Monday, June 16, 2008

Valhalla Path Realty

I am very excited to announce that as of today I am now part of Valhalla Path Realty. Valhalla Path is an independent office located at 280 Baker Street in Nelson. Stop by and have a cup of coffee with me in the garden. I look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Home listings flood market

A fresh flood of homes on the market sent resale listings to their second consecutive record level in May, while sales activity and price gains both cooled.

There were 54,029 new listings of resale housing units in major markets last month, a 2.2 per cent increase over the seasonally adjusted record hit in April, according to data released Friday by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

On an unadjusted basis, listings rose to 67,628 units, up 7 per cent from May 2007.

Unlike listings, year-over-year sales levels fell in 18 of the 20 markets in the study for which data were available. Information was not available for the Quebec markets because geographical areas in the province are being redefined.

Unit sales across Canada dropped by 17 per cent this May from the year before on an unadjusted basis, and by 0.5 per cent compared with April, 2008, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Prices edged up 1 per cent in May from the year before to $337,071, a new record for the average price, but the smallest such increase in more than seven years.

“Rising food, fuel and home prices are denting consumer confidence. Increasingly cautious home buyers may keep listings on the market longer before being sold, which increases the importance of realistic pricing,” Gregory Klump, chief economist at CREA, said in a statement.

The most dramatic surges in new listings occurred in Saskatoon and Regina, a marked reversal from earlier in the year when they were the country's tightest markets in terms of supply.

New resale listings rose by 58 per cent in Regina and 44 per cent in Saskatoon year-over-year in May. During the same month, year-over-year sales fell in those markets by 28 per cent and 37 per cent respectively.

This pattern has already been seen in other markets including Calgary and Edmonton, where tight supply and soaring prices have given way to a cool-down.

Listings in those markets are now retreating from the peak levels reached in March as the market readjusts, with listings up 1 per cent in Calgary and down 9 per cent in Edmonton from the year before.

“It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Canadian housing market is gradually cooling off, with the decline in activity in the West particularly pronounced,” said TD Securities economics strategist Millan Mulraine. “However, we believe that the sector will remain in reasonable shape, and will avoid any U.S.-style housing correction.”

CREA characterized Calgary, Edmonton and Windsor, Ont., – the only three markets where home prices dropped year-over-year in May – as the country's three “most balanced major markets.”

Other data included in the report (all figures compare May, 2008 with May, 2007):
– Markets with the largest increases in listings: Regina (+58 per cent), Saskatoon (+44 per cent), Greater Vancouver (+20 per cent), Victoria (+20 per cent), Sudbury, Ont. (+16 per cent), Ottawa (+16 per cent).
– Markets with the largest drops in listings: Edmonton (-9 per cent), Windsor-Essex (-6 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (-6 per cent).
– Markets with the largest decreases in sales: Saskatoon (-37 per cent), Edmonton (-35 per cent), Calgary (-33 per cent), Greater Vancouver (-31 per cent), Regina (-28 per cent).
– Markets with increases in sales (2 of 20): Newfoundland and Labrador (+5.5 per cent), Ottawa (+2.5 per cent).
– Markets with the largest increases in unit price: Regina (+45 per cent), Saskatoon (+29 per cent), Saint John (+22 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (+21 per cent).
– Markets with decreases in unit price (3 of 20): Windsor-Essex (-6 per cent), Edmonton (-5 per cent), Calgary (-2 per cent) .

LORI McLEOD, Globe and Mail Update

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Balance returns to recreational property markets across Canada this year, says RE/MAX

After an extended period of extraordinary growth, more balanced market conditions have emerged in recreational property markets across the country, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.

The RE/MAX Recreational Property Report found that a substantial increase in the supply of recreational properties listed for sale, combined with fewer buyers overall, characterized most recreational markets this year. Of the 45 markets surveyed, 91 per cent (or 41 markets) were in the transition stage, moving from strong sellers into balanced market conditions. The only exceptions were Salt Spring Island, two markets in Saskatchewan—Last Mountain Lake and Qu’Appelle Lakes and Lakes Candle, Emma, and Waskesiu -- and Newfoundland’s East Coast —where inventory levels were relatively low. Affordability was a primary factor in 35 per cent of markets surveyed, given serious upward pressure on recreational values in recent years.

“We’re coming off the longest period of economic expansion since World War II,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Recreational property values have appreciated beyond our wildest dreams across the country. More balanced market conditions are a welcome change for purchasers.”

