus the American dollar increased to 90.2 cents from 64.5 cents, up 41 per cent.
- The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased to 129.3 from 116.4, up 11 per cent.

At the same time, a few items actually declined:
- The price of an Olympus C-3000 digital camera with 3.34 mega pixels declined to $400 in 2006 from $400 in 2001, down 125 per cent.
- The Canadian unemployment rate declined to 6.7 per cent from 7.0 per cent, down .3 per cent.
- Mortgage rates have also posted a moderate decline over the past five years. The posted interest rate for a conventional five-year mortgage was 7.75 per cent in May 2001, 5.7 per cent in June 2005 and 6.75 per cent May 15, 2006, contributing to the activity in the
housing market and the resulting price increases.

The CENTURY 21 Canada National House Price Survey reflects the price of a typical home in communities across Canada. A "typical home" is the type of home that occurs most frequently in any given neighbourhood or community.

These homes are not identical, but meet a fairly narrow range of criteria including size and design. The survey included 38 markets across the country.

Hottest housing markets surveyed in British Columbia are Vernon, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,200-square-foot bungalow with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 55x100-foot lot increased to $355,000 in the spring of 2006 from $155,000 in the spring of 2001, an increase of 129 per cent; Kelowna, where the price of a typical home, described as a
2,006-square-foot split level with four bedrooms and three bathrooms on a 65x120-foot lot increased to $350,000 from $185,000, an increase of 89 per cent; and North Vancouver, where the price of a typical home, described as a 1,800-square-foot bungalow with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 50x150-foot lot has increased to $650,000 from $348,000, an increase of 87 per cent.

Hottest housing markets surveyed in Alberta are Calgary north-east, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,090-square-foot bungalow with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 50x110-foot lot increased to $363,000 in the spring of 2006 from $164,000 in the spring of 2001, an increase of 121 per cent; and Fort McMurray, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,200-square-foot bungalow with three bedrooms and 11/2 bathrooms on a 65x100- foot lot increased to $410,000 from $200,000, an increase of
105 per cent.

Hottest housing market surveyed on the Prairies is the Winnipeg suburb of St. Vital South, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,500-square-foot two-storey home with three bedrooms and 21/2 bathrooms on a 50x110-foot lot increased to $200,000 in the spring of 2006 from $122,000 in the spring of 2001, an increase of 64 per cent.

Hottest housing markets surveyed in Ontario are Peterborough, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,050-square-foot bungalow with three bedrooms and 11/2 bathrooms on a 50x150-foot lot increased to $202,000 in the spring of 2006 from $131,000 in the spring of 2001, an increase of 54 per cent; and Kitchener-Waterloo, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,200-square-foot two-storey home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 45x120-foot lot increased to $245,500 from $163,000, an increase of 51 per cent.

Hottest housing market surveyed in Quebec is Quebec City, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,000- square-foot bungalow with three bedrooms and one bathroom on a 50x100-foot lot increased to $150,000 in the spring of 2006 from $90,000 in the spring of 2001, an increase of 67 per cent.

In Atlantic Canada, the hottest housing market surveyed is Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, where the price of a typical home described as a 1,500-square-foot bungalow with four bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 55x110-foot lot increased to $155,000 in the spring of 2006 from $106,000 in
the spring of 2001, an increase of 46 per cent.

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