Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mini Market Report

"Taking the Alberta side as an example, there was a 3.8 per cent decrease in unit sales in Oct. 2007 from Oct. 2006. However, new listings were up 39 per cent, indicating an increase in supply.
“We’ve had an under-supply for quite a long time so it’s not altogether a bad thing to have people having a choice,” “That’s what the buyers would say, it’s not so hot for sellers.” Kathy Harvey, president of the Lloydminster Real Estate Board Association

Buyers may have more choice, but it is unlikely they will be paying any less for their home as average listing price has increased 25 per cent from last year. The average home price for the Alberta side is $245,000 and $188,000 for Saskatchewan. These averages also take into consideration surrounding areas where house prices are lower."

Everyone seems to be of the same consensus the market is balancing from it's meteoric rise last year. We'll feel the softening for about 6 months but after that the market in Edmonton will pick up again.

Read More Here

Canadians Buying In The US

Everyday we hear about the strong Canadian dollar and the slowing US market. Now seems to be the perfect time to pick up your winter snowbird retreat or get an investment property in an otherwise fundamentally sound region.

Brian Wruk, co-author of The Canadian Snowbird in America has some great points for Canadians looking to head south.

California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida all have foreclosures at all time highs and the place you were looking at on Vancouver Island is now close to $1 million.

"People can sell there, buy here (Phoenix, Ariz.) for $500,000, and put the difference in their pocket."

Once you get your financials in order there are some easily forgotten points that you should consider:

Take your meds: But remember that drugs with codeine require prescriptions in the U.S. If you must take prescription medicine, ask your doctor for a letter explaining why and the recommended dosage. Take only as much as you need.

Satellite TV: If you want to watch Hockey Night in Canada, you'll need a Canadian satellite receiver. BellExpressVu says it's illegal to use their system in the U.S. -- but StarChoice says there's no problem.

Gambling disasters: Win or lose, keep a diary of dates, locations, games played and outcomes. Your winnings will be taxed but you can claim a refund by proving offsetting losses.

Driver's licence: Be sure your licence, vehicle registration and passport will not expire while you're away.

Travelling with a pet: You'll need a health certificate from a vet and a letter confirming your pet is from a rabies-free zone or, for a dog, proof of a rabies shot at least 30 days earlier. Don't even try crossing with an exotic pet.

Perogies: Eat your fill before you go because, in the U.S., you won't find perogies, ginger beef, Oh Henry! bars, HP Sauce, Shreddies, Clamato juice -- or Canadian beer.

Source: Terry Ritchie with Brian Wruk, The Canadian Snowbird in America

Read The Entire Article Here

Saturday, December 08, 2007

This And That

Oilpatch braces for new arrivals - "New census details from Statistics Canada show that Alberta hasn't lost its grip as the province considered by Canadians as the country's promised land.

More than 225,000 people moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada between 2001 and 2006, the latest census figures show.

A slight drop from the last census period, the figure still maintains Alberta's status by far as the province with the highest net gain of population due to migration from other provinces."

Growth in population means increases in housing prices

Calgary's property tax plan half of what they want here! - "While Edmontonians could be clobbered with a 10.9% property tax hike in the new year, our Cowtown (Calgary) cousins are being asked to pony up less than half that - 4.5%."

Edmonton has a smaller population to pay taxes that's why Calgary pays less

For Big Cities A Taxing Dilemma- "Mr. Brooks said he fears Vancouver could end up losing some of its head offices to friendlier tax jurisdictions in other provinces, such as Calgary and Edmonton, which ranked much better in the REALpac study as the country's second- and third-friendliest cities in property tax terms behind St. John's."

Business friendly cities get the business it's common sense

Credit Crunch Won't Affect Real Estate - “Fundamentals remain strong and are capable of weathering a slowing global economy, while tighter lending requirements in North America and Europe are putting moderate-leverage investors in a better position to secure deals at improved pricing,” says Jacques Gordon, global strategist at LaSalle Investment Management. “The future offers a return to more normal leverage and margin levels that will enable those who truly understand the property markets to prosper.”

Real estate is a safe solid investment

What Do You Want In Your Luxury Home?

Do you have a heated drive? How about a personal elevator?

Royal Lepage released it's top 10 list of the most sought after luxury home additions in multi-million dollar homes. Anything you can dream of you can get, and some people are, in their multi-million dollar cribs.

"The bar just keeps getting higher when it comes to outfitting one's multimillion-dollar pad," Royal LePage

The list included:

1. Elevator Car Lifts

2. Indoor Car Washes

3. Walk In Fridges

4. Home Gyms

5. Wine Cellars

Other popular accessories include:

1.Personal Elevators

2. Theatre Rooms

3. Screened- in outdoor eating areas

4. heated driveways

5. sewing and or wrapping rooms

"Accessorizing the property with the hottest must-haves is a natural extension of living a luxury lifestyle and a way to stand out from the crowd," Elli Davis, a sales rep with Royal LePage Real Estate Services.

Here is my top 6 list:

1. Perpetual Swimming Pool

2. A Gym

3. A home Theatre

4. A Japanese Style Bath

5. A Huge Brick Fireplace

6. Glassed in Deck Kitchen

So what will you have? The heated driveway or the personal elevator?

Jayne Johnson's Tips For The Holidays

Jayne Johnson of The Clearing Sight wrote two great blogs on how to prepare for the holidays. If you don't know who Jayne is here is a blurb from her site:

"Jayne’s perspective is that practical knowledge and spiritual wisdom have many sources and over 36 years has studied a wide variety of resources, including the works of Napoleon Hill, Deepak Chopra, Joseph Campbell, R. Buckminster Fuller, Robert Kiyosaki, Wayne Dyer, Paul Brenner, M.D., Marianne Williamson, Rev. Terry Cole-Whittaker, and Earl Nightingale, to name just a few."

She is quite well known for helping Robert Kioyosaki write a goal plan for the Rich Dad Poor Dad game.

“I wrote the business plan for Rich Dad Poor Dad and my board game, Cashflow, at a two-day goal setting workshop with Jayne Johnson, in January of 1996. Without Jayne’s goal setting technology, I doubt if Rich Dad Poor Dad would have become as successful as it is today. That two-day work shop has made me millions of dollars, over and over again. In my opinion, it is the most powerful goal setting technology available today.”

- Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad

We know they are stressful and you end up more exhausted than before they began, so why not take some this great advice and take a load off?

She advises to ask for help, prioritize, avoid conflict and negative people and listen to music and pray. Solid advice if you ask me!

Go to her blog here to read the full list

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Edmonton Is Cold But It's Economy Is Hot

I love to say I told you so!

