Investing in Lethbridge

Having just made the last Top 10 Listing in 2006, Lethbridge continues to impress in 2008. The region’s economics have shifted strongly in Lethbridge’s favour along with a stronger and more aggressive Economic Development plan.
Canadian Business Magazine (Froats & McGugan, 2008) has placed Lethbridge in the top 50 of Canada’s Best Places to Live, based on 16 indicators, including weather and air quality; prosperity (including average household income and discretionary income); affordable housing as well as lifestyle (crime rates, population growth and volume of health care professionals). Lethbridge was ranked 48 out of 154 communities in Canada.

Population & Income
The 2008 Lethbridge census results show that the population of the City of Lethbridge was 83,960, up from 78,713 in 2006 and increased 2.78% from 2007. This is an addition of 5,247 new residents in just two years, a dramatic increase of 6.6%. This growth trend has been constant and strong as the population has grown by over 35% since 1997 (City of Lethbridge, 2008).
The largest percentage of the population is 20-24 years (12.8%), which is far higher than the national average. Just over 14% of Lethbridge’s population is over 65 years, which too, is far higher than the Canadian average. So, although it was once known as only a ‘retirement town’, Lethbridge has shed this image and become a wonderful place to raise young families.

Housing Trends
Strong economic and demographic factors coupled with a lack of quality listings in the resale market will maintain new home activity at high levels. High employment rates and a higher cost of home ownership will continue to result in an increase in need for rental property, providing investors and homeowners alike a more balanced market than in many regions of the province.
After a torrid 2007, a degree of sanity is expected to return to the market in 2008 in both housing starts and sales of existing homes. As of April 2008, there were 670 dwellings under construction (City of Lethbridge, 2008). As the university and college grow, there will be an increased demand for student rental housing. There is also a push from Calgary and Edmonton from people looking for a slower pace of life and finding it in Lethbridge.

For more information about Lethbridge Real Estate, please visit my primary web site www.TeamMiller.ca or call me at 403-320-6411.

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Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 6:54 pm  Comments (1)  

Terrific Home in Prestigious Riverstone

I have never used my blog to feature a home before, but this one is a honey, and well priced for Riverstone.

A quick run-down of the features of this new listing are:

Immaculate energy efficient Riverstone Bungalow. Fully developed with Bright open floor plan, tiled foyer, cathedral ceilings, spacious living room, large kitchen, rear deck, 4 spacious bedrooms, master has walk-in closet and stunning 5 piece ensuite, family room, central air, double attached garage, lane access, room for RV parking.

Additional details and a virtual tour are available at the following page of my primary web site:
www.TeamMiller.ca/234/index.htm. Call Allan at 403 320-6411 to view today! MLS. $349,900.

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

5-8% Price Increases in 2008

Stan Mills, President of the Lethbridge and District Association of Realtors, recently made the following statement in the Real Estate Insight magazine:

“The sales statistics for the end of February indicates that sales are meeting and exceeding the numbers for this time last year, just as we are gearing up for a busy construction season and indicators show that the average sale price will continue to increase by 5 to 8% this year”.

Projections are never absolute, but Stan is a long standing broker in Lethbridge, and a respected real estate instructor at the Lethbridge College. I feel that 5 to 8% is realistic.

The recent sale of over 700 apartments in Lethbridge, is already causing controversy. They were bought by an Ontario company, and about 150 are to be sold as private dwellings. It goes without saying that an already tight rental market will be severely affected, especially as Lethbridge University continues to grow.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate, or would like to search Lethbridge MLS homes for sale, please view www.TeamMiller.ca, or contact Allan Miller of Sutton Group Lethbridge at (403) 329 0479.

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

IS LETHBRIDGE REAL ESTATE RISKY?

As an individual in his middle years, I have to confess to a somewhat dubious history of investment. My occasional dabbling in the stock market achieved results varying from mediocre to miserable. Undoubtedly, there are people who have had considerable success with stocks, but invariably they admit it takes time and dedication to stay current with market trends.

Looking for capital growth from bank accounts is only for the ultra-conservative. Rates are so low, you often feel like the proverbial tortoise in a race against the hare of inflation, and the hare is winning!

