Monthly Archives: September 2012

What happened in September?

Looking at the September statistics in isolation will not tell you the complete story. It still looks like we’ve got increasing sales along with an inventory shortage, while the median price is up:

The trend is your friend

More importantly, it appears from the table below that we will see decreased sales in October if the trend continues. We’ve had eight consecutive months of sales increases, but I predict that will come to an end next month. What’s the reason for the imminent sales drop? We’ve had sales increases despite extremely low inventory. Is the long-awaited correction finally going to hit Calgary, or is it that buyers have finally run out of homes to purchase?

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Calgary has the best real estate statistics in Canada

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find good real estate data when you’re buying or selling, if it doesn’t exist. I received this email from a reader who realizes the value of relevant and timely information. If anyone reading can help this Ottawa resident, please leave a comment. It sounds like a great opportunity for Ottawa realtors to help inform their community:

“After moving to Ottawa I have spent significant amount of time and effort trying to find information on Ottawa RE stats. Other then very short and dry monthly bulletins on the OREB website and highly irregular and non-descriptive posts on the websites of the local Real Estate agents I couldn’t find anything even remotely similar to information provided on your website. I even emailed OREB asking them where I can find historical RE data, but it seems like they simply ignoring my requests so far. Is there a way for non-realtor to obtain current and historic stats from the local Real Estate Board? I realize that Ottawa Real Estate Board is out of your jurisdiction, but may be you can give an idea how I can get my hands on such information? Thank you for providing Calgarians with valuable RE information.”

Garth is the best

Photo from the GreaterFool.ca

Welcome to everyone who is clicking over from Garth Turner’s blog, the GreaterFool, but a special good morning to Garth himself who will be looking in periodically to get the latest info on the Calgary housing market. Garth had this to say about me… “Some realtors, like this one in Calgary, can’t function without worrying about me, reacting to me or trashing me.”

Well, Gartho, I function just fine without you, and I’ve never trashed you. That’s your preserve. As I’ve said before, if you stop telling lies about me, I’ll stop telling the truth about you.

For this special occasion when I have hundreds of Garth’s readers  looking in, I thought it would be appropriate to honour him with this online poll:  Garth Turner’s crack.

Garth is crazy about my blog

Be sure to check these pages which Garth is anxious for you to see I like Garth and Predictions.

Garth, thanks for following my blog so closely. I see you’ve logged in 14 times in the past few days. When you logged in tonight at 5:56 pm(MDT), you spent 22 minutes of your precious time reading my blog. You certainly know where to find accurate information on the Calgary housing market, but I can’t believe you’re still using that tired and worn out Vista operating system. It looks like you used your HTC Panache Android smartphone, though, when you checked my blog before you went to bed at 9:48 pm(MDT). You’re up to 28 times on that one. If you had stayed up a few minutes longer, you would have seen this post.

Despite his protestations, Garth is an avid reader of my blog. This is how he gets his day started.

With such intense interest in my blog, do you think it’s possible that Garth is considering Moving to Calgary?

Thanks, Garth, for posting the link to my blog. I hope you’ll continue to do it often. The blawg dogs will be better informed because of it, and I know that’s your main goal, to make people aware of the truth. I hope you continue to enjoy reading my blog, and we’re looking forward to seeing you in Calgary and hearing your scary predictions, which never seem to come true. For example, how did these turn out:

  •  Neighbourhood food shortages as just-in-time delivery systems are disrupted
  • Real estate prices in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort Mac at 50% of 2006 levels
  • Scaling back of 2010 Olympics in Vancouver
  • Failure of a major Canadian bank, leading to emergency merger.
  • Banks ordered temporarily shut and restrictions on cash withdrawals.

I won’t go into your Nortel predictions.

