Canada’s national housing agency says the country’s real estate industry will be strong in the back half of the year, building on favourable economic conditions in the first six months of 2011.

 

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., in a report accompanying its quarterly earnings, said Monday that mortgage rates near historic lows and improvements in employment have led to fewer claims under its mortgage insurance business despite higher home prices.

 

CMHC insurance protects lenders against default.

 

The agency said it expected fixed mortgage rates to stay relatively flat for most of the year, with the five-year posted rate at between 4.1 per cent and 5.6 per cent, then increase slightly in 2012, while variable rate mortgages would remain near historically low levels.

 

But prices of homes shown on the Multiple Listing Service are expected to grow slightly going forward because the resale market is likely to stay in balanced territory.

 

Meanwhile, CMHC said changes to mortgage rules introduced by the federal government earlier this year played a part in reducing mortgage interest payments and allowed Canadians to build equity in their homes faster.

 

Canadians are finding it easier to pay off their mortgages, with arrears levels improving and the volume of mortgage insurance claims lower than expected.

 

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As of September 1, 2011, home inspection businesses and individual home inspectors must obtain a licence from the provincial government.

 

Qualifications for a home inspector licence

  • Inspectors must have a degree, diploma or certificate in home inspection from an approved educational institution and successfully complete a test inspection. The government currently recognizes the Carson Dunlop & Associates curriculum offered by SAIT and will evaluate other courses that become available in Alberta.
  • Inspectors are automatically qualified for a licence if they hold a Registered Home Inspector designation from the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors; or a Certified Master Inspector designation from the Master Inspector Certification Board, Inc., affiliated with the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.
  • Inspectors who do not meet these requirements may apply for a conditional licence valid until March 31, 2013 to give them time to acquire the necessary qualifications.

Standards for home inspections
The Home Inspection Business Regulation establishes basic requirements that home inspections must include, unless the consumer specifically agrees otherwise. Inspections must address the condition of a home’s:

  • roofing, flashings or chimney;
  • exterior, including lot gradings, walkways, driveways, retaining walls, patios and decks;
  • structure;
  • electrical;
  • heating, heat pumps and cooling;
  • insulation;
  • plumbing; and
  • interior.

Inspectors can make recommendations on any deficiencies they identify, such as suggesting the consumer obtain an expert opinion, but are prohibited from estimating the cost of any repairs or improvements.

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For Sale“Housing starts have been strong in the last few months, but are forecast to moderate closer in line with demographic fundamentals,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist for CMHC. “Despite recent financial uncertainty, factors such as employment, immigration and mortgage rates remain supportive of the Canadian housing sector.”

 

Housing starts will be in the range of 166,300 to 197,200 units in 2011, with a point forecast of 183,200 units. In 2012, housing starts will be in the range of 161,700 to 207,200 units, with a point forecast of 183,900 units.

 

Existing home sales will be in the range of 425,000 to 472,500 units in 2011, with a point forecast of 446,700 units, essentially the same level as in 2010. In 2012, MLS®2 sales are expected to move up modestly in the range of 407,500 to 510,000 units, with a point forecast of 458,000 units.

 

The average MLS® price increased in the first half of 2011 partly as a result of more higher-end homes sold during that period. For the remainder of 2011, the average MLS® price is expected to moderate. Nevertheless, the annual average MLS® price will experience an overall increase in 2011 compared to last year. As the existing home market moves to more balanced markets, growth in the average MLS® price in 2012 is expected to be more modest.

 

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With a regional economy buoyed by the oil and gas sector and an average single family home price of $384,656 in 2011, Edmonton homebuyers have an open window.

 

Research released Monday by RBC Economics Research shows a person buying a home in Edmonton would spend 33.8% of their household income on owning a home, on average. That’s up just over half a percent, and still lower than Calgary’s 37.1% - and one of the most affordable housing markets in the nation.

 

Chris Mooney, president of the Realtors Association of Edmonton (RAE), likes the numbers.