"For the first time on record, the city of Edmonton tops our city ranking in terms of economic momentum," CIBC's World Markets economic activity index

Edmonton's top rank is due to strong population growth, outstanding employment gains, the lowest unemployment rate in Canada and lower than average personal and corporate insolvency rates .

Calgary the old leader slipped into second spot with a score of 24.5, compared to Edmonton's 30.1 . The city's slippage was credited to a slowdown in the pace of job creation momentum in the city -- less than that of Edmonton, Victoria and Saskatoon -- and a cooler (but still excellent) housing market.

Young Workforce Values Elder Workforce

Alberta's Greatest Resource Is People.

Canada has the youngest population of any developed country and Alberta has the youngest population in Canada.At a median age of 35.9, Alberta's advantage is it's young highly trained and sustainable workforce.

In turn younger families are causing a "rippling economic boom effect"; as they have children the demands on daycares and other facilities are increased . Daycares with huge waiting lists are turning to seniors to help ease their labour strain.

"Alberta is an energetic and vibrant place that's attracting young workers," she said. "But we're also seeing how seniors are returning to work - like a 76-year-old electrician I know - or are volunteering on a full-time basis."

"There may have been a period of disregard for the older worker,"

"Now they're seen as responsible and reliable - and are valued.
Ruth Maria Adria The Elder Advocates Society of Alberta chairman

It seems as if we are coming full circle. In the past it was always the elders in the family that helped rear the young. Now while your mom is a snowbird in Belize you can get a volunteer or paid senior to help with your child care needs.

It seems like everyone wins.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Life Expectancy Calculator

What would be the point of being highly successful, surrounded by a loving family and living a gorgeous lifestyle if you were sick or in poor health? Our everyday choices that seem innocuous now will lay our future health and longevity.

This fantastic Life Expectancy Calculator was forwarded to me by a friend who found it very thorough. I took the test and felt the personalized detailed report was the most in depth I had seen yet.

"The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator uses the most current and carefully researched medical and scientific data in order to estimate how old you will live to be. Most people score in their late eighties... how about you?

Thomas Perls MD, MPH is the founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study, the largest study of centenarians and their families in the world. More can be learned about the study at www.bumc.bu.edu/centenarian."

Click Here To Take The Test

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Neil Waugh On Affordable Housing

"Developers packed a public hearing and told the council Pollyannas their "affordable" housing strategy is a no-go. Especially if they expect them to commit 5% of every project to multi-family projects where rent, presumably, would be capped.

The same seriously flawed policy has already encountered stormy seas when property owners learned the pleasant school space in their neighbourhoods will now be jammed with low-rent condos.

Edmonton Urban Development Institute director Michael Mooney said some developers might play along, but only if council slashes taxes or shrinks the size of arterial roads so developers can bring on more lots.

And now the whole mess is going back to city hall's long-suffering bureaucrats for an overhaul." Read Article Here

Canada's Layer Cake of Housing

Vancouver and Victoria are the icing too sweet and rich for most tastes but tempting I will give you that.

Calgary Edmonton and Toronto are the cake substantial and Ottawa, Hamilton and Montreal are the pan lower cost ( I know I am grasping for that one).

"Three cities are leading in terms of year-over-year percentage gains in house prices, both new and existing — Saskatoon, Edmonton and Regina. Price advances in Alberta’s other major centre, Calgary, have eased. Winnipeg’s new home sellers are finally participating in better housing markets. Windsor, due to its auto sector woes, is the only city in the country with declining house prices.

As for absolute house prices, there are three obvious tiers in Canada. House prices in Vancouver and Victoria, on average, are in a class by themselves, at approximately 50% above any other city in the country. Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton house prices form a second tier. Ottawa, Hamilton and Montréal are in a third lower-priced grouping."

These graphs show the year over year change in Canadian home sale prices and existing home prices

Edmonton Market Letting Off Steam

Edmonton market is letting off some steam and i will too.

PRICES ARE PLUMMETING! - I would hardly call a 6.5% price correction over 5 months plummeting, especially since prices have risen 74% over the last 17. Price correction anyone?

THE ROYALTIES HAVE RUINED THE ECONOMY! - Many articles say the Royalties are balanced and not half as severe as proposed in the original review or even close to other oil rich countries. Hugo Chavez anyone?

THE MARKET IS FLOODED! - Sure there are more listings than say this summer when multiple offers where the norm and a frenzy made the market not a nice place for buyers. People are out there now trying to see what they can get or maybe they bought a new house, are moving or want to cash out. At any rate the market is getting more and more balanced. Buying opportunity anyone?

WE ARE BUST PRICES WILL DROP! - Sure you may have to reduce your asking price $10k to sell right now but prices fluctuate and there are a lot of people trying to sell now.

"...prices will still fluctuate, but decision makers are still laying bets that in the long-run, the oil wealth will keep home prices healthy." Jon Hall of the Edmonton Real Estate Board.

Are They Lining Up To Buy?

Saskatchewan real estate values/investing has increased in value recently whether it is due to native Saskatchewan returning home, speculative buyers lured into the market now that Alberta has softened or an exodus due to fear of the effect on Royalties on the Alberta Oil Sands is unclear. I know I say this all the time but - as my mentor says, "What's behind the curtain?"

Take this news release I found on CNW Telbec on the 2007 Property Tax Assessment and Tax Analysis of 2006 Data.

A little background on the assessment it is released by REALpac and prepared by Altus Derbyshire, Realty Tax Consulting and hopes to show both the range of commercial and residential property tax assessments coast to coast in Canada and to determine the trends amongst urban centres, allowing REALpac to extrapolate which cities taxes are going up, going down, and how quickly.

This is their take on Regina Saskatchewan:

"Employees won't be standing in line to move to Regina, since the city also has the highest residential tax rate in Canada, with 2.25% of the value of the property going to municipal tax coffers, followed closely by Winnipeg at 2.20%. On a $200,000 home in Regina, that's an annual property tax bill of $4,500. "It's not clear why Regina's commercial and residential rates are so high as to be leading in both categories, when comparable cities such as Edmonton, are consistently much lower," Michael Brooks, Executive Director of the Real Property Association of Canada

Though real estate prices are rising in Saskatchewan what do people encounter when they buy that cheaper house in Regina? Higher taxes and less employment than Edmonton, not to mention it’s as cold as the arctic over there.

A Rough Christmas for Terry Ellis

It's going to be a tough Christmas for Terry Ellis the 61 year old paralegal that was convicted of supporting a criminal organization by helping to swindle unsuspecting real estate investors out of nearly $30 million.

Her participation in what is believed to be the biggest mortgage fraud in Alberta history; involving over 280 real estate transactions and 19 different banks, has her sitting in a jail cell waiting for sentencing instead of getting ready for the holidays.