Adverse winter weather conditions during the first four months of the year hindered recreational activity. Sixty-seven per cent of markets reported softening in the number of sales year-to-date, while average prices remained stable or experienced moderate increases over 2007 levels for the same period. Economic concerns, fueled by negative GDP growth in the first quarter and soaring energy costs, have also played a role in the transitioning market.

“Market conditions have shifted, but don’t expect to see bargain basement prices or fire sales,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “The recreational market continues to experience solid demand -- a trend that is expected to continue throughout 2008. The influx of new listings has yet to translate into downward pressure on recreational property prices. Prime waterfront properties, while more plentiful than in year’s past, will still command top dollar.”

For the first time in many years, in fact, a good selection of entry-level waterfront is available in markets across the country. Eighteen per cent of those surveyed offer properties under the $200,000 price point, including; Central South Cariboo in British Columbia; Parry Sound, East Kawarthas and Kingston in Ontario; Summerside, PEI; South Shore, Nova Scotia; Shediac, New Brunswick; and the East Coast of Newfoundland.

Recreational property buyers also found themselves divided between two borders this year. The housing market meltdown in the US combined with a Canadian dollar at par created serious investment opportunities for secondary properties in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California. Some of those very same factors have spurred American recreational property owners in Canada to list their properties for sale, with many looking to take advantage of ideal market conditions here.

“Many Canadians are capitalizing on market conditions in major American centres,” says Polzler. “For some purchasers, the move is strictly a short-term investment strategy with a pay-off at the end of the day, while for others, retirement is the main objective.”

The report also found that younger buyers were a factor in 40 per cent of recreational markets surveyed.

“Baby boomers are clearly not the only purchasers that appreciate the recreational lifestyle,” says Ash. “Generation X is quickly becoming a force in the marketplace, spurring demand for condominium product on ski hills, oceanfront properties in good surf locales, and water frontage on trendy lakes with celebrity residents.”

Other highlights:

-Alberta’s red-hot economy has helped boost recreational property markets in British Columbia, Atlantic Canada, and some parts of Ontario.
-Affordability is prompting buyers to consider back lots, riverfront, condominiums, hobby farms and leased land.
-Some purchasers looking to secure an exit strategy are buying recreational properties or secondary homes in residential neighbourhoods in close proximity to the water’s edge.

RE/MAX Western Canada June 10,2008

Bank of Canada holds line on interest rates

The Bank of Canada gave the market a surprise on Tuesday as it left a key interest rate unchanged amid inflation worries.

The central bank left the overnight rate — what the country's big banks charge each other for overnight loans — steady at three per cent.

Many economists had forecast a cut of a quarter of a percentage point.

"The Bank of Canada proved today that it has a mind of its own," said Beata Caranci, the director of economic forecasting at TD Bank.

The Canadian dollar shed 0.08 of a cent to settle at 97.81cents US.

The Bank of Canada is currently grappling with mixed signals — a slowing economy and inflation tensions.

The country's GDP unexpectedly contracted by 0.3 per cent annualized in the first quarter. Housing is cooling, last month's job-creation figures were the lowest this year, and a couple of recent surveys indicate consumer confidence in Canada has fallen to a six-year low.

On the other hand, inflation pressures are building, with oil hitting a record $139 US a barrel last week. Food prices also took a big jump in April.

In the commentary accompanying its latest rate decision, the Bank of Canada said that while U.S. economic weakness "has not been favourable for demand for Canadian goods and services, overall, global growth has been stronger and commodity prices have been sharply higher than expected," the bank said.

"At the same time, many of the downside risks to inflation identified in the April [Monetary Policy Report] have eased, while the evolution of credit conditions has been in line with expectations," the bank said.

If current trends in energy prices continue, inflation is expected to rise above three per cent later this year, the bank said, adding it believes the current level of interest rates are enough to help bring inflation back down to its two-per-cent target.

No changes seen in short term

Dawn Desjardins, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank, said the Bank of Canada is unlikely to switch to a tightening interest rate policy stance in the near term, especially with the economy underperforming this year.

"The bank’s concluding statement that 'there continue to be important downside and upside risks to inflation in Canada, which the bank will monitor closely' implies no policy action anytime soon," Desjardins said.

The Bank of Canada has slashed its key lending rate by 1.5 percentage points since early December. At its last policy meeting in April, the central bank cut its overnight rate by half a percentage point.

The bank's next interest rate decision is set for July 15.