I have had some success though. Looking back, my first big capital gain came from the sale of a home I bought when I got married. A few years later this was followed by another healthy profit from my second house. Then, some years later, I again picked up another lump sum from my third house. Now I think you know where I’m going with this, so let’s talk some more about investing in real estate. After all, it seems to work for most of us… or does it?

Nearly 20 years ago I was living in Vancouver. During a conversation with the manager of the company I worked for, he stated bluntly that he would never again purchase real estate. He had lost money on a home he sold during the 1980s and was as negative about purchasing property as it was possible to be. Looking back, I sometimes think it would be interesting to visit with that individual again and get his thoughts about the following 20 years of soaring Vancouver house prices.

Certainly, as with any commodity, real estate prices can go down, but historically, it has been proven that prices usually double every 10 years. My parents bought the UK house I grew up in for a little over $6000; today that house would be worth over $600,000. So I think we can all agree on one thing – real estate appreciates and is a good solid investment in the long term.

When my clients ask if it’s the right time to buy, I tell them it is always the right time to buy, especially if you are buying your primary home. The more important question is when to sell. If we are talking about the home you live in, the issue is largely out of your hands. You will sell when you get a job transfer, need more space, or want to downsize. The prevailing market conditions are important only when you are trying to move up the ladder. Presumably, you will then want a more expensive home, so in an appreciating market, it makes good sense to move before the gap widens between your existing property and your dream home. The situation is a little different for those investing in real estate solely for a profit.

FIX AND FLIPS
If you have an aversion to risk, then you won’t get far in life, at least financially. It doesn’t matter whether your first entrepreneurial venture involves starting a humble hot dog stand, or a high flying international airline, there is no guarantee of success. In fact it is common knowledge that four out of every five new business ventures fail within a couple of years. However, with real estate investing, there is no logical reason why you should fail at all. Most people want a quick flip and there is nothing wrong with that. But if the market softens, you may have to wait longer before finding a buyer. Your profit may be reduced, but ultimately, all houses sell.

The worst case scenario is that the obtainable selling price does not exceed the purchase price. What to do? Well, in this case you have the option of Plan B. You change hats, and become a landlord for a year or two. People have to live somewhere, and if they are not buying houses, they have to rent, which in turn creates a reduction in rental property and pushes up rental prices. You may well find yourself with a nice little profit over and above your mortgage costs.

Time will bring the market back, along with the value of your investment, as it always does. It is just a matter of patience. This can not always be said when playing the markets. That red hot mining stock you bought could fizzle and die, along with your money, but your real estate will always be there. It is a tangible asset and for most of us, the best investment we will ever make.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate, or would like to search Lethbridge MLS homes for sale, please view www.TeamMiller.ca, or contact Allan Miller of Sutton Group Lethbridge at (403) 329 0479.

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Calgary Approaches $500,000

The average sale price of a single-family home in Calgary will flirt with the half-million dollar
mark this year, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board. In its 2008 forecast Wednesday, real estate board president Ed Jensen said the MLS average will increase by five per cent this year to $495,800 while condominium prices will rise by six per cent to an average of $335,300.

Total sales will dip by five per cent for both the condo and single-family markets, to 7,700 and 17,500 respectively, compared with 2007. “Two thousand and eight will be a good year and a year of opportunity for serious buyers and sellers,” said Jensen. “Seeing a solid Alberta economy, strong employment, predictions of movements to past levels of net migration, I see the Calgary market moving closer to normal market conditions — as normal as Calgary can be.”

According to the real estate board, single-family homes in the city averaged $472,230 in 2007, up 17.94 per cent from $400,398 in 2006. The average sale price of a condo was $316,370, an increase of 19.98 per cent from $263,684 in 2006. Single-family sales in 2007 were 18,438, down 3.5 per cent from the 19,113 recorded in 2006, while condo sales dropped by 1.9 per cent to 8,236 units compared with 8,396 the previous year.

Lai Sing Louie, senior market analyst in Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said the organization’s forecast for 2008 is similar to the real estate board’s. “We’re looking at about 5.5 per cent moderation in MLS sales and our price growth is in the same ballpark. We’re looking around the 3.5 to five per cent level, too,” said Louie. “There is a lot of supply out there. Going into the last part of the year we saw demand ease off. Some of that was because of the higher prices, but also there is a lower level of net migration that we’re seeing coming to Alberta.”

