15th Annual Auburn Bay Garage Sale Parade and Fundraising BBQ

Due to the current situation, we have decided to cancel the spring garage sale parade


Second Mountain Equipment Co-op opening in Calgary this Saturday | Daily Hive Calgary

Calgary second Mountain Equipment Co-op is opening in the Seton Urban District this weekend, unveiling a 24,000-sq-ft store.
— Read on dailyhive.com/calgary/mountain-equipment-co-op-opening-weekend

Save-On-Foods to heat up Calgary grocery store wars Seton location first of three stores opening this fall


CALGARY — Calgary’s grocery store wars are heating up with a new chapter in the battle beginning Saturday as Save-On-Foods enters the city’s fiercely-competitive marketplace.

In short time, the B.C.-based grocery chain will have three stores in Calgary — the first opening Saturday in Seton, followed by Panorama next Friday, and Walden on November 8. A fourth store on Heritage Drive and Macleod Trail is slated for 2014.

“The challenge always is to get the right locations in the right areas,” said Darrell Jones, president of the Overwaitea Food Group, parent company of Save-On-Foods, who was in Calgary Friday to prepare for Saturday’s opening of the 42,600-square-foot store in Seton. “We’d like to have at least a dozen stores or more in the Calgary marketplace. The important thing is to find the right locations and to make sure that we have the offer that the folks in Calgary are after. Nobody wants just another grocery store. You want a place you’ll be able to come to and it’s going to deliver what the folks in Calgary want. And I think we’ve done that here.

“Clearly, Calgary’s one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, if not the fastest. It’s a very alive and dynamic city and we feel that we’re a good match for Calgary.”

Save-On-Foods, which is part of the Overwaitea Food Group owned by the Jim Pattison Group, now has 26 stores in Alberta with the opening of the Seton location. The 98-year-old company has operated in Alberta since 1990 with its first store in Edmonton. It has 102 stores in Alberta and British Columbia.

“One of the things we got ourselves in doing in the Overwaitea Food Group, particularly Save-On-Foods, is to make sure that we build our stores and design our stores specifically for the marketplace,” said Jones. “For example, here in Calgary we have a Smoke and Flame Barbecue … We even have cowboy sushi which is sushi that’s got beef in it.”

Jones said the three stores have hired 430 new employees and about 75 people are also coming to the stores mainly from Edmonton and some from Vancouver.

“The grocery store industry is really competitive right now,” said Ben Brunnen, a Calgary economic consultant. “Both Target and Walmart have ramped up their grocery offerings of late, and Sobeys bought out Safeway earlier in the year.

“The decision for Save-On-Foods to expand into Calgary is a good thing for our city. Calgarians will now have more choice of where to buy their groceries, and this competition should help lower prices and increase service quality.”

Rob Walker, senior vice-president and partner with Colliers International in Calgary, who specializes in the retail segment, said the grocery market in Calgary is highly-competitive and profitable.

“Calgary is a very important market in Canada for all retailers, and especially grocery — we all need to eat. Calgary has the highest disposable income levels in Canada, and grocery retailers will want a piece of that,” he said. “In addition, Calgary is growing rapidly and these new markets — whether that is suburban or urban markets — will need basic services, which includes grocery.

“Save-On is a market leader in each city it establishes locations in. Calgary just took a bit longer than other markets as the availability of commercial sites is challenging, and a critical mass was needed to enter Calgary … As long as Calgary keeps growing, the existing grocery operators will want to expand to serve that market. I would expect other grocery operators, including U.S. companies to be sourcing sites or companies in the near future.”

Warren Paulsen, vice-president of commercial for Brookfield Residential, said the retail component at Seton will eventually be up to a million square feet in a number of different formats. The retail area will take about five years to complete.

“For us, Save-On brings a unique offering to Calgary,” said Paulsen. “They’re offering we found to be quite interesting and different from the other grocers. It’s another amenity for the communities of Auburn and Cranston.

“Seton itself, our vision is it’s going to be the downtown core for southeast Calgary. So everything that comes with a downtown core. There will be a main street that will have some residential on top of retail. Then the institutional uses. The public library, and the high school, and the rec centre. So we’ll have all the amenities of a downtown core which of course feeds into everyone in the surrounding communities who will benefit from these amenities. Save-On is a big part of that because that’s the first grocer to open in here and we’re really excited about it.”

