Monday, June 30, 2008

This And That

Real estate meltdown? Not likely - "It's true that a few Canadian cities are showing much smaller price declines - Edmonton down by 4.9 per cent in the past year, Calgary down 2.4 per cent and Windsor down 5.5 per cent - but only in Windsor does this reflect economic distress. In Alberta, the price reversals look more like a hiccup after huge run ups.

So is Porter really suggesting that Canada's housing market is about to follow that of the U.S. down the drain? Apparently not, despite the provocative words. "No, we don't think we're headed for a U.S-style bust, said a colleague at BMO Capital Markets, senior economist Sal Guatieri."

Alberta's business owners optimistic - "Despite worrisome economic signs in the United States and Central Canada, optimism among Alberta businesses is rising, suggests a new provincial survey.

The business sentiments index, released Thursday by ATB Financial and the Western Centre for Economic Research, asked 403 companies across Alberta to gauge their opinion for the third quarter of 2008."

Alberta posts highest earnings growth - "Albertans continue to earn more than other Canadians, according to figures released Friday by Statistics Canada.

April figures show average weekly earnings for Albertans were $873.25, including overtime.

That's up six per cent from the same month last year -- the fastest growth in Canada."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good Points If You Are A Seller

First of all if you are trying to sell in Edmonton better make the deal pretty sweet because about 11,000 other properties are on the market looking for a new owner. To be frank I wouldn't sell now unless I had a pretty good reason.

If you are an investor then why not ride out the dip and wait for the low unemployment, high provincial in-migration and stupendous economy to see you right?

For those of you who are just trying to sell your home then this advice is quite useful:

"What about the seller? Should he despair? Not at all! Firstly, if, as is frequently the case, the seller is planning to buy a replacement home immediately upon selling, the difference that he can expect to pay remains relatively constant, regardless of the market condition. That is the precise reason to at least be in the market, and not on the sidelines.

To achieve a best-value sale in today’s market, the seller must face a number of realities that may not have been as critical to a successful sale over the past few years.

Realistic pricing tops the list. With much greater competition for fewer buyers, pricing even one or two per cent over market may dramatically reduce the chances of an offer. Testing the market with a higher price is not a great idea." Peter Dolezal

Read More Click Here

Population Growth = Growing Market

graph courtesy of StatsCan

Alberta again led the country in population growth in the first three months of 2008. The province now weighs in at 3.5 million. Although there was a small exodus from Alberta in 2007 the net in-migration is still the highest in Canada.

"Alberta's population rose by 0.41 per cent over the January to March period to reach an estimated 3,512,400, mainly as a result of strong immigration and net inflows of non-permanent residents," Statistics Canada

Simple math tells me that more people means a continued demand for housing, whether it be rentals or purchases. If anything the buyer's market that the two major cities find themselves in now will attract people to the area as a bonus to great jobs at national high wages.

I've heard of people picking up properties for the legal cost out in Edmonton. Of course deals like that are hard to find but with a little motivation and a list of properties that aren't selling it shouldn't be too hard. If you are moving out west with a great job waiting for you who wouldn't pick up a home rather than renting?

This Sounds Useful

Two U of A graduate's real estate trending software may help in your buying decision.

"The entrepreneurs unveiled Wednesday the latest version of their Internet-based real estate program, RealPageMaker 3, that gives prospective buyers a bird's-eye view of listings plotted on a Google map of a city block or neighbourhood. The program will be available for Calgary and Vancouver.

The software also pulls a snapshot of real estate trends for that block or neighbourhood using real-time statistics."


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alberta Wealth Sets Prices In Okanagan

When Albertans are looking for a recreational property they often go to British Columbia. The province's overflow of wealth has increased prices in the Okanagan area so much that until now there was multiple offers and double digit increases on recreational properties. Now that Alberta is cooling down so is this area.

"Alberta buyers are a very important part of our market, and not just southern Alberta, but northern Alberta as well," Rob Shaw, Vernon Realtor and director of Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB)

What that means is the beautiful Okanagan valley is also leveling out and becoming a buyer's market. Alberta's stellar economy is effecting the real estate market across Canada - from B.C to the east coast. People who have made their wealth in Alberta go back to their home province and buy their dream house.

Most importantly is to know when to buy where. Alberta is in a slow cycle and has leveled to a buyer's market, giving investors the opportunity to pick and choose their terms on an incredible selection of properties. When your Alberta property increases in value over the next 3 years, you can buy your dream house from the proceeds.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fort McMurray Price Rocket Continues

If you want to get into hot sustainable market then Fort McMurray is your bet - just be prepared to pay for it. This little town on the edge of the world's largest known oil deposit has seen that proximity cause housing prices to rise and rise and rise. House prices rose from $518,934 last year to an incredible $$692,127 in May.