Several different real estate reports in the latter part of 2007 predicted average price growth in Calgary ranging from zero to 12 per cent. Jensen said the resale real estate market in 2007 came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. In the past six years, the city has experienced one of the hottest real estate markets on record. But in that atmosphere speculators and flippers have also come into the market and impacted its direction. “A portion of the real estate market has always had an investor component where most adhere to an invest-and-hold program,” said Jensen. “This type of investor is great for the marketplace, but investor flippers don’t care about the community and can create an artificial demand, which contributes to an artificial price increase situation.”

The Calgary market overheated in the past couple of years, setting records in nearly all areas and straining affordability, he said. But a change happened in the past few months. The city moved from a seller’s market, where the sellers could name their price, to a buyer’s market where there is a better supply of homes giving buyers better choice. “We’re just coming off two record years,” said Jensen. “Obviously, there’s lots of speculation with a lot of outside investors coming to the economy and I believe that artificially created new listing environments.”

The real estate board forecast for acreages and recreational properties indicates listings and sales will both decline by five per cent in 2008. The average sale price for rural properties will jump by five per cent to $875,600. For surrounding towns, sale prices will rise by five per cent to an average of $396,000.
Source Calgary Herald.

For more information about Lethbridge and Southern Alberta Real Estate, please view my primary web site at www.TeamMiller.ca

Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 12:23 am  Comments (1)  

Canadian Real Estate future is Solid

The Canadian housing market in 2007 set a number of MLS® sales records, and the re-sale housing market is expected to remain at near record sales levels in 2008, according to The Canadian Real Estate Association.

Annual residential MLS® sales activity totaled 520,747 units in 2007, up 7.6 per cent from 2006 levels. This was the largest annual sales growth since 2002, and the first time transactions via the MLS® systems of real estate boards in Canada have surpassed 500,000 units sold in one year. “The results in 2007 show the strength and the affordability of the Canadian residential market,” says CREA President Ann Bosley. “The statistics again show just how different the housing markets are in Canada and the United States.

Canadian REALTORS® know that Canadian mortgage lenders correctly see that home prices will continue rising. We know there is still strong competition for mortgage business in Canada.”

Three key economic ingredients will keep Canada’s housing market on a different track from the United States. One is consumer confidence, the second is employment, and third is affordable interest rates. The Bank of Canada cut interest rates on January 22nd because of weaker prospects for Canadian economic growth in 2008. “Those lower interest rates will also help temper the erosion in housing affordability due to additional home price increases,” Bosley added. The Bank of Canada is expected to cut its trend-setting rate again in March.

CREA’s Chief Economist Gregory Klump says that the Canadian housing market in 2008 will pull back from the breakneck pace set in 2007, but this is still forecast to be the second-busiest year on record in almost all provinces, with residential unit sales reaching an estimated 512,705 units. Average prices for MLS® home sales are expected to keep setting records in 2008, although prices will increase more slowly as the market becomes more balanced. In most provinces, the market will nevertheless remain historically tight – with the tightest markets being in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Nationwide, the average residential price is forecast to increase 5.5 per cent to about $322,700.

According to CREA’s Chief Economist, a larger supply of listings will be one of the balancing influences in 2008. New listings are forecast to rise in all provinces except Alberta, where they’re expected to retreat after spiking in late 2007. “The challenge for the Canadian housing market will be the extent to which employment and consumer confidence may be affected by a slowdown in the U.S. economy,” Ann Bosley adds.

“Slower job growth, not massive layoffs, are forecast for Canada in 2008,” CREA’s Chief Economist Gregory Klump adds. “Consumer confidence may be sideswiped by stock market volatility, and reports that chances of a U.S. economic recession will put the brakes on the Canadian economy. With slower job growth, a low unemployment rate and the absence of widespread layoffs, consumer confidence will bounce back. The domestic economy and the housing market will weather the sub-prime fallout with the help of lower interest rates”.

For more information about Lethbridge Real Estate, please call me at (403) 320 6411 or view my web site at www.TeamMiller.ca

Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 4:59 pm  Comments (1)  

Stats for November

The following are average list prices, average selling prices, and percentage of sale to list price at Sutton Group Lethbridge. Other brokerages results may vary.

