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Redfin shares down nearly 7% after company casts doubt on real-estate market

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Shares of Redfin Corp.

RDFN, +2.07%

fell nearly 7% late Thursday after the real-estate brokerage beat quarterly expectations but forecast slower revenue growth in the third quarter. Redfin said it earned $3.2 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with $4.3 million in the year-ago period. Revenue increased 36% year-over-year to $142.6 million, compared with $105 million a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 2 cents a share on sales of $139 million. "We’re now forecasting slower revenue growth for the third quarter based on an unexpected drop in Redfin’s bookings growth in the past three weeks, slowing traffic growth in a weakening real estate market," Chief Executive Glenn Kelman said at a post-results conference call. Redfin called for third-quarter revenue between $137.1 million and $141.3 million. The analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast revenue of $141.5 million. In a separate press release, Redfin said it has deepened its investment in Redfin Now, where the company buys homes directly, expanding the program to a third market, Orange County, Calif. Redfin had piloted Redfin Now in California’s Inland Empire in January 2017, and expanded it to San Diego in June of last year. Redfin shares ended the regular session up 2.1%.

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Why An Oklahoma City Real Estate Development Scored A Prestigious Preservation Award

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The Douglass at Page Woodson in Oklahoma City won a 2018 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award.Photo by Justin Clemons Photography / Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The sun rises over the Douglass at Page Woodson like it does over all apartment buildings in Oklahoma City. Dishwashers are running. A child plays in the courtyard. A cat curls up on the couch. These activities aren’t unique. The difference being, they’re occurring at a prestigious historic preservation award winner.

At the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s PastForward 2018 conference in San Francisco this month, the Douglass at Page Woodson was presented with a Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award, one of only three awardees chosen from a juried competition of 50 nominations. The annual awards recognize historic preservation efforts that demonstrate excellence in execution and a positive impact on the vitality of their cities and towns.

In a released statement, President and CEO Stephanie Meeks of the National Trust said, the vacant-school-turned-affordable-housing-development is “remarkable not just for its historic and architectural character, but for the many ways it puts community first.”

Situated in northeast Oklahoma City at the corner of 6th and High, Douglass High School was the city’s first facility during legalized segregation to serve as a high school for African Americans citywide. Named commemoratively for Frederick Douglass, whose name has graced schools in the vicinity from before statehood up to present day, the school’s tenure at this spot lasted from 1934 to 1955. Prior to Douglass, the original building housed Lowell School, an all-white elementary. To become the 90,000-square-foot, full-service high school for Douglass, the site underwent substantial expansion, almost ten times the size of the former elementary building, with additions for classroom space, a gymnasium and auditorium.

The courtyard at the Douglass at Page Woodson.Photo by Justin Clemons Photography / Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

During segregation, when the remainder of the city was not freely open, Douglass High School took on even more importance as a community gathering place for African-American students, educators, and parents. Some of Oklahoma City’s most acclaimed citizens called Douglass High School home, including principals Inman E. Page and Frederick D. Moon, and Zelia Page Breaux, the school’s first music teacher and director of the band, to name a few.

Architectural Significance

Built in 1910, the original elementary school building was designed in the Classical Revival style by architect Solomon Layton and his firm, known in circles as the state’s premier architect of his era, and whose influence on Oklahoma City was extensive. The red brick and limestone building is three stories in height in a rectangular footprint. Facing westward toward downtown, it’s perched on a knoll above the sidewalk where, from the beginning, a concrete retaining wall stands, as if raising up the edifice, analogous to the role of public education advancing pupils.

Layton’s later firm also designed the transformative additions built in 1934 for Douglass High School. The expansions on the north and south extended eastward, embracing the city block in a U-shaped footprint. Deftly matching masonry materials between two eras, and fusing the earlier building’s Classical Revival style with the contemporary Art Deco—which in itself was an intentional break with revival precedents—Layton’s firm maturely illustrated its artistry with time. Douglass High School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

For the historic rehabilitation of the Douglass at Page Woodson, Smith Dalia Architects served as architect of record. Based in Atlanta, Smith Dalia began their connection with Oklahoma City on the mixed-use redevelopment of the 1923 Layton-designed Masonic Temple, which later was home to the Journal Record newspaper. The Heritage, as the redevelopment is known, is directly adjacent to the Oklahoma National Memorial.