"Oil prices are at record levels," adding that a number of oilsands mines are being built in the region, requiring a large influx of workers to migrate to the area. "It's going to keep investments in that region at a high level and if that's going on, the market will do well."Richard Cho of Canada Mortgage and

If the Fort McMurray is too rich for you look to Edmonton the hub between the oilsands and oil distribution.

Read More

5 Tips Learning A Language vs. Purchasing Investment Real Estate

Living in a country where English is not the first language enforces a learning curve that you don`t get when you can communicate in your native tongue. When I came to Japan 6 years ago my Japanese extended to Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto courtesy of STYX's hit in the 80`s. I had to assimilate to live. Now that I can speak Japanese I look back on those days cringing at what passed for "speaking Japanese".

The same holds true for investing in Real Estate. I started investing 5 years ago, I read all the books, joined Cashflow circles and ventured boldly ready to make "deals". With all the information and opportunity available on the web it seemed mere months until I held my dream portfolio.

Boiling down my experiences to the purest essence. I have come up with 5 tips for Learning Another Language and corresponding tips for Purchasing Investment Real Estate. They surprisingly overlap!

5 Tips For Learning Another Language vs. 5 Tips for Purchasing Investment Real Estate

1. Never ever repeat words until you know the meaning - I once had a catchy tune that a few little boys were singing stuck in my head. They roared with joy when I repeated the song and sang along with them for the remainder of our time together. For the next few days I would alternately hum and sing the easily pronounced words feeling quite pleased that I had picked up the language. It wasn't until days later a concerned co-worker actually explained the meaning of the dirty ditty did I learn this valuable lesson.


1. Do your own homework - It doesn't matter if the property you are looking at is in a great area and really cheap. You are responsible for your financial future. You must never take anything at face value. My mentor Don Campbell always says "What's behind the Curtain?" Research your property, the area where you are, go there at different times of the day. Research other houses on the block or in the area, How much did they sell for? Ask impartial realtors, lawyers and people in the know for their input then sift the results. In the end only you will be paying for your real estate negligence or reap the benefits of your diligence.

2. Mimic the language of people around you- A direct contradiction to my first tip! However you can be sure that if I had emulated my successful 60 year old business lady friend I would have been singing a different tune. In Japan especially, age and sex are very important in determining the type of speech you use. If you hang around 50 year old business men your Japanese will reflect that. So choose with care whose speech you emulate.


2. Mimic successful people around you - Research the people in your area who are doing what you want to do. Find the multi-plex buyer and take him to lunch that meal could make you a millionaire or at least help you on your next deal. The best way to succeed at anything is to copy the people who are already successful at it. Most people who are successful want to give back and help people who are starting out.

3. Supplement a formal education- You CAN learn new languages by yourself. In fact I spent my first two years in Japan watching Japanese T.V. with a dictionary and notebook so that I could learn the colloquial Japanese. Speak what the real people speak. It paid off I have excellent listening comprehension and can converse readily on many t.v. celebrities and programs- a useful ice breaker. However, my spoken Japanese didn't really take off until I attended a formal language school. The teachers guided me around pitfalls and I could practice with people that spoke that language rather than talking to my T.V.


3. Join an investment group and take seminars - Sure it costs money, sure there are scams out there. Some gurus only hold seminars to sell their products or courses. That is a chance you have to take but when you find the right group you will be connected to a wealth of experience, information and like minded people. I am a member of REIN- Real Estate Investing Network in Alberta. That allegiance has propelled my business like nitro in those cars in the Triple X movie series. My sphere of influence now includes best selling authors, people who hold millions of dollars in real estate and some of the best tax specialists, lawyers and Realtors in Canadian Real Estate. I have avoided some mistakes because someone in my group already made them and that resource was readily available to me.

4. Making mistakes makes you a better speaker - This only works if someone corrects you! If you don' t say anything then your speaking ability won't improve at all. In my first baby steps in learning the language I know I said some pretty far out things. Times when I wanted to say "This meal is delicious!" I came out with " I am delicious" or my favorite pointing to a little girl and saying "scary" when I meant to say "cute" actually it could have gone either way with that one. It happens but luckily I had friends who took me aside and pointed out the grammatical, pronunciation or syntax errors of my ways. Now I only say "I am delicious" when I want to.


