Friday, September 21, 2007

Real Estate In Northern Washington State Has Not Seen The Same Downturn The Rest Of The US Has

Real Estate in Northern Washington State has not seen the same downturn the rest of the US has. The reason, Canadian buyers. With the Canadian Dollar at record highs people looking for real estate from the lower mainland and Alberta have turned to cheaper vacation homes in the States. People are buying now for future retirement, as there is no guarantee on the dollar staying strong.
Full Article.

Boomers look south for retirement homesWashington market seeing growing interest

By Monte Stewart - Business EdgePublished: 09/21/2007 - Vol. 7, No. 19
As the loonie remains strong, Canadian homebuyers are flocking south of the border to purchase future retirement homes.

U.S. real estate industry professionals in border locales - particularly in the West - say sales to Canadians are on the rise in recent months as Canuck Baby Boomers buy weekend and summer getaways and investment properties that they will use more during retirement.

Meanwhile, American developers are seeing higher interest from Canadians on projects that are in the works.

"About 70 per cent of our buyers, for the last three, four months have been from Canada - Vancouver in particular," says Mike Kent, a realtor who focuses on Birch Bay, Wash., just south of Vancouver.

Kent, a Birch Bay resident who sells for Blaine, Wash.-based Windermere Real Estate, says Canadian buyers follow a general trend in the U.S., where buyers are purchasing retirement homes now before they get beyond their reach and using the homes as rental properties to offset the cost before they stop working.

"It's made Whatcom County the exception to the downturn in (U.S.) real estate overall," says Kent. "We're experiencing about a four- to five-per-cent increase in average price, versus most areas that are experiencing either flat (numbers) or a decline."

Birch Bay, a popular haven for Vancouverites, was predominantly under Canadian ownership during the 1960s and '70s, but Canadians stayed home in the 1980s and 1990s as the Canuck buck faltered.

Kent, who was born in Portland, Ore., but spent his school-age years in North Vancouver and West Vancouver, says current times are reminiscent of when his family and others took advantage of a Canadian dollar that was then higher than its U.S. counterpart.

"Two things have happened," said Kent. "Your dollar has strengthened against our U.S. dollar. And second-home property options in British Columbia have become so expensive - Kelowna, Victoria and the like - that (buyers) realize they can find houses across the border for typically one-third to one-half of the price of a comparable property there.

"They've learned how to work with the border better, whether it be with a Nexus card (which allows for fast passes through customs) or schedules."

He says the development in which he lives has been able to maintain the same number of sales in a market that has more inventory because of increased Canadian demand. Most deals result from referrals from other Canadians who have lived there.

"It gives them the confidence level that they're looking for," he says. "They're not the first chicken through the fence. That helps a great deal."

Most of the Canadians he deals with are from Vancouver or other parts of B.C. He has had some inquiries from Albertans, but no sales yet.

The increased Canadian interest in homes has also sparked an increase in retail and commercial developments, he adds.

Fred Bovenkamp and Craig Anderson, who are marketing and developing the 200-acre single- and multi-family Horizon project near Birch Bay, say Canadian interest in their project has exceeded their expectations. They base their comments on pre-sale registrations from prospective buyers in advance of sales that launch in October.

"Initially, we didn't think we'd probably see 20 per cent (Canadian ownership)," says Bovenkamp, owner of Bellingham-based FW Bovenkamp Ventures.

"As we see the Canadian dollar strengthening, we see that number changing a little bit. (Because of) the initial feedback that we're getting from people, we hope to get maybe 30 to 40 per cent, if it's possible."

Like Kent, Bovenkamp attributes the higher Canadian interest to lower prices in Washington than B.C. Quarter- and half-acre lot prices in the first phase at Horizon ranged from $288,500 to $538,500.

He says Whatcom County realtors and developers have made "a real marketing push" into Vancouver and other parts of the Lower Mainland and those efforts are now starting to bear results, although it's likely Seattle-area residents will make up the bulk of buyers.

Anderson, marketing director for Pilothouse Real Estate Inc., based in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster, expects the development to appeal to high income-earning Canadians, such as National Hockey League players, who live in the U.S. for tax reasons and must meet minimum annual-residency requirements.

"The border has become less of an issue for people," says Anderson.