November 2007
Average List: $279,226 Average Sale Price: $271,824
Sale to List Price %: 97%

October 2007
Average List: $264,618 Average Sale Price: $258,702
Sale to List Price %: 98%

September 2007
Average List: $267,314 Average Sale Price: $262,488
Sale to List Price %: 98%

To put these figures into perspective, it may be helpful to view the figures for the previous January.

January 2007
Average List: $210,859 Average Sale Price: $206,390
Sale to List Price %: 98%

While the increase each month is never consistent, it is fair to say that over the course of the 2007, most prices in Lethbridge have risen by at least 30%. Some properties, dependent upon their location and condition, have exceeded this considerably.

For more information about Lethbridge Real Estate, please call me at (403) 320 6411, or visit my primary web site: www.TeamMiller.ca

Published in: on December 11, 2007 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lethbridge Housing Summary.

After another astonishing year with an average 30% increase in Lethbridge real estate prices, the question is what will happen in 2008? Right now, we are hearing projections of 10-15% increases, but let’s look closer at the situation.

Inventory is the main driving force behind property price increases. Our typical inventory would be in the region of 500 homes. Last May this shrank to only 100. Not surprisingly, bidding wars broke out and prices soared. Today, we have about 450 homes listed and a degree of sanity is returning to the market. September actually saw a small drop in average prices, as some owners needing to sell quickly, lowered their prices. However, October saw a general upturn in sales. Of course, fall and winter are typically slow months and hardly indicative of the market in general.

Perhaps we should first look at the state of Alberta’s economy. The fact is, all the fundamentals for a healthy real estate market are still in place. Including historically low interest rates; a steady inflow of people and capital; a strong job market and a booming oil patch.

Alberta is ideally placed in the energy sector. In a world of diminishing oil reserves, we have abundance. Add to that our suitability for wind generated electricity and a proposed new nuclear power plant at Peace River and it seems we are in good shape. Oil royalties are to be increased, but would an oil company making $2.5 billion, really pull out because their profit was reduced to a mere $2 billion?

Alberta tops all other provinces when it comes to population growth. In the latest Statistics Canada data, Alberta’s growth was three times the national average. Calgary’s development is now greater than Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa combined. Surprisingly, as a percentage, the rate of population growth is actually slightly greater for Lethbridge than for Calgary.

Sub-Prime Mortgages in the US. Bad management by some US lenders has caused a credit crunch in the US. Put simply, mortgages were given to people who could barely afford to pay them. When interest rates rose beyond rock bottom levels, these individuals went into default, and foreclosures followed. However, Canadian lenders are far more conservative and home buyers must show a great level of solvency before being given loans. Also Canadian interest rates have been less susceptible to fluctuation.

Conclusion. If we look at the factors above and consider that other investments such as stocks are presently unpredictable, it would seem reasonable to expect 2008 to be a good year for real estate in Lethbridge. An increase in inventory will make it easier for buyers to find a suitable home and investors should still find real estate a solid investment for years to come.

For additional information about Lethbridge Real Estate, and to view all MLS listings, please visit my primary web site: www.TeamMiller.ca

Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 7:29 pm  Comments (2)  

Health of the Canadian Economy

OTTAWA – Expect more evidence of the health of the Canadian economy in the coming week with reports showing increased housing construction this summer, rising prices for new homes, a rebound in exports, a further increase in imports and higher factory shipments. And at mid-week, Bank of Canada governor David Dodge will offer his latest take on the economy’s recent performance and what has been a shifting in the balance of risks from rising inflation to an economic slowdown.

His speech in London to Canada-U.K. Chamber of Commerce, entitled “A Clear Case for Transparency,” will focus on the need for tighter regulation of financial market securities. This includes asset-backed commercial paper, which was anything but transparent and found to be infected with billions of dollars in sick subprime mortgages, causing much grief for investors and increasing the risk of recession for economies. While the fallout from the subprime mortgage market meltdown will continue to rattle financial markets, the Bank of Canada, and other central banks, will continue to closely scrutinize the flow of financial and economic data for signs that the turmoil may be spreading to the real economy.