"Ellis denied any involvement in the mortgage frauds committed by the co-conspirators. However, the evidence of her actions in this case speaks much louder than her words,"Court of Queen's Bench Justice Gerald Verville

Ellis has reached a notorious first; this may be the first time in Canadian history that a criminal has been convicted of committing economic crimes for the benefit of a criminal organization. The law under which she was charged was passed in January 2002 and is generally used to convict criminals who commit drug crimes for gangs.

Though we may feel badly for this grandmotherly lady and her plight these holidays we should feel sorrier for the people her and her gang of defrauders have swindled and possibly financially ruined. They are having a much rougher Christmas trying to figure out how they will pay back all the money they owe.


Don’t Get Lost In History

Once upon a time there was this crusty old Irish-born frontiersman that went by the name of John George "Kootenai" Brown. Kootenai was off camping and trappin’ (as you do when you’re a pioneer) in the Waterton Lakes area when he noticed some black stuff seeping out of a lake the Natives referred to as ‘Stinking Waters’.
Kootenai soaked up the oil in gunnysacks and used it to lubricate the wheels of his wagon and to fuel his lamps. He also created a device to siphon out the oil. He’d then barrel it, selling it to his neighbors for $1 a gallon.

This was in the early 1900’s and the first time anyone had sold oil in Alberta. 1902 brought along Alberta’s first big ‘boom’.
Other booms followed in 1914 and 1936. But it wasn’t until 1947 when a major strike in Leduc that oil and gas replaced agriculture as the province’s economic driver

Back in 1903 the boom was in full swing. Both honest business folks and speculators poured in. They gathered and began building ‘Oil City’ in hopes of the pumping oil derricks. Canada’s first ‘discovery well’ extracted 300 barrels per day.

The oil was the traditional kind that pumped and spurted out of the ground but turned to a trickle in 1908. ‘Oil Town’ was abandoned and the search for new oil in Alberta was on.

Throughout the decades millions of dollars were made from various oil fields. People came and settled in the province. By the 1950’s more than half of Western Canada’s population-1.3 million, lived in Alberta.
Everyone knew the oil was there, but not gushing- it was locked in the earth. Leaps in technology have been the key to the oil sands and they have become increasingly profitable and sought after. One hundred years later and we’re in the position of maintaining growth, can better understand how to extract the oil efficiently and global thirst for oil is at a paramount.

“Dear Lord, please give me another oil boom and I promise not to blow it”.

Remember that bumper sticker? Quite often there are more reasons of why not to do something then there are of why to. After careful research has been conducted and facts are solid, folks that act like Kootenai and seize the moment are the true frontiersmen.

No one remembers the folks who missed the boom; history remembers those who made it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Alberta Housing Affordability

It's not B.C but it's almost Toronto.

Alberta's affordability has suffered in the last year due to incredible housing price increases. Although we haven't become one of Canada's worst areas we moved up the ranks. The thing is affordability declined across most of the country. Alberta isn`t doing terribly but we need caution. This RBC report went on to say that the economics in Alberta are supportive.

"Albertans now pay a higher share of their country-leading incomes on average than Ontarians across every type of housing, although Torontonians still pay more than Calgarians and Edmontonians for a two-storey home.

Albertans now pay a higher share of their country-leading incomes on average than Ontarians across every type of housing, although Torontonians still pay more than Calgarians and Edmontonians for a two-storey home. Alberta is still, however, avoiding British Columbia’s stressed affordability conditions."
Read More From RBC Reports

Edmonton Office Space

Some of Edmonton's most prestigious office space has increased in value close to 43% over the last year and are projected to shoot up another 8 to 10% next year. Bringing this city's global rank 93 places at $46 per square foot. Even with the incredible jump we are still on the discount side though.

Calgary tops Canada's offices with total occupancy costs of $64 per foot. Toronto comes in at $63.35 and $49.98 in Vancouver. The world's most expensive office space is West End London at $326.67 Cdn, trailed by Bombay's $188.22, London City at $179.57, Moscow at $179.55 and Central Tokyo at $177.40.

The office space in Edmonton will be getting tighter as more companies expand their bases in Canada.

The Ripple Effect

Alberta's boom is affecting it's neighbouring provinces in many ways. From borrowing their young workforce to increasing their property values. The ripple of the billions of dollars invested in Alberta is obvious.

In B.C not only are they catching the run-off of smaller oil companies that can't bear the new Royalties Revision but rich Albertans are buying up water front property like it is going out of style.

The other way Saskatchewan has seen property values rise as native Saskatchewans who have made their money in the oil sands return home and bolster up. The province hopes to attract more of its 125,000 youth lost to the boom province and to scope up some oil sand overflow.

Our neighbours are doing well but it is still Alberta that everyone is investing in now. The Royalties Revision is said to have cost Alberta $10 Billion in projects but there is still close to $170 Billion in projects that are on the way.

Geo-Thermal Energy

A few month ago there was some talk of reducing the use of natural gas in the oil sands and instead using geo-thermal heat to steam the bitumen out of the sticky tarry sand.

The energy is consistant, can reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and requires a small staff load.

"People are becoming more aware of it...." "Also, the biggest reason would be the energy cost of (conventional sources) and the cost savings with (prices of) fossil fuels rising rapidly." Rick Nelson, general manager of Kelowna-based GeoTility Systems Corp.

Rick Nelson hopes that geo-thermal energy will supply 20 to 30 per cent of Canada's energy needs within 5 to 10 years.

To Read This Article Click Here

More Smoke And Mirrors

"Cheng and Wong admitted to the panel that they raised approximately

$3.5 million from roughly 150 Alberta investors, as part of the
development of
three real estate projects to be undertaken by Carling Development Inc. and Carling Development (BC) Ltd. None of the projects
has been completed."
CNW Group

"At the height of the gold rush, a gang of con men operated in Skagway under
the leadership of Soapy Smith.
One of Soapy's best cons involved his "telegraph office."
Recent arrivals were greeted by men who offered to send telegrams to their families for only $5.
Most people did not look behind the "telegraph office" to notice that the wires ended a few yards
Postal Museum
Like the Gold Rush in the late 1890`s Alberta's oil boom is bring con - men out of the woodwork. If you are investing then you should take care to do due diligence and get independent legal advice. Make sure your investment isn't like Soapy's telegraph wires that end a few meters behind a facade.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Transportation Is Key People!

The Edmonton Transportation Effect a report released by Don R. Campbell shows how real estate price increases due to proximity to transportation can be applied to Edmonton.

