Friday, March 21, 2008

"Is the Alberta Boom set to Bust?"

Good question if you think in a Boom and Bust mentality...

This is a reply to "Is Edmonton Real Estate Too Hot?"

In reality what you have happening in the province of Alberta, specifically Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer cities is a healthy slow down in the market. It's not a Boom and Bust. It's not a 'Too Hot', in fact it has slowed enough to become a buyer's market- opening up the market for the first time in the past 2 years.

When a market is firing on all cylinders it has growth stages and moderating stages where it absorbs the outflow of energy produced. It's a self-regulating safety valve so that the economy doesn't get overheated.

As a sophisticated investor you don't want to target a market that is doing double digits year after year... you want to target a market that has a diverse, multi-tiered economy that is set to grow year after year.

Too many novice investors (read: Speculators) chase the percentages. They look for the next 'Big Town' that is going to BOOM. When in reality, seasoned investors look for a growth market where real estate appreciation is between 6% and 8% per year, sustainable. When your market goes above your targeted 6% to 8%, it's gravy- a nice bonus.

My job as an investor is to study the Edmonton market and the province of Alberta's economic fundamentals. When the economy can't support the growth, then you begin to research other areas or property types that will support that growth.

In a nutshell, the economy remains diverse in Edmonton and will prove to be a very stable place to invest for the next 5 years. Of course as the market shifts you may need to adjust your target property type and check to make sure that it still makes sense. For example, if single family homes are no longer priced in your target range of affordability, look at Town Houses or Condos, which still remain quite affordable.

Too often in the media, regional areas and investments get painted with one big brush. On one hand that may be good, because it shakes out the inexperienced and continues to regulate the market. Look at year over year averages and check the fundamentals to decide what is a 'Boom or a Bust'.

Here are a few quick facts below:

Alberta's unemployment rate is the lowest in Canada at 3.20% . An incredibly healthy employment percent is 3% (11/07 to 2/08 Stats Canada)

Alberta's GDP: $290 Billion- yes, Billion. In a province of 3.4 Million people.

If you still think Alberta's economy is on the slide, then read the RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Report released February 2008:

"Alberta's economy remains the 800-pound guerilla of Western Canada. At some $290 billion, Alberta's GDP -- gross domestic product -- is almost 15 per cent larger than that of B.C. and Saskatchewan combined.

So when housing starts in Saskatchewan's two major cities soar by 60 per cent -- as they did in 2007 -- it's from a tiny base. Even with a slowdown, Alberta's housing starts will top those in Saskatchewan by six or seven to one in 2008.

Indeed, although home builders in Edmonton plan to curtail new construction in the first half of 2008, some are already worrying that they won't be able to meet new demand by this fall, when inventories are likely to be depleted. In short, rumours of Alberta's economic demise are greatly exaggerated."

Although Alberta's housing affordability has increased the past few years, so have the wages. Alberta leads Canada in job growth and average median salaries are the highest in Canada at $854.28 (with the exception of hardship posts in the Yukon and NWT)

Despite the high Canadian dollar and manufacturing/export slowdown related to the slow in the U.S. market as well as cyclical slowdown, the GDP is still up 0.02% Alberta's GDP far outpaces nearly all Canadian provinces and has been pacing slightly behind China's growth. Although it will slower this year- which is what healthy markets do, enabling them to continue moving forward at a sustained pace.

"Looking forward, although Alberta’s outlook for growth has eased, given the large number of major projects that are still underway, the province is still likely to outperform the rest of the country for the next several years. CanaData is forecasting the province’s real (inflation-adjusted) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to be 4.4% in 2007 and 3.7% in 2008."

Economic Indicators - GDP Alberta vs. Canada

Is Alberta diverse? Yes. It's not just Oil and Gas- although they make up a fair percentage of the current growth. In fact investment dollars into the Oil Sands were LESS than other areas of investment. Read the Report Here:

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