Meanwhile, Albertans are also starting to show more interest in Montana, says Peggy Sue Amelon, a realtor with Re/Max of Whitefish.

"I'm noticing a lot more Internet leads coming in from Canada from your 403," says Amelon, referring to the telephone area code for southern Alberta. "I've been getting a lot of that within the last two or three months."

Since Internet leads usually take about a year to carry out, she says not many new Alberta buyers have actually moved into homes in Whitefish yet.

"There's still a bit of a sense that we have a slowdown," she says. "But I do believe that that dollar change is huge as far as bringing Canadians to this area. I've been here 22 years and I know they were kind of a driving force for a lot of the properties here.

"A lot of these older subdivisions in Whitefish were created, in a lot of cases, for vacation properties ... It was typically Canadians who were going to be down here for the summer or winter."

Amelon is waiting to see what effect the stronger loonie will have over the long term.
"The general market is a little nervous right now," says Amelon. "Buyers don't know what they should pay and sellers don't know what they should sell for.

"There's not a lot of confidence in what to do with real estate right now whereas, about three years ago, everybody was buying whatever."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Snap Up Real Estate Has So Much To Offer

Snap Up Real Estate now has 13 province pages and 22 city pages. With each new page added the website grows the available content for the user. The latest additions to the city pages index have been Halifax, Vernon, and Moose Jaw. The current projection is that by the end of 2007 Snap Up Real Estate will have 50 cities available to users.

Also newsworthy is that will soon be launched. The US is a huge market, and we are looking forward to servicing American clients.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Calgary Real Estate Market May Be In Trouble

The Calgary real estate may be in trouble. In the last few month the inventory in the city has been rising at a steady rate, will purchases of real estate have dropped off. The Calgary Herald reports that house prices have plummeted in just one month, and good luck in selling with a growing inventory. Read the Herald article below.

House prices plunge $20,000
Red-hot market chills in August

Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald

Calgary's resale housing market, which has set a scorching pace for the past two years, has dramatically cooled, with the average price for single-family homes plunging by about $20,000 in August, according to a local realtor.

The average sale price dropped primarily because of a decline in the sales of luxury homes, those over a million dollars.

According to preliminary figures from Calgary realtor Bob Truman, of First Place Realty, the average sale price of a single-family home in August was $485,566 -- down from the record high of $505,920 set in July.

The median price dropped in August to $430,000 from $435,000 in July. It was $439,000 in June.

Truman said Wednesday that the average sale price in August was affected by the number of sales in the million-dollar-plus category.

In August, he said, 38 homes sold for more than $1 million at an average sale price of $1.5 million.

This compares with 61 sales in the upper-end market in July with an average sale price of $1.7 million.

Official Multiple Listing Service data for the month of August is expected to be released today by the Calgary Real Estate Board.

"If you get rid of the million-dollar sales . . . and compare them month to month, well August was down $2,000 compared to July," Truman said of the average sale prices for single-family homes.

There were fewer million-dollar sales in August and that skewed the average price, he said.
"But if you look at the median price, it was only down by $5,000 and that means the same thing: there were fewer million-dollar sales."

For August, there were 1,318 sales in the single-family home category while there were 598 sales of condominiums. In August, the average sale price of condos was $320,790 -- a slight increase from the $318,582 in July.

"My guess is that when people see the average price go down so much, they're going to hold off probably on buying until they see it stop, right, and then the floodgates will open again when they see it turn around," said Truman.

According to Truman's website, the average sale price of a single-family home in the past seven days, as of Tuesday, was $480,766 and the average sale price on Sept. 30, 2006, was $426,690.

In Edmonton, where real estate had also been climbing fast, the same sag in the market is being seen.

Edmonton-area home prices fell almost $10,000 in August -- the deepest drop in the city's history.

The $344,792 average, for all forms of housing, was down 2.8 per cent from July.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Real Estate Problems Are Getting Worse In The United States

Real estate problems are getting worse in the United States. Mortgages are being defaulted at a rate never seen before, the this is still the first wave of sub-prime mortgages. The real problems will occur when the meat and potatoes of the sub-prime renewals hit in mid 2008. Hold on for the recession south of the border. Full details.