 

“The numbers show that Edmonton, from an affordability perspective, is one of the national leaders. In terms of being a major municipality, having over a million residents in the metro Edmonton area and having prices as affordable as they are is a real blessing for Edmonton, I think,” Mooney said.

 

“The last time I checked, Edmonton was running $100,000 less than Calgary,” he said. “I think that’s an indicator of how lucky we are in Edmonton.”

 

The real estate industry keeps an eye on rental industry numbers, and a lower vacancy rate is encouraging, spurred by a warm oil and gas sector, Mooney said.

 

“In a market like ours where we’re seeing a lot of in-migration of labor, that’s a strong indicator of future sales ... foretelling further activity in the residential market,” he said, predicting a “bump” in real estate sales within a year.

 

Keeping an eye on the real estate bubble that burst in 2008, according to RAE figures, in Edmonton the residential sales volume year-to-date has decreased from almost $5 billion in 2007 to $3.4 billion in 2011; however the number of sales is almost the same, near the 1,450 mark, which means the sales-to-listing ratio is up from 36% to 47%.

 

Sales are taking longer, with the average days on market up at 51 days in 2011 from 30 in 2007.

In Edmonton, the average single family home price shrank from $415,860 in 2007 to $384,656 in 2011. The average condo price went from $274,379 in July 2007 to $224,225 in July 2011.

 

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SouthwestZone 14 -  Brander Gardens, Brookside, Brookeside, Buylea Heights, Carter Cresc, Falconer Heights, Haddow, Henderson Estates, Hodgson, Legar, Ogilvie Ridge.

Zone 15 -  Allendale, Belgravia, Empire Park, Garneau, Grandview Heights, Landsdown, Lendrum Place, Malmo Plains, McKernan, Park Allen, Pleasant View, Queen Alexandra, Strathcona, Windsor Park.

Zone 16 -  Aspen Gardens, Royal Gardens, Rideau Park, Duggan, Greenfield, Westbrook Estate, Sweet Grass, Blue Quill Estates, Steinhauer, Ermineskin, Skyrattler, Keheewin, Twin Brooks, and Bearspaw.

Zone 55 -  Blackburne, MacEwan, and Richford

Zone 56 -  Windermere Estates

Zone 57 -  Woodbend Estatesh

 

Edmonton South West Homes for Sale

Edmonton South West Condos for Sale

 Current Active Listings in South West Edmonton

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Sold Listings in South West Edmonton in July 2011

 

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DOM = Days on the Market

LP = List Price

SP = Sold Price

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According to the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton, the average price of housing increased through July as compared to the previous month. The all-residential average price increased 1.1% to $334,054; up from $330,298 in June. Single family home prices increased 1.3% while condo prices rose 4.3% during the month.

 

Residential sales in July were 1,441 up 3.6% compared to the same time last year. Residential listing activity dropped slightly in July to 3,038 units; down 210 units from June but up 193 units from the same time last year. The inventory of homes on the Multiple Listing Service® is quickly approaching par from last year at 8,421 properties available as of July 31.

 

“Our local housing market is quite healthy with affordable prices, a good inventory and strong sales,” said REALTORS® Association of Edmonton President Chris Mooney. “The selection of properties on the market for buyers is excellent. With employment opportunities popping up throughout the region and interest rates being very attractive, now is a good time to purchase a property in Edmonton.”

 

The average* price of a single family detached home in July was $384,656 with a median price of $360,000. Condo average price was $244,225 with a median of $223,000. Duplex and rowhouse prices rose on average from $296,969 to $309,816, a 4.3% increase.

 

“The increase in housing prices is on track with our January forecast and as we move into fall, we don’t see prices increasing substantially,” said Mooney.

 

The average days-on-market in July was 51 days: the same as in July 2010. The residential sales-to-listing ratio was 47% in July and total MLS® System sales were over $3.887 billion for the year so far.

 

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