If you’re hoping to buy a house here, you’ll need to be quick on the draw. Look at this recent listing:

The above house was listed in the morning and had a conditional sale by sundown

My readers are intelligent enough to make their own decisions

I’d like to thank Sean W for his insightful, accurate, and intelligent comment from the previous post.  It makes total sense if all you are concerned about is your “investment.”

We’ve been through it before on my blog, but maybe it’s time to reiterate. People buy homes for reasons other than investment, and are willing to pay a premium to do so. There are freedoms, options, and opportunities which come with home ownership. Is renting better than buying? There is no “right” way, only “different” ways, based on your priorities in life.

Sean said, “Eventually what Garths saying will come true in Calgary.. its just basic economics. Its not that different here.”

For those who are new to this blog, I’ve been saying that since Feb 2007, long before Garth ever started his blog. The key word in Sean’s comment is “eventually.” When is that, exactly? There are numerous blogs where you can get conjecture, speculation, possibility, and wishful thinking. I report the statistics as they are today, not what they might be in two years, but I point out trends that show which way the market in Calgary is going.

I also give my readers credit for having the intelligence to make up their own minds based on the information available, of which there is plenty, and on their personal situation and priorities. I’m not about to force-feed anything to anyone.

If you are desperately hoping for a crash, that’s fine with me. If you are praying for increased prices, that’s also fine. I don’t have a preference. My goal is to give information upon which you can make an intelligent decision.

Way back in ancient history, 2006, when I started my website, there was very little relevant information available to the public. CREB had a ticker that showed the average price. I had an inkling that buyers and sellers were hungry for more, especially trends. Much of what I started in 2006 is now commonly accepted as vital information, and people would protest loudly if it wasn’t available. My website was the first to…

  • give daily updates on market activity.
  • advocate the use of median prices as more accurate than average prices
  • show months of inventory(aka absorption rate)
  • show sales price per sq ft
  • show the number and list price of pending sales
  • give the number of sales over list price
  • give the number of price reductions

I’m happy to say that CREB has improved and upgraded their stats to a point where they are the best in the country, but some details are still missing. I continue to point out features of the market  which are unique, such as the trend among first-time buyers. My colleague, Mike Fotiou, at http://www.findcalgary.ca/, has taken the statistics to a new level and has details which would satisfy any statistics nerd.

As always, though, there are people who can’t tell the difference between information and advocacy. Shooting the messenger is a common occurrence among those who don’t agree with the direction of the market. It brings to mind the saying, “no good deed shall go unpunished.”

I’ve yet to understand what motivates a few control freaks who have the burning desire to analyse my personal beliefs and motivations, yet they know nothing about me. Other cowardly bloggers have gone so far as to post defamatory comments and outright lies about me, under the guise of anonymity. It’s discouraging to know they are among us.

To this day, I continue to receive threatening, insulting, profane comments from those who can’t seem to accept accurate information if it doesn’t uphold their own agendas. When I point out the incorrrect predictions of the so-called experts, they get apoplectic, rather than examining their own beliefs. Garth Turner even threatened to sue me.

I do know that 99% of my readers are thoughtful, aware, and well-equipped to make their own decisions about real estate. I base that on the excellent clients who come to me from my website and blog.

As always, I appreciate and welcome respectful comments which analyse the housing market, not me.

Market update from Dreamland

I’ve been accused of living in DREAMLAND on Garth Turner’s blog because I’m reporting statistics which don’t conform to the downward trend of sales in the rest of the country. I have no opinion on whether the Calgary market is good or bad, positive or negative. It is what it is. It depends on where you sit. Are you a buyer, a seller, moving up, or moving away? Your personal circumstances will determine how you feel. I’m not going to spin things in order to please a constituency with an agenda. You’ll be able to make a wiser decison about your activities in the market if you have the facts, and here they are:

As I’ve oft repeated in the past, if inventory stays low, it will continue to put upward pressure on prices. Sales numbers are pretty consistent with the past 3 years, but would be much higher if there were more listings coming onto the market.