“The privilege of working on the Heritage led to our introduction to developer Ron Bradshaw and the Page Woodson project,” recalled Julie Dalia, marketing manager at Smith Dalia.

After the board of education closed the Page Woodson school facility in 1993, the next 20 years saw the property suffer the severity of vandalism, fires and weather damage. The building needed sensitive treatment to retain as much historic fabric while converting the space into apartments, including the restoration of the Art Deco auditorium. Smith Dalia brought a meticulous approach to assure certified historic tax credits would assist in financing the repurposing of this community asset.

A vestibule at the Douglass at Page Woodson.Photo by Justin Clemons Photography / Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

To contribute to the apartment unit total, a value proposition, Smith Dalia innovated by creating an additional floor level inside the former gymnasium. “Threading a new steel structure to support the floor, unseen, from the basement through one level without impacting the existing structure required close coordination between architect, structural engineer and contractor,” said lead architect Amanda Warr of Smith Dalia. “This type of teamwork resulted in tremendous satisfaction in being able to pass the National Park Service tax credit review and still end up with 60 historically-rich, affordable apartments and a community auditorium.”

Inside the building and out, the unique artisanal detailing is what drew its restoration close to an architect’s heart. “Limestone ornamentation consisting of stone window surrounds, stone coping on the parapet wall; stone pilasters with decorative capitals between windows; stone lintels and spandrels with decorative medallions on all façades, and more, showed the love that the builders put into this building,” Warr said.

“To be at the heart of this extremely comprehensive restoration process, relying on the combined years of expertise from preservation experts at Smith Dalia, and to have it all come together was an unforgettable experience. We felt we were truly communicating with the past.”

Affordability And Income

The Douglass at Page Woodson is 60 units of affordable housing, with studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The apartments are accessible to residents who earn up to 60% of the area median income adjusted for household size.

According to the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency, area median income (AMI) for the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Statistical Area in Oklahoma County is $67,300. A household of four making 60% of adjusted AMI equates to $40,380. For a household of one making 60% of AMI, that’s $28,320. At time of press, rents marketed on the Douglass at Page Woodson website for a studio, one-and two-bedroom are $645, $685 and $820 per month, respectively.

Allure Of The Auditorium

As part of the 1934 additions, a special feature endeared the community to Douglass High School, and afterward to F.D. Moon Junior High and Page Woodson School: the auditorium. Physically restoring the auditorium and its Art Deco architecture proved no small feat, since it had decayed in dormancy for more than a generation. Restoring activity to the auditorium involves reconnecting to the neighborhood and beyond, not unlike its heyday.

Douglass High School was a draw for many guests who traveled across the country for musical and theatrical productions, as well as addresses on social justice, politics and literature. This legacy included visits from jazz legend Duke Ellington, singer Marian Anderson, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. The auditorium also hosted performances by Douglass alumni Charlie Christian, Jimmy Rushing and Ralph Ellison.

The auditorium at the Douglass at Page Woodson.Photo by Justin Clemons Photography / Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The Auditorium at the Douglass is leased and managed by Progress OKC, a community development corporation. Progress OKC believes the auditorium is on its way to becoming a versatile community center, to serve as a performing arts venue, but also a gathering place for education, celebrations and civic engagement. Although the space has been restored as part of the development, expenses remain to turn it into a top performing arts venue. Progress OKC is leading the $500,000 fundraising campaign to which the public may contribute.

“Progress OKC is actively fundraising for the auditorium’s audio and visual equipment,” said Executive Director Neila Crank-Clements. “We have received generous support from local foundations and individuals, but need to raise $180,000 more in order to meet the goal.”

Award-Winning Development

The Driehaus Foundation Award continues the honors bestowed on the development, a joint venture by Colony Partners and SCG Development. Other awards include:

2018 – ULI Oklahoma IMPACT Award – Large Scale Rehabilitation & Restoration

2018 – Oklahoma Historical Society/SHPO – State Historic Preservation Officer’s Citation of Merit

2017 – AIA Georgia Residential Design Award – Adaptive Use

2017 – Apartment Association of Central Oklahoma – Renovation of the Year

Developer Ron Bradshaw of Colony Partners said, “When we began, back in 2013, we had no idea this would turn out to be an award-winning project at all. We did it to respect the past and revitalize the present, by providing housing choices.”