CBC News June 10, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Blue Bag recycling is coming to the Central sub-region

Starting in June, residents of the Central sub-region (i.e. Salmo, Nelson, Kaslo, and Electoral Areas D, E, F, and G) will be making the shift to Blue Bag recycling. The Blue Bag program will be a dramatic improvement on the previous system. Residents in this sub-region will no longer need to sort their recyclable materials at their respective recycling depot. Instead of a series of bins and igloos, each area’s recycling depot will receive one large bin for Blue Bags, one large bin for large or excessive cardboard, and an igloo for glass. Residents of Nelson will receive residential Blue Bag curbside pick-up in the same manner as garbage is serviced.

Participating in the Blue Bag program is easy. Simply collect recyclable materials together in any clear, blue-tinted, plastic bag (max. size 30”x 36” for residents outside of Nelson, and 26”x 38” for residents located within Nelson). Items that are accepted include mixed paper, food and beverage cans, cardboard (small volumes, flattened, and max. size 24” x 36”), newspaper, and rigid food-grade plastics displaying the numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, or 7. In order to protect workers, glass cannot be included in Blue Bags. This material must be taken separately to an appropriate end-point facility (if a deposit applies) or to an RDCK recycling depot.

“Moving to a Blue Bag system makes sense”, stated Josh Smienk, RDCK Director for Electoral Area E and the Chair of the Central Sub-region, the governing body that directs resource recovery efforts in the specific area. “The improvements we’ve made to the program will mean increased convenience and better service for local residents. It also means that more materials will be kept out of local landfills and a smaller carbon footprint”.

As part of the new program, the recycling depot located at the end of Baker St. in Nelson will be closed permanently. However, the transfer station located at 70 Lakeside Dr. will remain open.

Residents will be expected to provide their own Blue Bags. Blue Bags must be clear, tinted blue, and made of plastic with a max. size 30”x 36” for residents outside of Nelson, and 26”x 38” for residents located within Nelson. If Blue Bags exceed these dimensions or contain garbage, they will not be accepted. Acceptable Blue Bags are available for purchase at a number of local merchants. Any brand name will be accepted.

Residents of the City of Nelson can expect to see Blue Bag recycling in place for June 16th. Residents living outside of Nelson in the Central Sub-region can expect to see Blue Bag recycling in place for late June.

RDCK Website

Markets expect another rate cut Tuesday

The Bank of Canada is widely expected to deliver another interest rate cut Tuesday morning amid signs that the economy is cooling.
Most analysts say the central bank will drop its key overnight lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 2.75 per cent and then put its recent rate-slashing campaign on hold.
A survey of 12 primary dealers by Reuters shows all are calling for a quarter-point rate cut, followed by a pause.
"We expect the bank to send a signal that they believe they are likely done cutting rates (but not completely slamming on the door on possible further action)," said BMO Capital Markets economist Doug Porter.
TD economics strategist Jacqui Douglas also sees the central bank moving to the sidelines following a quarter-point cut on Tuesday. But she sees the bank trimming rates again later this year.
"With extremely weak demand from our biggest trading partner, we think that shrinking exports will keep the Canadian economy at a below-potential growth rate for some time, and that before the end of the year, the Bank of Canada will see that the recovery it had hoped for is not occurring," she said.
Others think the central bank won't resume its rate-cutting until next year. "We expect a quarter-point cut from the Bank of Canada on June 10th, followed by a pause … as the [bank] waits to evaluate the post-rebate U.S. economy, and then a return to easing with a further half-point cut in Q1 2009," said Scotiabank economist Derek Holt.
Mixed signals
Observers noted that the Bank of Canada has some mixed signals to wrestle with as it ponders its interest rate decision.
On the one hand, there are definite signs that the economy is slowing down. The country's GDP unexpectedly contracted by 0.3 per cent annualized in the first quarter. Housing is cooling, last month's job-creation figures were the lowest this year and a couple of recent surveys show consumer confidence in Canada has fallen to a six-year low.
On the other hand, inflation pressures are building, with oil topping at a record $139 US a barrel last week. Food prices also took a big jump in April.
The Bank of Canada has already slashed its key lending rate by 1.5 percentage points since early December. At its last policy meeting in April, the central bank cut its overnight rate by half a percentage point.
The C.D. Howe's monetary policy council recommended the Bank of Canada make no change in its overnight rate. But the 11 members were sharply divided. Three of the 11 called for a cut of a quarter of a percentage point, five recommended no change, and three called for rate increases.

CBC June 9, 2008

City of Nelson Zoning Map

Here is something new for those of you with an interest in zoning. On The City of Nelson website you can now view a city zonning map. Click the link below to view.