Calgary experiences increased sales despite fewer listings

Two weeks into September, and still no signs of a crack appearing in the Calgary housing market.

Calgary housing prices and sales on the rise in September

Only three days ago, we read in the Calgary Herald, Calgary housing prices and sales on the decline in September. This headline made front page news on the doomer blogs.

The bubble bloggers took this as a sign that Calgary was joining Toronto and Vancouver on the road to real estate Armageddon. What a difference 3 days can make. I can guarantee that you won’t be seeing any links posted to my headline on the fearmonger’s blogs. They’re not interested in enlightenment or accurate statistics. They prefer to reinforce their agenda with selective data which reinforces their group-think.

What should be of greatest concern is that the housing market in Calgary has a shortage of listings. Inventory is down 23% compared to last year. Can you imagine how much higher the sales increase would be if there was a better selection of homes for buyers?

The Calgary housing market is all sweetness and light

Welcome back!

Sunshine, lollipops, and puppy dogs can also be added to the basket of good things which we have in Calgary. Unlike the craziness which has befallen the real estate market in Vancouver, we have stability in the world’s fifth most liveable city. If you believe the Toronto Board of Trade, Calgary is the best city on the planet. Let’s hope that Garth Turner’s recent visit here did not infect us with the Toronto disease of negativity and defeatism. It appears that no amount of loathing from the likes of jealous Ontarians will have any effect on our terrific city and its potential. Calgary remains an oasis of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, with a balanced and healthy real estate market.

Just this morning I heard our dynamic and enlightened mayor, Naheed Nenshi, on the Eyeopener describing Calgary as the city of the future. I like our mayor, but I disagree. We are the city of the here and now, and the envy of the world. After seeing recent political developments, let’s get ready to welcome an influx of progressive, free-thinking people from Quebec to the city of opportunity.

RBC’s latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report said the local market has  enjoyed the best of all worlds recently: stronger home resales and home  building, moderately rising prices, and attractive and improving affordability. Calgary housing market among Canada’s most affordable

We’re not without some challenges, however, but our problems are small by comparison. Not enough inventory is the major concern. Students are having a hard time finding accommodation this semester. I guess it all depends which side of the fence you’re on. Landlords can pick and choose who they’ll rent to, and get a fair return on their investment. Tenants, on the other hand, will be paying more and will be getting screened more carefully.

Down to the nitty-gritty data, very little has changed since I last blogged two months ago. I fully expected we’d be seeing the usual autumn price drops by now, but the median price is still at spring-like levels. Inventory is still low, down 22% compared to last year. It’s difficult to have sales increases when there’s so little choice for buyers, but somehow, sales are still up over last year, and also up compared to the 3-year average.

First-time buyers

Two months ago, we were inundated with dire predictions of a market collapse when the end of 30-year amortizations was introduced. I expected first-time buyers would be hit hardest by the new rules, but the impact has been minimal. The table below is typical of the homes which first-time buyers will purchase, and is identical to last year, except for a slightly higher price:

Date # Sales Price per sq ft
2012 188 $250
2011 188 $239
Criteria: 2-storey homes in the suburbs under 1700 sq ft for the 30-day period Aug 8 – Sep 6, 2012

The biggest obstacle for first-timers is the lack of inventory. It’s hard to buy a house when there’s nothing to choose from. For the market to remain viable, we need buyers at the entry level so that move-up buyers can sell. This lack of listings really shows up in the “under $500,000” price range, where there is only a 66-day supply of homes for sale.

What happens when there’s a lack of inventory?

When there’s a lack of inventory, an attractive and accurately-priced home will sell quickly. The above house was listed in the morning and had a conditional sale by sundown.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the great weather this summer.  Between real estate transactions, I finally climbed Canada’s highest maintained hiking trail which is right on our back door in beautiful Kananaskis Country. Centennial Ridge – Mt Allan hike.

Check back often, as I’ll be updating the blog regularly, at least until ski season starts.