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Bradshaw and his son, Jason Bradshaw, secured the site in 2013, working in conjunction with the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. The Bradshaws proceeded to invest a year of honest dialogue with neighbors in the John F. Kennedy neighborhood and city officials. After the community’s and design team’s input, the objective was set to save the old Douglass High School building, repurpose the space to become affordable apartments, and utilize excess space, like the auditorium, for community programming.

The Douglass at Page Woodson is the nucleus of new multifamily housing investment in the JFK neighborhood, increasing the supply of quality rental units. In addition to the 60 affordable units at the Douglass, the joint venture partners also developed on the same block the logically-named the Douglass Next Door, which provides 68 affordable apartments. To the north across Northeast 6th Street, the Seven at Page Woodson is 80 units of new-build, market-rate apartments.

This density of residential development at Page Woodson is located just south of major employers like the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the Children’s Hospital and Oklahoma City VA Health Care System. It’s also within minutes from commerce and entertainment options in Bricktown, Deep Deuce and downtown.

For the $32 million Douglass and Douglass Next Door, the Bradshaws partnered with SCG Development, a leading national tax credit developer. The project used federal historic tax credits, and affordable housing tax credits and multifamily bonds through the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency. Additional project financing was provided by Wells Fargo, Freddie Mac, Arvest Bank and Oklahoma City.

“I’m a developer,” Bradshaw simply put it. “I like being a developer.”

About the waterfall of awards, the demure Bradshaw attributed credit to his partners, project team members, the neighborhood, alumni, lenders, and city, state and federal government.

“I was just the instrument.”

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Chinese inquiries up for Calgary's residential real estate

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Chinese real estate search engine Juwai has noted an increase in searches for homes in Calgary.


Leah Hennel / Postmedia

Inquiries by Chinese buyers into the Calgary real estate market have jumped dramatically over the past year, according to figures compiled by the Juwai.com website, which bills itself as the largest Chinese international real estate search engine.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Real Estate Board says Chinese investors haven’t yet made an impact on sales statistics. But some realtors say sales to buyers from the People’s Republic of China have been significant for them.

Juwai CEO Carrie Law says Chinese inquiries into the Calgary market were up 50 per cent in the third quarter, from the second quarter of 2018, and increased 200 per cent above the third quarter of 2017. But she says actual numbers of inquiries are proprietary.

Law says an uptick in inquiries is typically reflected in sales increases within six to nine months, but she has no figures on the rate at which inquiries are converted to sales. Chinese investment has been a driving force in the high-priced Toronto and Vancouver markets but it’s clearly not yet a defining factor in the Calgary market place.

“Chinese demand in Calgary is higher than it has ever been,” Law says. “This is a long-term growth trend. For Chinese buyers, Calgary is the essence of everything good about Canada. Calgary is a full-fledged city with international connections and good schools, but it’s small enough to be very livable and to not suffer from congestion or pollution. It’s one of the five most livable cities in the world,” she notes.

In fact, after nine years placing fifth in the Economist Group rankings of the world’s most livable cities, Calgary was elevated to fourth place in the 2018 survey.

Law says 73 per cent of Chinese buyers interested in Calgary reported buying for their own use and many of those were families placing children into Canadian schools.

“They often feel the Chinese school system is excessively test-based and stressful,” she says. “They want their children to have an education that lets them develop their whole personality and not just their test-taking skills.”

Calgary realtor Jessica Chan, who speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin, says the Juwai figures square with her experience. In an e-mail exchange she reported selling more than 30 single-family homes and condo apartments to buyers from the People’s Republic of China, whose primary interest was a location with a good school.

Law says Ontario and British Columbia taxes on foreign real estate buyers have also served to divert interest from Toronto and Vancouver toward Calgary. This year, B.C. raised its tax on foreign real estate investors to 20 per cent from 15, while Ontario imposed a 15 per cent tax this year. Despite the tax impact, Calgary currently ranks fifth in Canada for inquiries by Chinese buyers, behind Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, Law says.

Paul Lien, managing partner of Beijing-based PCI Executive Search Consultants, bought a condo in Vancouver in 2002 and his children grew up there. He continues to live and work in Beijing and family members travel between Canada and China. His son and daughter, both Canadian citizens, now both work in Calgary and his son recently bought three small condo apartments in Calgary.