Evidence that it has in the U.S. was the report Friday of the first monthly job loss there in four years. In Canada, however, the data suggests the economy has continued to perform well, and that’s expected to continue this coming week, starting with separate reports on housing construction starts and new-home prices on Tuesday. “Despite rising mortgage rates and high homes prices, which we expect rose again in July, we are expecting a rebound in starts in August to 218,000 as strong employment and wage growth continue to boost demand for new homes,” Scotiabank economist Karen Cordes said.

Ditto for exports.
“Total exports have been falling for the past three months as the strong Canadian dollar continues to erode competitiveness,” she said. “However, we will likely see a rebound in exports in July as strong auto production boosts export volumes, and higher oil prices lift xeport prices.” A report Friday on manufacturing will likely show that increased auto production helped boost overall factory shipments in July.

The rebound in exports isn’t expected to boost Canada’s merchandise trade surplus, offset by continuing increases in imports. But strength in imports is also a reflection of a healthy domestic
economy. “Strong consumer demand and demand for machinery and equipment will continue to put upward pressure on imports,” Cordes predicted. However, at the end of the week, a report on Canada’s lagging productivity performance will hang as a cloud over the longer-term prospects for the economy and, in turn, Canadian living standards.

Slightly weaker economic growth in the spring quarter of the year than in the first quarter, combined with an increase in the number of hours worked, will slow the growth in productivity, measured as output per hour worked, from a relatively strong performance in the first quarter, Cordes said. But it’s the economic reports out of the U.S. that the world will be watching, with a key report being August retail sales, which will be the first indication of how American consumers weathered the first month of the financial market storm. “Despite the turmoil in the latter half of the month, August retail sales are looking like they’ll be pretty healthy,” said TD Securities economist Jacqui Douglas. And that’s good news for those fearing the U.S. may slide into a consumer-led recession.
Source: The Windsor Star.

For more information about Lethbridge Real Estate please view my website at www.TeamMiller.ca

Published in: on October 23, 2007 at 4:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Another Record Year.

TORONTO – Problems in the United States’ subprime market could make investors “think twice” about buying even commercial real estate, says a Canadian brokerage company. CB Richard Ellis is still predicting a record year for Canadian real estate transactions by dollar value but said there is a view in the market that the recent subprime default issue impacting the U.S. residential market could spread.

“It will have some impact on the Wall Street view of real estate in general, and it will cause some investors to think twice before investing. However, there continues to be an immense amount of money available for investing in good Canadian real estate,” said Blake Hutcheson, president of CB Richard Ellis.

The real estate company is predicting the investment market in Canada to have 30 per cent more activity this year than last despite subprime fears. The first half of 2007 has already produced stellar results. CB Richard Ellis said there was $13.1 billion in investment activity over the first six months of 2007, a 35-per-cent bump from a year ago. “To put the investment numbers in perspective and show the growth of the investment market, th $13.1 billion invested in the first six months of this year already equals the $13.1 billion invested in all
of 2001,” Hutcheson said.

CB Richard Ellis said the second half of 2006 produced some frenzied investment activity and that carried over into 2007. Much of the activity is being driven by sellers who Hutcheson said “want to take their money off the table.”

On the question of whether prices will continue to rise in the marketplace, CB Richard Ellis noted fundamentals — rising rents and high occupancy levels — remain strong. “While activity levels may slow somewhat, a huge amount of liquidity and interest will be alive and well in Canada. There are a few known cracks these days but we do not anticipate a meltdown by any
measure,” said Hutcheson.

CB, which was a part of the transaction that saw Dundee Real Estate Investment Trust sell $2.4 billion of its assets to GE Real Estate, is forecasting similar deals coming along whereby public companies sell to institutional investors. “We expect to see more and more companies do this as they realize sizable profits on thei investments,” said Hutcheson. The downside for sellers might be the activity is impacting cap rates, the rate of return on property. With so much supply hitting the market, buyers are now demanding a higher cap rate, which means a lower price for property. “We have already seen them level off in certain markets and for certain asset classes. This trend will become even more pronounced in the months ahead,” said Hutcheson.
Source: Edmonton Journal
For more information about Lethbridge Alberta Real Estate, please visit www.TeamMiller.ca

Published in: on September 7, 2007 at 4:08 pm  Comments (1)