The results show that homes near new extensions of the LRT and Anthony Henday Drive could see prices rise by 10 to 20 per cent above the Edmonton average over the next three to five years

"When people look for a property to purchase, be it their primary residence or an investment property, they take into consideration affordability, commute times and commute costs," Don R. Campbell President of REIN, author and real estate researcher

Mr. Campbell expects areas like Parkallen, Twin Brooks, Ermineskin, Belgravia, McKernanand Sky Rattler all in Edmonton's South side to see the biggest impact.
Wayne Mandryk, Edmonton's manager of transit projects, confirms that the LRT will likely have a positive effect on adjacent property values.

"Generally speaking research shows that land near transit stations rises in value," he said. "Certainly anyone looking to rent or sell will advertise the fact that it's located close to public transit."

The Edmonton Transportation Effect is available free of charge to non-members. It may be ordered by email at:


A Motivational Success Story

Neither Todd nor I come from ostentatious beginnings. We were born to first generation Canadians who become solidly entrenched in the middle class and made their way in this new cold country. I wouldn't say we ever had it rough. Well sometimes it was a little rough.

Don Lam, now he had it rough. His family fled from Vietnam in 1975 on a leaky boat with about 170 people crammed from one end to the other, they ran out of water after 6 days, managed to avoid pirates and storms. They left to escape persecution when the communist north took over southern Vietnam and finally made their way to Canada.

Now he manages a $1.8 Billion US investment fund in Vietnam.
Now that is success.

Click Here to read his incredible story

Edmonton Market Report

Edmonton's market is still is a plateau which means if you are a buyer you can get some incredible deals. Financing , down payment and terms are all open for negotiation. Especially if you are adept at trawling older listings many people want to sell now.

"Price increases in both Calgary and Edmonton will be more in line with a balanced market. We've had a huge increase in listings in both of those markets. The big run-up in prices has affected affordability and, with it, the number of people who can qualify to purchase."Gregory Klump, CREA's chief economist

Currently 9,753 active listings on the Edmonton market which means you can pick and choose. This won't last long - CMHC predicts price increases in 2008.

Fear Doesn't Equal Paralysis

What were you afraid of last year? Do you even remember?

Yesterday I was driving to a meeting and listening to my newest REIN CD's. REIN is a real estate investment group that focuses on Canadian specific real estate investing led by bestselling author Don R. Campbell.

REIN has monthly meetings across Canada but because Todd and I are out of the country so often we get the meetings on CD sent to us at our Japan office.

No matter where you are you have heard of the Alberta Royalties Tax Revision and if you are an investor in Alberta then perhaps you are concerned about what will happen and how it will affect your properties. If you were thinking of investing but the Royalties are holding you back; then you must read on.

Don R. Campbell summed it up nicely. People worry every year, day and minute. There is a no shortage of things to worry about, many people let this stop them from acting. However, if you do let things stop you, you will never get anywhere.

"I can't invest now the _______ have ruined the economy/world" or "Everything is going to a hot place (I don't mean Tahiti) in a hand basket because_____!" can be the excuse de jour.

His Summary of 2000- 2007 will bring back memories:

2000 - Y2k
2001 - Kyoto Accord/9-11
2003 - SARS/ WMD's
2004 - BSE/ Bird Flu/ West Nile Virus/ US Terror Alerts
2005 - Tsunamis, Katrina/ London Subway Bombings
2006 - Oil Crisis $60 a barrel oil
2007 - Rent controls/ Royalties

Of course many were terrible events for those directly affected. How did they affect you then?

His point is if we let every monster under the bed stop us from acting where will we be when the Royalties are just a memory, like the rent controls are today?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This And That

Alberta premier wants provincial trade barriers dropped -"Premier Ed Stelmach says Alberta is feeling the economic pinch from the soaring dollar, so it's time for the premiers to start talking about eliminating trade barriers between provinces..." " Stelmach says that eliminating this barriers would Stelmach says eliminating such barriers would increase productivity and competitiveness, build a bigger economy and help Canada compete with other trading nations."

Hotel tax boosts tourism budget -"With that 23 per cent increase, there will be an increase in attention to Western Canada, with a really a strong focus on Alberta. There will also be a very strong focus on Canadian and American leisure business."

"The plan is to continue to attract Albertans, given that a booming economy, higher salaries, disposable incomes and growing populations in Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray all point to huge potential for both leisure and business travel to Banff."

Council Mulls Big Tax Hike -"A hike of 10.9% would cost the average homeowner another $164 a year, when increases in the waste management fee, sanitary sewer utility and land drainage utility are factored in.

The average Edmonton homeowner is defined as someone who owns a single-family house assessed by the city at $243,500. The city assessment is often much lower than what the home could fetch on the market." $164 a year is not that much if your property value is rising.

Penn West says Alberta's boom pushed royalty hike -" "We're concerned that the government has increased its take from our sector," "But that's offset by the knowledge that additional funding is required to keep up with the needs of our expanding population, who we greatly depend on for our labor, our knowledge and our services." Bill Andrew Penn West, Canada's No. 2 energy trust's chief executive

"The new cash has created thousands of jobs and a population boom in the province, squeezing strained services and infrastructure that had grown run down and inadequate after more than a decade of government spending cuts.

To cope with the additional demand, the Alberta government plans to spend close to C$20 billion over the next three years on new roads, schools, hospitals and transit, with the royalty hike contributing an extra C$1.4 billion in revenue annually."

It's Not Hard To Believe - US Realtors Down In The Dumps


PricewaterhouseCooper's Emerging Trends in Real estate indicates that people in the real estate industry in Canada are more positive about their prospects for 2008 than their counterparts in the United States.

"The annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute, shows 36 per cent of respondents in Canada who participated in the study viewed their prospects for profitability next year "very good," and another 22.4 per cent said they are "excellent."

By comparison, 34.3 per cent of U.S. respondents said the chances of a profit in 2008 are very good, and 19.3 per cent said they are excellent. The report is based on interviews with more than 600 real estate professionals -- including investors, developers, brokers and lenders -- in Canada and the U.S." Full Article Click Here

I especially like at the end of the article where they propound Calgary and Edmonton's forecast for 2008-

"Calgary and Edmonton rate the highest as far as investment prospects in real estate, though the report says it's unclear whether the recently announced hikes in royalties for oil-and-gas firms in Alberta will affect this.

Calgary is referred to as "Canada's resource capital" and "North America's No. 1 boomtown." All real estate sectors here are strongly recommended, particularly hotel and industrial/distribution properties."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Come On Gen X - What's Up?

gen x

I am worried about my generation. They didn't want anything and now when they realize, "Hey money is all right!" They are so in debt that they can't get ahead nor can they save for their future.

This article is such an eye opener for me, I am so happy that I made the choice to give up new clothes, that cool car and nice furniture for a few years to pay off my student loans and all my credit card debt. I am also happy that I learned to invest and wait, to not let my current appetite steal from my future feast.