Housing Starts Move Higher in May

The seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of housing starts was 221,300 units in May, up from 213,900 units in April, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
“Housing starts in May moved up from the strong level posted in April. Most of the increase reflected a rise in single starts, which in April had reached their lowest level since May 2001,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.
In May the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts edged up by 4.0 per cent to 192,800 units compared to April. Urban multiples rose 1.9 per cent to 116,100 in May, while singles increased 7.3 per cent to 76,700 units.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts went up in all regions of Canada, except Ontario, which saw a decrease of 7.4 per cent to 67,600 in May. Urban starts increased to 8,900 units in Atlantic Canada, 44,100 units in Quebec, 36,800 units in the Prairies, and 35,400 units in British Columbia. In terms of single urban starts, all regions were up in May.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 28,500 units in May2.
For the first five months of 2008, actual starts in rural and urban areas combined were up an estimated 0.7 per cent compared to the same period last year. Year-to-date actual starts in urban areas have increased by an estimated 5.6 per cent over the same period in 2007. Actual urban single starts for the five months of this year were 14.8 per cent lower than they were a year earlier, while multiple starts increased by 22.7 per cent over the same period.

CMHC Ottawa June 9, 2008

National Rental Vacancy Rate Edges Lower

The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada's 35 major centres decreased slightly to 2.6 per cent in April 2008, from 2.8 per cent in April 2007, according to the spring Rental Market Survey released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
“The Canadian economy remains very supportive of strong demand for both ownership and rental housing thanks to solid job creation and healthy income gains,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. “High levels of immigration and the increasing gap between the cost of home ownership and renting continue to drive rental demand in 2008. These factors have put downward pressure on vacancy rates over the past year.”
The results of CMHC’s spring survey reveal that the major centres with the lowest vacancy rates in April 2008 were Victoria (0.3 per cent), Kelowna (0.3 per cent), Greater Sudbury (0.7 per cent), Vancouver (0.9 per cent), and Saskatoon (0.9 per cent). A unit is considered vacant if, at the time of the survey, it is physically unoccupied and ready for immediate rental. In other words, a new tenant can sign a lease for a vacant unit and move in immediately. All major centres in British Columbia except for Abbotsford, posted a vacancy rate below one per cent due to rising migration to British Columbia and relatively high home ownership costs that have resulted in increased rental demand. Provincially, vacancy rates were lowest among the western provinces, especially Manitoba (1.0 per cent), Saskatchewan (1.2 per cent), and British Columbia (1.1 per cent). This is largely due to the migration of workers from Central and Atlantic Canada, who settle in rental housing upon their arrival in the western provinces. As for Alberta, both Edmonton and Calgary have seen increases in the vacancy rate, mainly due to reduced migration into the province and increased supply of non-traditional forms of rental accommodations such as rented condominiums and basement apartments.
At the other end of the spectrum, the major urban centres with the highest vacancy rates were Windsor (13.2 per cent), Moncton (5.5 per cent), and Hamilton (4.7 per cent).
The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in Canada’s major centres were in Calgary ($1,096), Toronto ($1,075), Vancouver ($1,071), and Edmonton ($1,000). Of all the major centres, these four were the only ones with average rents at or above $1,000. The lowest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments were in Saguenay ($497), and Trois-Rivières ($501).
Year-over-year comparison of rents can be slightly misleading because rents in newly-built structures tend to be higher than in existing buildings. Therefore, CMHC provides an analysis of rents that excludes new structures, resulting in a better indication of actual rent increases paid by tenants. Overall, the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures across Canada’s 35 major centres increased by 3.6 per cent between April 2007 and April 2008. While the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures increased in all major centres, rent increases were particularly strong in Saskatoon (21.3 per cent), Edmonton (13.7 per cent), Regina (10.4 per cent), and Abbotsford (9.1 per cent). When these four centres are excluded, the average rent increase in existing structures in the remaining 30 centres was only 2.3 per cent.
CMHC’s spring Rental Market Survey found that the average rental apartment availability rate in Canada’s 35 major centres was 4.9 per cent in April 2008 down from 5.4 per cent in April 2007. A rental unit is considered available if the unit is vacant (physically unoccupied and ready for immediate rental), or if the existing tenant has given or received notice to move and a new tenant has not signed a lease. Availability rates were highest in Windsor (15.6 per cent), Hamilton (8.1 per cent) and Moncton (6.4 per cent), while the lowest rates were in Kelowna (1.3 per cent), Vancouver (1.3 per cent) and Winnipeg (1.5 per cent).