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.