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Alberta home sales down in October — but these local markets saw gains

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Sales activity in Alberta remains sluggish as Calgary and Edmonton struggle, but some smaller markets gained ground last month, numbers reported by the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) suggest.

While the 4,203 units that changed hands in the province last month on the resale market account for a 12-percent drop from last year, increases were observed in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, and Central Alberta.

“However, it is only Grande Prairie that has seen sales return to levels that are more consistent with long-term averages,” reads a statement posted to the Canadian Real Estate Association’s webpage for AREA. Following another monthly increase this October, year-to-date activity in Grande Prairie is up 21 percent year-over-year to a total of 2,352 home sales. The average price for October was $310,534.

Although activity in Central Alberta’s largest market, Red Deer, has been inching lower in recent months, sales are up 2 per cent annually. So far this year, home sales have climbed to 3,441 units, while the average price for a Central Alberta home was $288,924.

Fort McMurray has seen gains for seven straight months, including last month. But activity is still off long-term averages by 27 percent. From January to the end of October, 1,057 home sales have been recorded. Last month, Fort McMurray’s average home sale price hit $374,360.

Amid weakened employment prospects, concerns about the energy sector, and competition from new homes, Calgary and Edmonton’s markets continue to see sales totals well below previous highs.

No Alberta market has seen a bigger sales pullback than Calgary. This year, sales are down 13 percent in the city that has been hit with higher unemployment due to the faltering energy sector. According to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey, Calgary’s unemployment rate is 8.4 percent. Home values have remained on a downward trajectory, and in October the benchmark price of a home there was $426,300, a decline of 2.9 percent from a year ago, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board.

The Edmonton Region also saw a double-digit, year-over-year fall in sales. Sales totalled 1,399 for October, down 11 percent. Meantime, the average home price was $362,563. “Oversupply has been weighing on prices in Edmonton for most of the year,” reads the CREA webpage. “The year-to-date average price has eased by nearly two per cent compared to last year.

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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