Mortgage woes push foreclosures to record high
Subprime loan problems seen hitting homeowners

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Homeowners, struggling to deal with sharp increases in their adjustable mortgage payments, got hit with a record number of foreclosure notices in the spring as the crisis in subprime lending intensified.

The problem was the most severe in the industrial Midwest and former housing boom areas such as California and Florida, but economists warned the situation will get worse in coming months as an estimated 2 million adjustable rate mortgages taken out with low introductory interest rates reset to much higher rates.

The crisis is most severe in subprime mortgages, loans provided to borrowers with weak credit, but it is now spreading to other types of mortgages, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

That report showed the number of homeowners who got foreclosure notices in the April-June quarter hit an all-time high of 0.65 percent, up from 0.58 percent in the first three months of the year. It marked the third consecutive quarter that a new record has been set.

The rising defaults in subprime mortgages have roiled global financial markets in recent weeks, sending stock prices on a roller-coaster ride as investors wonder which big bank or hedge fund will be the next to report huge losses from subprime mortgages that were bundled into securities and resold to investors.

Both President Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke tried to calm fears late last week. Bernanke pledged the central bank would “act as needed” to limit any adverse economic effects from the market turmoil.

Bush announced changes in the Federal Home Administration insured-loan program to help combat the expected wave of foreclosures and also answer attacks from Democrats that his administration has been slow to respond to a growing crisis in mortgage foreclosures.

Democrats criticized Bush for not going far enough and vowed to push more aggressive legislation through Congress, not only to help homeowners facing foreclosure but also to attack predatory lending practices they contend led to the crisis.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said the new mortgage delinquency numbers should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and the administration that urgent help is needed. Schumer is seeking $300 million in federal support for nonprofit mortgage counseling groups which he said were “the best defense against the coming storm of foreclosures throughout the country.”

Private economists warned the worst slump in housing in 16 years and the turbulence in financial markets from a resulting serious credit squeeze could push the economy into a recession as more borrowers fall into default, dumping even more homes onto an already glutted market.

“You have a lethal combination of higher mortgage payments, lower house prices, a weaker job market and more cautious lenders,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s “That is a very noxious mix and it is the reason for this surge in foreclosures.”

Zandi put the possibility of a recession at 40 percent, almost four times the possibility he had estimated in July, before the current credit crisis hit.

He said defaults will not peak until next year, reflecting a wave of introductory mortgages that are just now resetting from low “teaser” rates. Those resets can in many cases mean an extra $250 to $300 in higher monthly payments on the typical $1,200 monthly mortgage.
The MBA survey found that the delinquency rate, which tracks the number of people who are behind in their payments but have not yet entered the foreclosure process, was also up sharply during the spring. It rose to 5.12 percent of all loans, the highest level in five years and up from 4.84 percent in the first quarter.

The delinquency rate for subprime loans increased more sharply to 14.82 percent — up from 13.77 percent — in the first quarter. That marked the second-highest subprime delinquency rate on record after a 14.96 percent rate in the spring of 2002.

The delinquency rate for prime loans, offered to borrowers with good credit histories, also increased, but by a much smaller amount. It rose to 2.73 percent, up 2.58 percent in the first quarter.

Doug Duncan, the MBA’s chief economist, said the worsening performance was the result of two major factors — heavy job losses in the Midwest states of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, a region hard hit by heavy losses in the auto industry and other manufacturing industries, and the collapse of previously booming housing markets in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona.

“The percent of mortgages in Ohio that are 90 days or more past due or in foreclosure is still more than twice the national average and 1 percent of all the mortgages in Michigan had foreclosure actions started on them during the last quarter,” Duncan said.

He said there were also significant problems in the neighboring states of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Analysts said the problems in the formerly red-hot housing markets of California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona reflected, in part, speculators walking away from mortgages they can no longer afford. They had jumped into the market during the boom, hoping to take advantage of rapidly rising prices by quickly reselling.

But now with the inventory of unsold homes at record levels, many speculators are defaulting on their mortgages. Those defaults are dumping more homes on an already glutted market.

“With so much supply out there to compete against, borrowers who can’t pay their mortgages are behind the eight-ball,” said Mike Larson, a real estate analyst at Weiss Research. “They can’t sell to get out from under their obligations. As a result, more end up tumbling into foreclosure.”

