Real Estate News, Views, Trends, Market Stats April 2012   

If your teen's heading off to college or university this year, now's the time to start thinking about accommodations.  This month, we discuss the option of purchasing an investment property for them to live in and manage.
We also offer a few kid friendly activities that don't include the almighty flat screen as well as some tips on how to give your home a good spring clean.
Thanks so much for checking out this month's newsletter.  Please let us know if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles or real estate in general -- it would be great to hear from you!

Elke & Michelle

In this issue...
Single Family Homes Fuel Calgary's Housing Growth 
City of Calgary residential sales continued to rise in March 2012, reaching 2,167 units, an increase of 12.6% over last March.
“The rise in activity is related to the continued improvement of our economy and consumer confidence, as some concerns regarding the global economy have eased,” says Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB® chief economist.
After the first quarter of 2012, sales are up by 7.3% over the same time last year.  While the increase is significant, when compared to historic activity, residential sales continue to remain below the long-term trend.

Monthly new listings remain slightly lower than last year, whereas year-to-date figures show 7.2% fewer listings have come onto the market in the first quarter of this year.
“While the number of listings for the first quarter of 2012 remains low compared to last year, the level of decline has lessened,” says Bob Jablonski, president of CREB®; “therefore pointing to the fact that those people who have been on the fence are starting to list their homes, and this trend is expected to continue.”
The year-over-year decline in new listings, combined with improving sales, has pushed down inventory levels to 5,092 units from 5,866 last year, as well as months of supply.  However, as Jablonski notes, “it is not uncommon for the months of supply to decline in March as we transition from the winter season to the spring season.”
Recently, the tightening supply has brought about much discussion of multiple offers on houses.  “It is important to note that multiple offers can happen during any market with a well-priced listing or a unique property,” says Jablonski.

“New listings coming onto the market at a good price are generating a lot of activity, but year-over-year index price growth for the typical home in Calgary in March was 2.9% which is considered a normal range.  Also, the sales-price to list-price ratio does not reflect levels recorded during the peak of the market, when there were supply shortages,” Jablonski adds.
Single family homes continue to record strong activity, with sales increasing by 10.3% at the end of the first quarter.  Meanwhile, quarter totals for listings of single-family homes remain 8.3% lower, resulting in a tightening of supply.  The benchmark price reached $433,500 while the MLS® Home Price Index points towards a price growth of 3.6% compared to last year.
The apartment condominium market continues to exhibit lower sales, with 782 sales recorded in the first quarter of 2012, a decline of 2.1% compared to last year.  However, March sales activity did post a 7.2% gain over last year and is closer in line with typical March sales in this sector.

New listings recorded a year-over-year improvement of 9.1% for the month of March but still remain 2.3% lower than last year at the end of the first quarter.  Despite the monthly rise in new listings, inventories continue to decline.  Overall market conditions continue to favour the buyer.
The condominium apartment and townhouse benchmark price for the month of March was $247,800 and $293,600, respectively.  While the apartment index price has remained relatively stable compared to last year, the condominium townhouse index recorded a modest improvement of 1.96% over last year.
"The single family market continues to lead the housing growth in both sales activity and pricing, and the condominium market appears to have turned the corner as well," Jablonski concludes.  "Overall, the Calgary real estate market continues to move in the right direction, with all indicators pointing towards stable growth and a move towards typical levels of activity."

Buying a College Crib for Your Kid 
There's an air of excitement when your kids move out to study at college or university.  It can however be very expensive!  Purchasing an investment property for your child to live in and manage can be a great way to offset those expenses.
With interest rates at historic lows, it's a great time to finance an investment property but you'll still need to evaluate both the local market conditions and your long-term plans.  It's important to determine whether you plan on renting it out after your child graduates as this will affect the rate of  appreciation.
The idea is to cover the mortgage payments with the rent collected from roommates while your child manages and maintains the property.  You'll have someone on site to cut the grass and perform other general types of maintenance as well as collect the rent.  These chores can be performed in return for a reduction of their rent.
Ensure you thoroughly investigate the local real estate market and check out zoning laws regarding rentals.  Specific purchasing details such as co-signing the mortgage or listing your child on title should be discussed with your financial planner and mortgage advisor.  There are pros and cons to different ownership scenarios so you'll want to examine what makes sense for your individual situation.
Purchasing an investment property that's managed by your child is not a decision that should be taken lightly but it's certainly an option worth considering.  Just make sure you do your homework so you're able to carefully weigh up the risks and rewards.  When you crunch the numbers, you may well find that purchasing a campus crib makes great sense!

Inspiring Ideas to Help Unplug Your Kids 
Children rely on video games more than ever before so it's not easy to come up with new ideas to amuse them.  Here are a few activities that will ignite their creativity:

  1. Make a Personal Puzzle - Cut an old photo into various different pieces and have them put it back together again.

  2. Egg & Spoon Race - Give your children a spoon and an egg and see how quickly they can cross the finish line without dropping it.

  3. Build a Fort - Drape blankets over chairs to create a cool fort.  Once they're comfortable in their new abode, drop by with some 'fort warming' snacks.

  4. Cache In - Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game!  Participants register online and then try and find the hidden cache with the help of a GPS device.

  5. And...Action! - Putting on a play is a great way to exercise a child's imagination.  They can take turns writing, acting, designing costumes and even filming.

It's often the simple things that stand out in a child's memory and sharing these special times with them will allow you to feel like a kid again too!  Keep a special diary to record fun conversations and always make sure to have a camera on hand so you can treasure the moments forever.

Spring New Life Into Your Home 
Spring has finally sprung which means fresh scents, chirping birds and new life in the garden!  It's time to bring that spring fresh feeling into your home but before you open up the windows and roll up your sleeves, here are a few tips:

  • create a spring clean checklist that involves the entire family
  • clean one room at a time so you're not overwhelmed
  • rejuvenate your houseplants by putting them in the shower
  • throw out any expired items you come across
  • vacuum and flip your mattresses and clean under the beds

With a clean, fresh home under your belt, you'll be all set to enjoy the summer months that are just around the corner.  So what are you waiting for?  Open up the windows, turn on the music and get started!


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