Alberta homeowners look to green renovations


CALGARY — Green renovations are the in thing these days for Alberta homeowners.

The Scotiabank Home Renovations Poll, released Thursday, said 65 per cent of them are likely to consider green renos and 70 per cent are likely to consider them even if they were more costly than non-green renos.

The poll of Alberta homeowners also found that: 55 per cent agree that green reno choices will lower the operating cost of their home in the long run; 53 per cent agree that they will increase the value of their home; 82 per cent are likely to consider green products for a big renovation such as installing solar heating; 82 per cent would also choose green products for a small renovation such as installing ultralow flush toilets; the top sources of inspiration for green home renovations are television programs (44 per cent), family, friends, and neighbours (36 per cent), the Internet/social media (36 per cent), and home renovation stores (35 per cent); and 56 per cent say that cost is the primary barrier to a green home reno.

“Due to the flooding that occurred in Southern Alberta in June we would expect renovation spending to rise substantially in the second half of 2013 and continue to be elevated in 2014. The resale market has also been showing substantial growth and this would contribute to renovation spending over the next year,” said Lai Sing Louie, regional economist for the Prairies and Territories for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

In 2012, renovation spending in Alberta amounted to $6.5 billion, up five per cent from 2011, according to the CMHC.

The Scotiabank poll said at the national level 66 per cent of Canadian homeowners are likely to consider making their home more energy efficient or environmentally-friendly by making green home renovations and of those likely to consider green home renovation options, 66 per cent are likely to consider them even if they were more costly than non-green renovations.

Scotiabank is partnering with Jonathan and Drew Scott of W Network’s Property Brothers to provide Canadians with helpful home renovation advice.



Calgary housing market sizzles in September


CALGARY — Calgary’s red-hot housing market continued to sizzle in September as MLS sales and prices followed an upward trend.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, total MLS sales in the city of 1,923 during the month were up 19.44 per cent from a year ago.

The average sale price rose by 8.27 per cent to $454,352 while the median price was up 8.78 per cent to $402,500.

Calvin Buss, involved in real estate marketing and sales, said job creation and in-migration are fuelling the current market.

“The international in-migration is getting stronger and stronger. And if you look at the number of people that came out of Ontario over the last six months into Alberta, it’s just staggering,” said Buss who has his home for sale in Edworthy Park at $4.49 million. The home is situated in the middle of a forest overlooking the Bow River and the downtown.

“In Calgary we have a tight market. We’ve had good markets over the last two years. And that’s tightened everything up. And then you get all that in-migration coming based on jobs. You start to get things really tightening up. Like the vacancy rate downtown doesn’t have any elasticity to help absorb these people so they’re forced into the marketplace. And the marketplace only has a certain capacity.”

Calgary is in a sellers’ market which is good news for people like Buss who have their homes for sale.

In September, there were 2,796 new listings in the Calgary market, up 4.33 per cent from a year ago but active listings at the end of the month were down by 23.08 per cent to 3,922.

Calgary area housing market has best price growth expectation


CALGARY — Calgary and area is forecast to lead the country in short-term year-over-year price growth in the housing market, according to a report released Friday by the Conference Board of Canada.

The report said prices in the Calgary region are expected to rise by seven per cent or more.

The board’s report said Calgary is now in a sellers’ market.

The board said the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of sales in Calgary of 33,264 in August was up 6.3 per cent from the previous month and a 26.3 per cent hike from a year ago.

The seasonally-adjusted annual rate of listings at 43,704 was up 2.0 per cent from July and increased by 4.8 per cent from August 2012.

The board said the average price in Calgary of $441,806 in August increased by 0.7 per cent from the previous month and by 8.0 per cent from a year ago.

Scott Bollinger, broker for the ComFree Commonsense Network, said the strong housing market in the city is due to a strong outlook for the economy.

“We’ll outperform most of the country, and that creates significant demand for housing. Interest rates are low, and the Bank of Canada is unlikely to move them till 2015,” he said. “Personal incomes are high and growing. Oil prices are strong and stable. Our growth in the 20-44-year-old demographic is second fastest in the world, behind only India. And our cost of living is lower than Toronto or Vancouver.

“That all adds up to this: More Calgarians can afford to buy a home, and more can afford to move up in the market.”