Facts From OppeinheimerFunds

* 62 percent say they live paycheck to paycheck

* 56 percent have an outstanding credit-card balance of $3,000 or more.

* 62 percent of women say they have not bought any investment products.

* 45 percent of women would buy 30 pairs of shoes before saving $30,000 in retirement assets.
* 65 percent of women and 48 percent of men said they do not know how a mutual fund works.
* Nearly 65 percent did not know that when interest rates go up bond prices typically go down.
* 38 percent of women have not started saving for retirement.

"Generation X may have shed the slacker image over the past decade as its members moved beyond coffee shop jobs and into the suburbs, SUVs and corporate boardrooms. But when it comes to saving for retirement, the description still fits.

Most Gen Xers, the oldest of whom are heading into their 40s, are woefully behind in saving for retirement. Nearly half of the 5,000 Gen Xers surveyed by Charles Schwab this year said they are so saddled with debt or live on such tight budgets they can’t even think about saving." Read Full Article Click Here

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Here Comes The 1% Vacancy Rate

According to the CMHC Edmonton's apartment vacancy rate is at 1% with a forecast 0.8% next year. We hold a lot of mid to upper end units and we see a higher vacancy rate. Our units priced from $1600 (half duplexes or townhouses) to $2000 (3 to 5 bedroom houses) are renting but not as quickly as about 5 months ago. The vacancy rate amongst that range of units is closer to 4%.

A lot of houses on the rental market are those that investors couldn't sell in the current plateau. Some new landlords are not aware of the market conditions are are asking too much or too little for their property. However that "just right" is quite hard to find.

So if you are in low to mid range apartments you should have no problem renting if you unit is quality. Mid to higher end units now is the time to use a bit more effective marketing to get the perfect tenants. And remember winter is a harder time to rent.

Edmonton And Calgary Great Investments

Wondering how your area of the country is doing as far as real estate value and investment goes? The leading real estate analysts at PricewaterhouseCooper have released their annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2008 report.

Here is how Calgary and Edmonton fare:

 Canadian Markets to Watch

"The report comments on how Canadians like to live and work in central cities, as long as they can afford it. If housing is too pricey in 24-hour
neighbourhoods, people move to inner-ring suburbs or beyond and commute back into the cores. Investors, especially the institutions, are concentrated in
downtown areas too. Planners and developers focus on infill and more vertical projects, which reinforce the urban cores. The hot-growth energy cities out
west - Calgary and Edmonton - score the highest ratings for investment prospects, development, and for-sale housing, although it is not certain
whether the recent announcements on royalties will have any effect on this. Toronto, Canada's premier global pathway city, and Vancouver also have high
ratings. Ottawa and Montreal follow, with Halifax lagging."


"Calgary is the Canada's "resource" capital and North America's number-one boomtown. Survey respondents foresee strong buys for all sectors: 53.5% give a
buy recommendation for Hotel Property, 52.8% for Industrial/Distribution, 48.1% for Retail and Apartment Residential and 44.6% for Office Property.
Furthermore, on average the majority of respondents see Calgary For-Sale Homebuilding prospects as very good. Edmonton is closely mimicking the
Calgary-style growth wave and as long as demand for energy resources stays strong, this market will continue to do well."
For Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa or Halifax market info read here .

CREA - 3rd Quarter Just Behind Record Second


All though the sales are down in the third quarter of 2007 CREA says not to expect a crash because we are still in line for a record year.

"The Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents boards across the country, says sales in the third quarter were down 3.2% from the second quarter. However, the second quarter was the best quarterly period ever for housing sales.

The third quarter decline was driven by a relatively minor slowdown in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. British Columbia saw a jump in sales in the third quarter.

For the first nine months of the year, there were 419,342 sales across the country, an 8.4% increase from a year earlier. There were 213,547 new listings in the third quarter, the second highest level ever." Read Full Article Click Here

Saturday, November 03, 2007

This And That

Alberta premier urges oil sands firms to negotiate - "I'm sure, at the end of the day, those companies will realize it is in the best interests of their shareholders ... to sit down with the government and look at the two agreements and discuss how we can reach a solution," Ed Stelmach

Alberta launches initiative to attract skilled labour - “We’ll work on the apprenticeship strategy and make sure that people that want to retrain, earn new skills and get opportunities to get engaged in construction get that chance.”

Slim majority favours nuclear power in Alberta - "What we see are a slim majority in favour of building a plant, but there are also 25 per cent who are very unfavourable which is a fairly large group to have strongly opposed to something, and it is larger than the group that is very in favour (20 per cent),"

Alberta tops survey with largest pay increases - "Alberta's labour shortage is creating a "ripple effect" that is driving up wages across the country with pay increases for non-unionized workers expected to average 3.9 per cent in 2008, says a study released yesterday by the Conference Board of Canada."

Alberta will maintain its lead in housing starts per capita across ... - " Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will host their annual Alberta Housing Outlook Conference today at The Westin Hotel. This sold-out event brings together over 400 housing experts, speakers and conference participants to discuss the economic, demographic and financial factors that will impact Alberta's housing markets over the next year."

'Bottlenecks' an issue in Alberta investing - "To date, the biggest constraint for many natural resource producers currently operating in the region has been bottlenecks in labour and investment, rather than profitability," Mr. Tilton wrote in a research note Tuesday. "High and rising oil prices are steadily improving the cash flow from such projects."

Rabid Over Royalty Taxes

Don’t be surprised by the Royalty tax.

It’s short-term pain for long-term gain, by the gain; I’m referring to the extraction and economic spin-off that the oil sands create in general.

The royalty tax is like when you buy your kids the hottest pair of ‘must have’ sneakers and a few months later they outgrow them (both on the cool factor and on the growth factor). You had to buy the shoes, because your kids needed something to wear. It would be great if they last 2 years, but if they don’t maybe you can pass them down to your younger son if they’re not too trashed.
If the $1.4B annual collection from the royalty tax is put to good use, then Albertans will benefit both in the short and long term (we’ll all get new shoes).

If the cash is squandered and we’re only left with some grotty old ‘hand me downs’ to pass along to our younger generation, we’ll be pretty teed but we’re still not too bad off because the revised royalty taxes aren’t extreme enough to strangle the golden goose of our current economy.
The intention is of course to pass along our provincial wealth to younger generations, and to prevent giving them a shoddy deal (stinky, holey sneakers.

It was indeed interesting to watch the stock market swivel and gyrate as the royalty review was released. Prices of oil sands stocks dipped a bit, and then actually closed a quarter of a percentage point higher after the news soaked in. The energy sector as a whole was up 0.17
Oil was at $93.00 a barrel on Monday (10/29) and the Canadian dollar bought $1.04 USD, which is a first since ’74. We may not necessarily want such a strong dollar in the long term, but it’s still nice to see the strength.