4. Making mistakes makes you a better investor - You cannot learn until you make a mistake. Granted you can have a mentor who helps you and guides you around the mines of investing. What you are getting there is the benefit of him or her making mistakes in the past. Babies don't walk without falling, bicycles aren't mastered without scraped knees and investors aren't made without those "Holy #&("! " deals. Be thankful for them. They are what separate the Trumps from the chumps.

5. Speak Speak Speak- Just do it. Talk to the grocer, the mailman, the neighbour and anyone who will humour you. It is learning by action. Immerse yourself in your new language. I listen to the NHK National Japanese Radio whenever my iPod's batteries die while I am driving. I watch Japanese T.V. and study in my free moments. And you know what? Sometimes I can speak Japanese pretty darn well.


5. Just do it- Don't be a perpetual student. Go out there and invest. If you don't have the finances just look at properties on the MLS. It is free and you can quickly get a feel of the market and what is available. Using a city map you can compare market values for properties in the same neighbourhood, street or complex. If funds are low then partner with friends or other people who want to invest in the same area. You can always Joint Venture with a professional so that your first deal isn't so daunting.

With time you will be surprised at how far you have progressed in becoming a polyglot or an investor.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alberta In For Record Surplus

While Alberta only estimated for $1.6 Billion surplus this year it looks like high gas prices will bump that sum up another $10 Billion. Not exactly loose change you find in the couch.

One third of the funds will be alloted to savings while the other two thirds are to build and maintain capital projects. The main worry is that windfalls like these will be used up and when Alberta's non-renewable resources , oil-sands and natural gas, are depleted the big windfalls of the boom years will be only a distant memory.

To plan for future generations the province set up a provincially appointed Financial Investment and Planning Advisory Commission whose recommendations to the government on how it should invest petroleum riches for the future include long term savings plans.

"Make sure the money that is coming in at this time isn't just viewed as something that's good for the current generation..." Financial Investment and Planning Advisory Commission chairman Jack Mintz

Friday, June 13, 2008

Before You Buy With Your Brother

When I hear people say that buying investment real estate is dangerous or risky it makes me wonder what could have happened to make them feel that way. Sometimes its a sour deal or bad tenants but more often than not it's who they bought the property with.

It's easier to buy a house if you split the down payment with a family member or friend but it's also a great way to ruin a perfectly good relationship. So how do you avoid the troubles that may come in purchasing together?

Excellent legal advice, a clear strategy and a clear separation between the private a business relationship is crucial.

"The most important thing is to do your planning," "A house is something that has an emotional tie to it, yet people want to go out and do things very quickly, especially if a real estate market is booming, and if you dawdle along you're not going to get that house you're after."

"What if one of them dies; what if one of them gets married; what if one of them takes a job transfer and moves out of province? You have to set out in advance what those what-ifs could be and try to document them into a co-ownership agreement. It could be a simple thing like who pays for some of the expenses." Investors Group financial planner Murray Pituley of Regina

IF you shudder at the idea of making a legal document with your brother, mother or friend then imagine what will happen when everything unravels and nobody has a clear idea of what should be happening

Alberta - Key To Diversification Is Technology

Alberta's economy is more diversified than it has every been however a large part of the booming economy is based on the oil sands. Depending too closely on harvesting and shipping resources could cause Alberta to miss other opportunities to sustain the province's incredible wealth.

The government of Alberta has launched a $178 million dollar strategy to help the province commercialize it's technological expertise built up through development of its oil and gas resources

"The Alberta government is serious about a future that is diversified, in order to create long-term prosperity in the province,.....It's important to build on our strengths in the resource sector, but technology is the key that can reach into every area of our economy." Premier Ed Stelmach

It's a great way to avoid relying on a non- renewable resource, no matter how many years of proven supply you have left.

Learn more about the strategy and to read the newsletter from the Alberta Council Of Technologies Click Here

Sunday, June 08, 2008

This And That

Alberta Needs To Increase Presence Globally - "An Alberta government committee is recommending the province sell itself on a grander scale around the globe -- beyond its 10 current international offices -- by opening several new bureaus on four different continents."

Alberta currently has offices in Munich, London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Washington and Tokyo. It's incredible to imagine a province with so much to offer that it has 10 international offices promoting it.

Alberta Bitumen to reach 2 Billion Barrels by 2017 -"A new report by the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) reports that Alberta’s annual production of bitumen (oil sands) is forecast to increase to more than one billion barrels by 2017, more than two and a half times the amount produced in 2007."

All the oil sands require is a steady labour force and a labour force requires quality rental or single family properties. Real estate is a basic necessity that must be provided.