Bollinger said the strong price growth in the Calgary market is due to confidence — people who are confident about their employment and future wages.

“Confidence in housing is a good investment. Confidence in the city’s economic strengths and the strength of the market, in the face perhaps of news from other cities that a housing bubble is on the horizon. Real estate is local, and Calgarians are smart and savvy enough to realize that,” he said.

“I think we can expect this to continue because of those strong economic fundamentals, and because growth in optimistic buyers is outpacing growth in listings. It’s the old supply-and-demand.”

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, year-to-date for just the city, there have been 17,933 MLS sales as of Thursday, up 9.33 per cent from the same period a year ago. The average sale price has jumped by 6.93 per cent to $456,779 but new listings are down 0.8 per cent to 25,943.

“The average price in Calgary is forecast to increase almost six per cent this year to $435,000,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., about the census metropolitan area. “Part of the gains in the average price thus far is due to the high number of luxury homes sold this year. There has also been more pressure on prices as active listings have moved lower as well as days-on-market. Price growth is expected to continue into 2014 but at a more modest pace.”



Calgary and Vancouver lead Canadian housing market boom


CALGARY — Strong sales in Calgary and Vancouver led to a Canadian housing market boom in August as MLS transactions across the country were up 11.1 per cent compared with a year ago, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In releasing its national data on Monday, CREA said sales in Vancouver were up 53.1 per cent from last year to 2,557 while Calgary transactions rose by 28.8 per cent to 2,830.

In Canada, total MLS sales in August were 40,350.

“The year 2013 has been a very strong year for the Calgary real estate market,” said Crystal Tost, a realtor with RE/MAX Realty Professionals in Calgary. “Earlier in the year we saw the market pick up as we transitioned into a sellers’ market as a direct result of low inventory levels. The market maintained strong with low inventory right through to spring. The summer months are traditionally a bit slower than spring months, but not for 2013. The market continued on with record sales without rest as inventory levels continued a downward motion into summer months.

“There is no doubt that the flood has greatly affected the housing market in Calgary not just for sales. Workers that have flocked to the city to aid in Calgary’s rebuilding and displaced people looking for temporary housing have exhausted the inventory in the rental market and in turn we are seeing rising rental prices. The raised rental market is making it sense for some first-time buyers to enter into the market. Bank interest rates are also on the rise. We are seeing many buyers out there with great interest rate holds nearing expiration so some of those buyers will be on a time crunch to save some money in interest.”

In August, Calgary had the highest growth year-over-year in the MLS Home Price Index, which tracks typical sales in nine major Canadian centres. Calgary prices rose by 7.39 per cent compared to the national aggregate of 2.92 per cent.

As for average prices, Calgary was once again a leader with an 8.1 per cent annual hike to $432,576, while Canada saw an 8.1 per cent hike as well to $378,369.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist with the Calgary Real Estate Board, said the past two months have seen sales activity in the city shoot up higher than long-term trends.

“Both in July and August, those numbers were a little stronger. Part of that I think is due to the fact of the floods (in June),” said Lurie. “Because of that if you look at June we were running really in line with long-term trends — just above it. And then floods hit and in July and August we saw that activity increase. And some of that is from that demand being pulled forward.”

But other factors have also come into play in the local residential real estate market, she said, with stronger than expected migration this year.

“We still continue to have employment growth. The overall economic situation has done fairly well,” said Lurie. “That’s all the backdrop behind it as well. And wages have been increasing.”

There’s also the added possibility of increasing mortgage rates causing people to get into home ownership sooner.

In August, Alberta saw MLS sales increase by 17.8 per cent from last year to 6,124 while the average price rose by 7.1 per cent to $381,642.

On Monday, CREA also released its forecast for the rest of this year and 2014. It said Alberta MLS sales would grow by 6.2 per cent this year, the best in the country, to 64,100 and by another 2.3 per cent in 2014 to 65,600.

In Canada, sales are expected to drop by 1.0 per cent this year to 449,900 but expand by 3.5 per cent next year to $465,600.

The average sale price in Alberta is expected to rise by 4.8 per cent this year to $380,500, the second best growth rate in the country behind Newfoundland’s 6.1 per cent. Alberta is then forecast to lead the country in 2014 with 3.4 per cent growth to $393,300.