My comments are oversimplifying a complex subject. At the end of the day, we’re still ahead and well on track.

Alberta’s energy industry will endure growing pains and wear out many pairs of sneakers along the way, as the economy grows stronger.

It always hurts a bit to break in a new pair of shoes. Blisters form and they’ll be a few cases of athlete’s foot. However once you get everything broken in and settled you are left with a comfortable fit that lasts a lifetime.

Recently we’ve experienced an overstock of listings, sub-prime scare in the U.S. and the royalty review…

What a perfect time to pick up a deal.

This article was first published in Glenn Simon Inc's Alberta Investment Newsletter

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Skeletons In My Closet

What ‘skeletons’ do you have hidden away that may come out to haunt you? Sounds scary doesn’t it? And it could very well be….

I was recently negotiating on a fairly large character conversion/reno project for an associate of mine. He had considerable experience with rezoning and land utilization but not so much with actual conversation and restructure of the buildings. He was so ‘pumped up’ about the potential project that I wondered how much in depth research he had conducted, as there seemed to be some sizable obstacles to overcome before getting the project to the final stage.

I felt an icy hand on my shoulder and heard a deathly whisper in my ear ‘Do the due diligence now, run the costs and speak with your team, get the written quotes…’ What was going on? The voice was just my ‘friendly’ skeleton reminding me of the lessons learned 5 years ago.

See, I had been doing a sizable reno deal where the costs and time frame kept on extending. I had done the usual groundwork, quote gathering and cost analysis for the property, but it still was taking longer and costing more than planned. In the end the deal was completed and all went relatively well, but there had been a few months worth of stress and grey hairs from this seemingly simple deal. What happened next was I spent a period of about 6 months feeling rather reluctant to enter into another reno job.

My skeleton was keeping me out of the market. My repair job didn’t go exactly as planned, but still ended up being profitable, although not nearly as much as I had hoped. What I realized was that I needed a better system and a better team to rely on. I then went out and spoke with several of my colleagues that specialized in these sorts of projects. I then saw how I could ‘bomb proof’ my next deal, maximize my time, money and create more profit- all with fewer grey hairs.

The funny thing is how much my skeleton continues to teach me.

If I had chosen to ignore the initial ‘fear’ I had, I would have been reluctant to go on to other successful projects as I have. That kind of education is priceless and so is the use of a knowledgeable team to consult with.

As the details got clearer, my associate and I learned that this project was not as good as first anticipated, but this is what we did….

“I’ve had other skeletons that have been down right nasty. Skeletons that have tried to wreck my life. Do you have something unresolved, lurking in the back of your mind that keeps hurting you? It could be a financial kind of pain or a personal one.”

We sent in our surveyor to assess the best usage of the land and height restrictions on the Character conversion. We enlisted three separate contactors that we had a history with and asked for a lock in quote including materials (there is a big construction/labour shortage now so you need to get firm numbers.). We then rounded everything up by 12% and extended the project time frame by 6 weeks. We learned that due to inherent foundation flaws the project would cost much more time and money than initially thought. Our solution lay in the ability to scrap the conversion idea and turn the units into commercial storage space, and rent out making a better profit.

My point is that without first trying and failing on some levels I would never have been able to take the chance and learn what I needed to do.

We’ve all been held back by skeletons before. Until we learn from, and destroy them, they will keep dominating us. I’m sure that you’ve met people that are so afraid to make a choice for fear of being wrong or getting ‘burned again’. I cringe to think about all the other ‘little voices’, apprehensions and fears that we let hold us back.

I always try to examine any excuses I may have and check them for validity.

Move forward with knowledge and seize the opportunity.

Haunted Alberta - Spooky Real Estate

Who could resist? I should write about ROI's or the two great new properties we have picked up recently but all work and no play makes people axe murders! With help from two great sites, The Shadowlands and Zuko - Weird And Spooky Places, I was able to compile a few Albertan haunted houses.

From Zuko:

1.Banff Springs Hotel - "One very sad and tragic tale involves a young bride and her elegant wedding party in the hotel's grand ballroom. It seems that on the day of the young woman's wedding, she was descending the ornate marble staircase in her beautiful flowing white wedding gown. And, as the story goes, an unexpected breeze (presumably from an open door or window) twisted the gown's flowing train into her path, causing her to stumble. Attempts by the groom to catch-hold of his young wife were in vain, and she fell to her death on the polished marble tiles below. To this day, there are recurring reports of a fleeting vision of a beautiful girl in a long flowing white dress dancing in the ballroom or descending the staircase. At other times, people have commented on brief but chilling breezes brushing past them on the grand staircase." Read About Sam - The Helpful Dead Doorman

From The Shadowlands

2.Brooks - Community Cultural Centre - "This was an old hospital in the 1940's, and many people died here. There are repeated sightings of an older janitor of the building going from room to room to clean, a young boy with a back pack wandering the halls, and many kids have heard an elderly woman read them stories. Through the use of a Ouija board, staff members have communicated with the young boy, who is 9 years old, and afraid of being there. He often plays with the toys in the daycare in the basement, and has told the staff members that there are a total of 75 ghosts in the building"

3.Calgary - Abbydale SE - "In a blue and white two story house lies a family of four with an incident involving a black figure like blur. Before all this there was a cold chill by the basement cellar. Even though the heat was on the beds where always ice cold and the moaning coming from the cellar sounded like a man with a deep voice. From there on in this sound was like a confession of some sort or a plea to god. Still today the family doesn’t know what the mumbling is trying to say because it is in a foreign language that hasn't been heard before. The sightings of the black blur was seen on a regular daily bases but only to have come so far to a person then suddenly vanish."

4.Calgary - Grace Hospital - "A woman was seen cradling a child in her arms in a delivery room. She would bang pipes and open windows, but wasn't much of a threat to anyone. However, she did make it so that a woman in labor who was placed in that room would have a long and difficult labor, often ending in a caesarean section. The ghost is that of a woman named Maudine Riley. The Riley's owned the land, which the hospital is built on. Maudine Riley died in childbirth in one of the rooms of her house. The room she died in was almost in the exact position where the haunted delivery room is now located. Her child perished with her. It seems that she is afraid of letting women give birth in that room, because she thinks they might suffer her fate. Across the street from the hospital is Riley Park. There's a monument erected there in memory of Maudine and her child."

The Creepiest For Last...

5.Edmonton - La'Boheme Bed and Breakfast - "Old Gibbard Block in northeast Edmonton. Built in 1912. It was an upscale apartment building. Woman employee was murdered and dragged down three flights of stairs to basement where she was dismembered and fed into furnace. The sound of her head bouncing off each stair can be heard at night. The original furnace is still in use."