During the five-year housing boom, which ended last year, prices in the hottest areas surged as investors bid up the price of homes hoping to quickly resell them for a profit. Now with home sales falling, the inventory of unsold homes rising and prices stagnant, some speculators are choosing to default on their mortgages.

Democrats on Wednesday blamed predatory lending practices for a large part of the current problems and said they planned to introduce bills aimed at halting such practices as aggressive marketing of subprime loans to unqualified borrowers.

Federal and state banking regulators issued guidance this week encouraging lending institutions to work with borrowers to restructure loans at more favorable terms rather than foreclosing on the existing mortgages.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Kamloops Real Estate Is Still Thriving

Kamloops Real Estate is still thriving. Today Snap Up Real Estate listed a home in Westsyde for $375,000. This is nearly double what the owner paid for the home 4 years ago. The 2 bedroom townhouse is located in the West Pines Villas on The Dunes golf course. This is a premier adult living community, and the price reflects the prestige. One unit in the complex is currently listed at half a million dollars. The Dunes is also going to be the site for new lots recently opened up along the edge of the course on Harrington Road. Ground breaking has begun on basements for three new homes already.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Real Estate Is Now One Of The Perks Available To New Staff At The University Of Calgary

Real Estate is now one of the perks available to new staff at the University of Calgary. With the real estate market in Calgary being so volatile instructors are looking for that little extra perk. reports that up to $100,000 is being offered to lure new staff. Full Article.

Mortgage perks lure professors to U of C
Interest-free loans help attract faculty

Deborah Tetley
Calgary Herald

University of Calgary recruiters are offering up to $100,000 in housing perks to new faculty faced with the challenge of buying a home in the city's hot real estate market.

Offers of interest-free loans and principle forgiveness on mortgages to new faculty are giving the university an edge in a highly competitive environment to recruit and retain staff, U of C administrators say.

"When candidates are making a comparison between us and another university, we want to make sure we don't lose them to the housing issue," said Alan Harrison, provost and academic vice-president at the university.

Since the plan's development over the past few months, about seven new professors and instructors have taken the university up on the offer -- on that is modelled after similar strategies at the universities of Toronto and British Columbia. The idea is also being considered at other Alberta post-secondary schools.

Harrison said although candidates are generally looking for "the complete employment package," final decisions often come down to real estate.

"People worry about two things," he said. "Market prices as high as they are and volatility.

"We can't do much about volatility, but we can ease the burden and show (candidates) that we understand the quantum difference between housing markets." Late last month the Canadian Real Estate Association forecast record levels of MLS sales across the country this year with Alberta to lead all provinces in the rate of average price growth.

Although aspects of a similar, smaller housing assistance program have been used by U of C in the past, deans now have discretionary spending power -- and larger budgets -- to lure new staff.

Given the university's goal of hiring 500 new faculty by 2010, many recruiters are capitalizing on the program's success.

In the faculty of science, for instance, at least four recent recruits have accepted interest-free loans to buy homes in Calgary.

Dean Sandy Murphree expects several more candidates will be given similar incentives during the next hiring spree, as the budget allows him to make offers to roughly 15 candidates.

"We want to attract the highest quality people and we can not afford to have an issue like personal finances be part of the problem," Murphree said.

Finances were an issue for new recruit Melissa Giovanni, who graduated in June from University of California, Los Angeles with a PhD.

Giovanni, 27, was recruited by the university in October to teach in the geology department.

She was compelled to accept the university's offer for several reasons, including the "competitive" salary and the housing perks.

"I had just got out of grad school," said Giovanni, who started at U of C Aug. 1. "I had no savings and student loans staring me in the face. Without this loan there was no way I would have been able to afford a down payment on a house at this time in my life." Although renting was an option, Giovanni said the prospect of owning a home sealed the deal.

"This will be a huge factor in my happiness for accepting the job at U of C," she said. Officials said the program is still in the "pilot" stage, and will likely be revised as issues crop up.

For now, individual faculties will absorb the loan charges and the university will provide the principle through its bank.

Principle forgiveness will likely be used as a retention strategy, Harrison said. The total benefit package (principle forgiveness and loans) can not exceed $100,000 per faculty recruit.

Anne Stalker, president of the university's faculty association, said the program has not only succeeded in recruitment, but in making salary offers more fair across departments.