Canadian average sale prices are forecast to grow by 3.6 per cent this year to $376,300 and by another 1.7 per cent in 2014 to $382,800.

“Sales activity dropped sharply around this time last year in the wake of tightened mortgage rules and has improved since then, so a sizable year-over-year increase this August was expected,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, about the national August sales data.

“Buyers who put off purchase decisions or who were otherwise sidelined by tighter mortgage rules and lending guidelines implemented last year were anticipated to return to the housing market. That said, the upward trend and levels for activity in recent months has been steeper than expected, but that may not last.

“Recent increases to fixed mortgage rates caused sales to be pulled forward as buyers with pre-approved financing at lower rates jumped into the market sooner than they might have otherwise. That pool of homebuyers has largely evaporated so demand may soften over the fourth quarter. The outsized year-over-year gains may persist, however, due to weak sales toward the end of last year.”

Calgary condo price and sales growth forecast for 2014


CALGARY — Record growth is not in the foreseeable future of the Canadian condo market, but it is also likely the sector will be able to avoid a major downturn, according to the latest Conference Board of Canada condo report released Wednesday by Genworth Canada.

The Summer 2013 Metropolitan Condo Outlook suggests population growth and employment gains will help maintain demand levels to absorb supply inventory.

Calgary starts will be hampered in the third quarter by the flooding earlier in the year, but as the “youngest” city in the survey, it is expected to enjoy the highest growth in starts and resale volumes in 2014, with price growth at a moderate level of two per cent to 3.5 per cent over the next few years, said the report.

The report forecast the median price for a resale condo apartment in Calgary will rise this year by 2.8 per cent, the highest in Canada, to $251,237 and by another 3.3 per cent in 2014 to $259,640.

However, it is forecasting sales to drop by 11.6 per cent to 3,508 units this year but rebound by 10.2 per cent in 2014 to 3,867 sales.

“Whether it’s first-time homebuyers entering home ownership, empty nesters looking to downsize or professionals seeking a shorter commute, condos appear to remain a popular option for urban Canadians,” said Brian Hurley, chairman and chief executive of Genworth Canada.

The report said economic factors affecting the housing market, such as employment, interest rates and population growth, will only undergo moderate changes. Employment is expected to rise modestly in the medium-term and interest rates are expected to increase gradually, while population expansion and demographics will continue to support demand in regional markets.

“As condo starts near past averages and inventories edge closer to demand, we are seeing the condo market stabilize both in terms of the price of existing units and the volume of new construction,” said Robin Wiebe, senior economist at the Centre for Municipal Studies at the Conference Board of Canada. “Softer prices and positive economic factors continue to make condos an affordable way for Canadians to achieve home ownership.”

The report said condo sales in Calgary had been doing well before the flood, averaging over 3,900 units at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

“Active apartment listings had tapered off, hovering below 1,000 units in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of 2013,” said the report. Still, for 2012 as a whole, active listings averaged 1,263 units, up 30 per cent from 2011. The flood has presumably damaged at least some actual or potential apartment listings. This will cut active listings in the third quarter by 10 per cent and lead to a 26 per cent decline in listings for all of 2013.

“The lower listings last autumn lifted the sales-to-active-listings ratio slightly above 35 per cent, its highest level since 2009 and likely approaching sellers’ market conditions. The ratio is forecast to stabilize near 34 per cent in the third quarter of 2013 and end the year at 31 per cent. A solidly balanced market featuring a sales-to-active-listings ratio between 33 and 35 per cent is our call for between 2014 and 2017.”

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, year-to-date until August 27, there have been 2,767 MLS condo apartment sales in the city, up 14.20 per cent from a year ago. The median price has risen by 3.60 per cent to $259,000 while the average sale price has increased by 7.01 per cent to $297,954

Calgary housing market booming in August


CALGARY — Calgary’s red-hot housing market was sizzling in August as records were set for the most luxury home sales ever for the month, the highest median and average sale prices for the month and the second highest ever total MLS sales during the month.

The booming market was punctuated by another first near the end of the month. Last Friday, 12 luxury homes ($1 million plus) sold in Calgary — the most ever for a single day, according to Mike Fotiou, associate broker with First Place Realty in Calgary.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, total MLS sales for August of 2,196 in the city were up 27.53 per cent from last year; the average price rose by 8.80 per cent to $453,752; the median price increased by 6.40 per cent to $399,000; new listings were up by 7.39 per cent to 2,774; active listings were down by 24.81 per cent to 3,898; and days on market to sell fell by 17.78 per cent to 37.