Loonie At A 33 Year Peak

"Canada's dollar touched the highest since 1974 on surging demand for the nation's commodity exports, with oil reaching an all-time high.

The Canadian currency strengthened as the U.S. dollar fell against 11 of 16 most-actively traded currencies. The Federal Reserve is forecast to cut borrowing costs on Oct. 31 to prevent the world's largest economy from slipping into a recession, which would eliminate the U.S.'s interest-rate advantage over Canada."

Read Full Article

One U.S dollar buys 96.02 Canadian cents. Look out for the snowbirds!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Call Of The West

"The booming Alberta economy has maxed out the labour pool here," "It means employers here have to go somewhere else and with the manufacturing industry in Ontario facing massive layoffs there is an opportunity there." Ray Edwardson Organizer of the Workwest Career Caravan

Alberta's labour shortage has over 30 companies including Greyhound, Lafarge and Century 21 setting up a job fair in Toronto November 3rd and 4th. Police, fire and transit services are also trawling for career minded people to pick up and move west.

Royalties or no increased labour needs mean more people moving out west that will require quality, affordable housing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Royalties- What Changes Are In Store?

Ed Stelmach's proposal includes:


*Introduce price-sensitive formulas before and after capital costs are paid out. The payments will slide between 1 percent and 9 percent of revenues with increases starting at an oil price of $55 a barrel and a cap set at $120 a barrel. Post-payout, royalties will be 25 to 40 percent of net profits.


*Gas royalties will be set on a formula using price and production volume. New royalty rates will range from 5 percent to 50 percent with rate caps at C$17.50 per million British thermal units.

*Royalties for natural gas liquids will be set at 40 percent for pentanes and 30 percent for butanes and propane.


*Royalties will be linked to well production and price with the government's take rising as high as 50 percent. Rates to be capped if the oil price hits $120 per barrel.

Source: Government of Alberta

Read Factbox Uk Reuters Article Here

Royalties - Doom And Gloom or...?

I would be off my game if I didn't at least mention the very important, some would say shocking, announcement Ed Stelmach made announcing that, yes, Alberta will increase oil sands royalties by January 1, 2009.

The increases mean that the money Alberta collects from the energy business could be a staggering 20% higher than the original forecast for 2010, which would equate to a $1.4-billion increase into the province's treasury.

What started it all?

A report by Alberta's provincial panel said royalties had not kept pace with world energy markets, that all projects in the booming oil rich region should be paying more.

"Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development."

"The energy industry has been a phenomenal driver," "It not only affects Alberta ... It's going to set the direction for where this industry goes and where Alberta goes the next five to 10 years." Greg Stringham, vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Alberta has been negatively compared to Venezuela where President Hugo Chavez ran out foreign oil companies first by incredible royalty increases followed by nationalization.

Many oil companies have threatened to stop and or delay future work in Alberta if the panels recommendations were followed to a tee. However, they may have already taken the increase in royalties into account as this is not a new phenomena but something that has been happening in all oil rich countries over the past 5 years.

"Our first reaction to the Alberta government's recent royalty review panel report was that it was authored by a visiting delegation of Venezuelans," Deutsche Bank North America analyst Paul Sankey

However, Ed Stelmach is generally seen as being modest on the panel's recommendations and perhaps he has come to a decision that is both balanced and fair for our province.

Though there may be some layoffs in the oil sands there is still enough boom out there that in a year this will all be forgotten. Only time will tell how much of an impact this will have for the oil companies and exactly what there reaction will be.

"We will adjust to any royalty changes and we can do so with the confidence that we have an array of very good investment opportunities that will allow us to continue adding shareholder value over time," Petro Canada CEO Ron Brenneman

Some Articles of Interest:

A Quagmire in Alberta over Royalties
- Interview with Dr. Brownsey a political science professor at Calgary's Mount Royal College

Alberta increases royalties charged to energy companies
- "We recognize energy is a volatile industry. There is risk and there is reward. So when oil prices go up, the royalty goes up,"Ed Stelmach

Is Alberta out of step with the world? -"You would think from the anguished cries of the oil companies that the Alberta government's decision to increase royalties was a bolt from the blue. Far from it."

What Have You Done?

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Well it also flies when you’re just getting by and that’s why it’s essential that you stop, take inventory and adjust accordingly.

News flash: It’s already November! You have just 2 months ahead before 2008. Forget about the proverbial glass being half empty, make sure it’s overflowing.

Have you ever thought about your own mortality? As hard as it is to get your head around, you may not be here forever, at least not in body.

How we choose to live each day is critical. I have to admit; sometimes I’m dreadful at this. I allow myself to get sucked into a current of work, doing deals and so forth. I must be careful not to neglect my family and friends. Don’t let something all encompassing come into your life, be the wake up call you need to slow down. As cliché as it sounds- stop and smell the roses. Take the time to nurture relationships and maybe even enjoy a few days relaxing in the sun. Preparation and continuous evaluation can help you keep on track. I find creating 90-Day Action steps and monitoring results to be key.

As important as scheduling your days and planning your meetings are, you must remember to schedule in fun time or downtime too. Napoleon Hill used to spend long hours sitting and doing nothing but thinking. Bill Gates takes a trip to the mountains twice a year to compose his thoughts too. Of course I’ve presupposed that you’re busy getting things done and moving ahead. If you’re still not reaching and exceeding your targets then now is a good time to figure out why and correct your course. Keep raising the bar too. It’s easy to get complacent when things are going well. Perhaps now is the time you can look at making a big leap forward and streamlining even further.
One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.

As he stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz" and he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class yelled, "Yes." The time management expert replied, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good." Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked,

"What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!" "No," the speaker replied, that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is; if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all. What are the 'big rocks' in your life, time with loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all.” So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question, "What are the 'big rocks' in my life?" Then, put those in your jar first.

Jungle Lessons

When I was younger I used to live wildly impulsively, within a set course plan. For example… I had an idea to travel to Indonesia and live in the jungle with an untouched, un-jaded ‘tribe’. I did so for six and a half weeks. I spent these days near starving, eating grubs and trying to hunt monkeys with poison darts. I kid you not. I trekked through the wettest jungle in the world to befriend not-so-long ago headhunters. I ran for my life while nearly being gored to death by wild boar…

My hired guides and I trekked through the mud, took dug out canoes up and down the muddy, leech ridden rivers. I remember wading across a deep creek while freezing cold rain pulverized my scalp. I held up my pack, throwing it repeatedly against the slippery clay slope all the while clawing my way along, trying to get a grip. After making it out onto the bank I looked at my body, covered in what appeared to be fat, black welts that were visibly growing into gluttonous banana slugs. Leeches. I would never have had the patience to burn them off. I furiously tore them away with my bare hands…. But, I digress. I was looking for something on my journey.