Alberta's Oil Called Dirty - "..Canadian officials said it doesn't really matter who wins the election; Alberta oil will continue to remain an important source of supply south of the border. Canada regularly alternates between Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Mexico as the No. 1 exporter to the world's largest oil consumer."

Canada is one of the few countries who joined the Kyoto Accord, remains one of the lowest producers of greenhouse emissions and Alberta is constantly improving it's environmental impact. However we have become a "hot environmental topic" for one of the biggest polluters in the world.

Alberta's Unemployment Rate Up But Still The Lowest - "Alberta's unemployment numbers nudged up slightly to 3.6 per cent in May, but the province still leads the nation with the lowest rate."

Calgary has the lowest unemployment rate and Edmonton has the fourth lowest in Canada.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Three Years To Belize

As REIN members one of the best parts of belonging to a group of highly focused investors is that you constantly hear success stories that fuel you to reach your goals.

One story that has really inspired me can be found on the ONE LIFE blog spot. After three years of hard work and laser beam focus to their end results, this Canadian family was able to follow their dream of seven months sailing around the Caribbean and Bahamas.

The best part is all the wonderful things they do; from touring a nutmeg factory to scuba diving to burying a treasure chest to be unearthed in 20 years. Their journey seems like the perfect way to bring a family closer and really and truly spending quality time together.

It's a must read and so interesting you'll want to be booking a flight as soon as you leave the blog.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

For Canadian Stagers


"How does a home that has been on the real-estate market for months suddenly sell for $100,000 over the asking price? The answer, according to a new HGTV series, is home staging, the art of neutralizing a home with upscale furniture and art to create a showroom perfect space. The Stagers exposes the high-pressure world of home staging, going behind the scenes at DEKORA, a leading Canadian home staging company.

The Stagers airs Tuesdays at 11 p.m. beginning July 1 on HGTV Canada."

I'll be sure to watch this because no sane seller would say no to $100k over the asking price.

2-For-1 Houses In San Diego

I found this interesting article on Reuters about a savvy developer who is offering "Buy One Get One Free" on row houses in the San Diego area. With the purchase of a $1.6 M luxury home in the upscale city of Escondido in northern San Diego County, you can get a $400k row house for free! Great marketing and a gutsy way to improve your sales figures.

The townhouse aren't too shabby either- with four bedrooms, four baths, six car garages and swimming pools they aren't exactly sheds.

"We are targeting a niche market of investors who are interested in the opportunity to buy a new home for themselves and get a free rental property or second home for family members," developer Michael Crews

Read More Click Here

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

When The Going Gets Tough

It's time to pick up a good (audio)book and get a dose of motivation. Sometimes if you have big goals there are moments when you really wonder if you will ever reach them, no matter how positive you are. My silver bullet at these times is my account.

Although I may not have time in my day to sit back and read a book, anytime I'm in my car I turn the drive into a seminar for motivation, sales tactics, marketing and business ideas.

Some great books I have heard recently (links open into Audible info pages):

How to Become a Rainmaker (Unabridged) Jeffrey J. Fox
Freakonomics (Unabridged) Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
It's Not About the Bike Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins
The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell
Small Is the New Big Seth Godin
Made to Stick Chip and Dan Heath
Take Command Kelly Perdew

Sunday, June 01, 2008

This And That May 2008

Tax hikes on the way for 2009, Edmonton council warns - As property tax bills land in mailboxes throughout Edmonton, city council is already warning that next year's bills will be at least nine per cent higher.

A city report released Wednesday estimates municipal taxes will need to be raised by at least 9.4 per cent to help cover the costs of running the booming city.

Wal-Mart doubling Alberta supercentres-"Alberta is a wonderful part of the country . . . and it's a wonderful place to do business," "It's always been one of our strongest markets." "your economy has been booming for a long time and with that strong economy it means even more growth and more demand for general merchandise and food." Andrew Pelletier, vice-president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Canada "This mean more jobs for Albertans"

Alberta Avenue gets a facelift - Alberta Avenue, the 27-block stretch of 118th Avenue north of downtown, is getting a facelift. Crews are beginning work on "streetscaping" five blocks of the avenue, putting in new road surfaces, new and wider sidewalks, new trees and better lighting. "Prices are sure to rise in this area as the gentrification starts"

Alberta can handle oil-price drop: economist - Companies are investing very prudently right now and can still make good money at $70 a barrel," said Peter Hall, economics vice-president of Export Development Canada. "So they are making great money at $124 a barrel."