CREB said the benchmark price, which is a look at typical properties that have sold, was $417,300, up 7.63 per cent from last year.

Fotiou said the median and average sale prices were the highest ever for the month.

The record for most sales in the month was set in 2005 at 2,326, he said.

Fotiou said August had 64 sales in the $1-million plus price point, doubling last year’s total and a 68 per cent increase from the previous August record set in 2007.

At the end of August, year-to-date, there have been 524 luxury home sales compared with 370 for the same period last year, said Fotiou. In 2012, the annual record for luxury home sales was set at 544 transactions.

Grace Yan, a realtor with RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) in Calgary, said the real estate market rapidly changes from week to week.

“It is currently quite a strong sellers’ market. We are seeing properties go on the market then within a day will be sold with competing offers and at times I have seen properties that have gone competing offers and sold for $100,000 over list price,” she said, adding good properties that are listed at market value are sold quickly.

“We are finding that the market is currently buoyant due to the small ratio of listings. We still have quite a few people relocating to Calgary due to a strong job market and strong economy. Prices continue to rise as there is currently high demand and low supply of housing inventory. So when those good properties come on the market they are being snapped up fast.”

Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said many existing homeowners have taken advantage of the rise in home values by selling their house and using the equity gains towards a luxury home.

“In addition, rising incomes and relatively low mortgage rates have also helped buyers purchase higher-priced homes,” he said.

Becky Walters, CREB’s president, said sales have been limited by the need for more resale listings.

“However, August did see more new listings than last year, giving buyers more choice,” she said.

Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist, said housing demand has been supported by another year of strong migration levels, improving employment and wage growth.

“Last year’s mortgage rule changes did not reverse the sales growth in our city, but did redirect demand to more affordable product,” she said. “While recent increases in lending rates may require purchasers to adjust their expectations, Calgary remains a relatively affordable Canadian city. Our affordability, combined with a positive economic outlook is expected to support demand growth for the remainder of the year.”

Calgary MLS sales in August on pace for 2nd highest ever


CALGARY — Calgary home sales are on pace for the highest August total since 2005 and the second highest on record for the month, says a Calgary realtor.

Mike Fotiou, associate broker of First Place Realty, said month-to-date between August 1-21 there have been 1,462 MLS sales in the city, up 32.4 per cent from last year.

That’s down from the 1,516 sales pace set in August 2005 for the same period. Sales ended up at 2,326 for the entire month of August in 2005.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, for the first three weeks of August, the average sale price increased by 10.14 per cent to $456,105 and active listings of 4,089 were down 24.57 per cent.

Tanya Eklund, with RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) in Calgary, said there are so many factors that have helped the real estate market reach such impressive numbers.

“The flood did throw a wrench into things in some communities, yet we have seen other communities flourish from the flood. As long as the price of oil stays strong, the pipeline out east goes forward, the vacancy rate stays low, all of these will contribute to the continued strength in our economy,” said Eklund in a live Herald web chat on the real estate market with Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist and Don Campbell, senior analyst and founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network.

“We are in a seller’s market currently I would say. I base it on number of sales versus listings and I also consider days on market. We are fairly low in inventory based on last year and our sales have increased substantially.”

Campbell said Calgary entered the year with a real estate market that was performing exactly how it should have been, based on its underlying economics.

“While the world turmoil was continuing to grow, Calgary’s economy almost felt sheltered from the storm. Economic growth, population growth, housing demand right on trend … then the floods hit and turned the city and its market upside down,” he said.

He said, now post flood, the numbers will not be indicative of the actual underlying market and although will still look good, they won’t be reflective of how the market is really performing.

“The bottom line is this: the results of this flood will play a role in the housing numbers for at least 12 months in all cities and towns affected by it and will skew the market health readings,” he said.

Lurie said strong resale growth numbers will likely persist for much of this year, outside of the flood, as migration levels posted stronger than expected levels, supporting stronger than expected demand growth.

“The housing market will continue to benefit due to strong fundamentals, assuming the energy sector remains strong,” she said.

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