Some kind of proof that a 20-year-old kid had in his mind about the way things should be, about what I wanted to find. Looking back on that adventure I learned a lot, but at the time I hated it, not because of the sheer torture of it, but because of what I was looking for I didn’t think I found. That was until later, anyways…

I realized (years later) that I DID find something on that trip and it was…

Never continue trekking when you’ve got infected feet! Don’t push the river- it flows by itself; if you’re starving and haven’t eaten for days and someone walks out of the bush and offers you a basket full of mushrooms…Be grateful, but don’t eat them all in one sitting.

Some finer points can be translated and applied to life and real estate:

Don’t climb a 40 foot Rambutan tree if you’ve never even tasted the fruit
; Watch and learn what is going on in your market and what constitutes a ‘sweet deal’. If you don’t know what one looks like, how can you find it?

Leaky canoes; canoes with holes in them don’t float well. Neither will your real estate team if it’s not put together right. You need to continually check and evaluate the performance and results of your group.

Have the right bartering chips; I traded tobacco for passage on my journey. I quickly learned the value of this commodity. Many investors throw away great deals over a little negative cash flow.

Running a $3K loss to make a $50K gain in one year is a good example. A very common and shortsighted mistake that rookies make is failing to understand what to negotiate.

Know what you’re buying
; be it price or terms and how to negotiate it.

Make sure that your guides aren’t a bunch of yahoos! Whether you buy one property or a hundred, you need an exceptional team in place to help guide and protect you along the rocky paths. Make sure that you have a map and a team that knows how to navigate.

Lastly, don’t seek adventure in your real estate! Keep your business as simple and boring as possible. Sure, you can have fun, but get your excitement in elsewhere. The last thing you want is a gut full of pinworms and a few digits missing at your next business meeting.

Todd Millar

Shuck Alberta

Alberta is one big sandy irritant, well at least that’s what Al Gore would have you believe. I’ve been hearing a lot from Mr. Gore recently about the oil sands and their role in contributing to global warming.

First and foremost I think we as Canadians care about the environment and have always taken the steps needed to protect our beautiful country. Secondly, in my opinion the off shoot of the economic world growth, especially in China and India, will ultimately help improve living conditions around the world and over time, better equip us as a global community to deal with climate changes as well as decrease global warming.

Alberta is an irritant, just not the kind Mr. Gore implies.

As a kid I remember going to Hawaii and on every street corner there were Hawaiians selling oysters from big icy barrels. They were something like 3 for $5, maybe more I can’t remember exactly. You had a chance to grab an oyster with a pearl in it. Every tourist bought them. Sure enough, every time, you got at least one with a pearl in it.

How did they do it? It was a surprise, I mean you weren’t guaranteed to find a pearl, but it was pretty likely.

Long ago, pearls were important financial assets, comparable in price to real estate, as thousands of oysters had to be searched for just one pearl. They were rare because they were created only by chance.

Natural pearls form in oysters living in the sea without human intervention. When any irritant or parasite enters inside an oyster or mollusk the process of natural coating begins. However, natural pearls are rarely found nowadays.

On the other hand cultured pearls are formed with human help when a nucleus is implanted inside the oyster. It takes about 2-5 years to form a complete pearl depending upon techniques, where it is grown and other natural conditions. The pearls grow best when in a favorable environment. They need to have: clean, fresh or salt water, correct temperature and years to coat the grit in them to sheen of perfection.

It’s ironic that the pearl is actually an irritant to the oyster that’s trying to expel it, but one that we look upon so favorably. The Alberta Oil Sands may be an irritant to some, but a rare and beautiful jewel to others.

And just like pearls that thrive in the right conditions, your real estate continues to grow and flourish into a fine treasure.

For the time being Al Gore may continue to think the oil sands an irritant to the environment, but it takes time to grow a pearl, just as it does to make changes that will improve the environment and well being of many.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Can't Wait To See This

The Discovery Channel's Worst Handyman 3 is coming to Edmonton!

The huge boom in Edmonton, Alberta has attracted the show because apparently booms and clumsy carpentry go hand in hand.

"With the boom there's lots of properties on the market, lots of movement in the market and lots of ham-fisted DIYs (do-it-yourselfers) messing it up," Canada's Worst Handyman 3 executive producer Guy O'Sullivan.

Edmonton's worst handyman will compete on the Canadian show, they will have a chance to renovate a home in Toronto over a two-week span in January with the person who nominated them for this ignoble award.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Alberta Real Estate Investment - Hot New Deal

Hello Friends and Partners,

I'm sure you know how important it is to buy during the 'slow time'.

And I'm here to prove it to you with this great deal...

Check out the details:

*1956 Built 4 bedroom home, complete with in-law suite AND double detached garage.

*Newly reformed throughout with top-notch touches and design: demands high rent and easy resale.

*Listed at $378,000 and we have an accepted offer for $365,000. ($13K off list price and into your pocket!)
(Next door is listed at $410K and isn't as nice)

*Great mature area of Sherbrooke in West Central Edmonton. Desirable for resale and rapid appreciation (capital gains)

*Highly Rentable area near transportation improvments, access to Oil refineries and Downtown.

The Deal:

*ALL financing FULLY ARRANGED, No need to qualify. You can leverage your money further.

*Total estimated investment required: $84,133.00

*Your Profit is estimated at: 23% annually

*Approximately 23% of PURCHASE price. Now that includes all legal, closing costs and reserve funds.

*Partnership deadline before Friday 11/02/07 (Closing date 11/23/07)

Wondering what to do?

It's simple. I've done all the work. Now all you have to do is pick up the phone and give me a call because this deal will not sit around and wait.

Thank you and have an EXCELLENT weekend.

To your success,

Todd and Danielle Millar-

-Please remember: All investments carry RISK. Be sure to seek your own independent legal advice-


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Inspiration For Investors

Richard Homburg of Homburg Invest Inc. owns 136 investment properties, including residential and office complexes in Alberta and Montreal. He dropped at a school at 12 went to work in a bakery and through the power of his dreams became Canada's Donald Trump.

"I believe you have to have a plan in life, you have to have a dream. You have to be a dreamer, almost, to succeed in where you want to go.

As a kid, I dreamt about what I wanted to do. I dreamt about going to America, I dreamt about going to Australia or Canada, so I had my mind set that that's what I was going to do, and I had my mind set that I was going to be in business, I had my mind set that I was going to be successful. I had my mind set about what car I wanted to drive and all the things I wanted to do.

You follow your dreams."

His latest procurement is the $355 Million 17-storey Montreal Central Station Complex which sports a CN train station at the bottom.

Read The Full Interview