“Buying the apartments is a means of enforced savings for him,” the father says of his son’s Calgary investment.

Lien says he’s not aware of any sudden preference for Calgary among investors in his country, but he sees the logic of such a shift.

“The price of real estate is still comparatively low, in contrast to Vancouver and Toronto,” he says, and there’s greater room for price appreciation in Calgary. He adds that the Alberta government is also more “investment-friendly.”

Len Wong, a prominent Calgary realtor, says he saw more purchases by offshore Chinese buyers in 2016 and 2017 than in 2018. Consistent with the Juwai report, he says, it was mostly on the part of middle-class people buying homes for their own use, not wealthy investors buying multiple properties.

“There’s no question there was some interest. We had a lot of lookers online and when they did buy, they bought in ‘Asian’ communities,” predominantly Country Hills and West Hills, he says. Those looking for investment properties felt the value in Calgary was very good, but mid-term appreciation potential wasn’t competitive with some other Canadian markets. He says Montreal has tended to offer the best combination of price and potential for appreciation over the past 18 months.

Ann-Marie Lurie, economist with CREB, says the board doesn’t keep data on off-shore home buyers and its only information on the subject is purely anecdotal.

“Some people have said there are Chinese investors … but it’s not showing up on the retail side,” Lurie said. The citywide benchmark price of homes was down 2.9 per cent, year-over-year, to $426,300 in October, marking the fifth straight month of decline by that measure. CREB relates sluggish sales to a stubbornly high city unemployment rate of 8.2 per cent through August and September. That’s a reduction from 9.3 per cent unemployment in April but still leaves Calgary with the highest jobless rate among major Canadian cities.

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Montreal real estate: Radon testing now recommended when buying a home

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It’s simple and inexpensive to find out whether your home — or a home you hope to buy — has a radon problem.


Prospective buyers are urged to add radon levels to the list of things to ask about when making an offer on a home.


Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

The leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers is an invisible, odourless and tasteless radioactive gas present at dangerously high levels in as many as one in 10 homes in Quebec.

Radon is a common, naturally occurring gas released by the breakdown of uranium in soil. It enters homes through cracks in the foundation, gaps around service points, and other places where there are openings near to the ground.

At low levels, radon gas is not harmful, but in higher concentrations, it can be harmful to lung health over time.

According to Health Canada, radon exposure is responsible for about 16 per cent of lung cancers and more than 3,200 deaths each year, or about eight deaths per day.

Radon is a known risk. But the good news is, it’s simple and inexpensive to find out whether your home — or a home you hope to buy — has a radon problem. It’s also not as expensive as you might think to remediate the problem.

The only way to tell if a home has high levels of radon is to test, which is why Health Canada and the Canadian Association of Radon Technologists (CARST) recommend that all home owners should either purchase a do-it-yourself test kit or hire a professional to measure radon levels within their homes.

According to CARST spokesperson Erin Curry, radon exposure kills more people every year than motor vehicle collisions, drownings, house fires and carbon monoxide combined.

“We wear our seatbelts and change our batteries in our smoke detectors, but very few of us — only six per cent of Canadians — have tested their homes for radon,” Curry said.

The test can be done for less than $50 using an inexpensive home test kit available online or in home improvement stores (there is a list of reputable suppliers at takeactiononradon.ca, a website created by CARST and the Canadian Cancer Society).

The kit measures radon levels within a home over three months, ideally during the winter season. At the end of the test period, the device is mailed to a lab, and the homeowner is given a report that indicates whether radon remediation is required.

If the test comes back indicating that there may be high levels of radon in a home, it doesn’t mean the home’s a lemon. In Canada, radon remediation costs about $3,000 on average, and the good news is, once you do ante up for radon remediation, it’s typically a one-time fix.

“I think that a lot of people are scared to test,” Curry said. “They think if the test comes back high it’ll be super expensive and super complicated. But it is nice for people to know there is a solution to the problem. It is proven, and it is relatively inexpensive.”

On Nov. 15, CARST released new guidelines for realtors and homeowners urging sellers to have their homes tested and buyers to add radon levels to the list of things to ask about when making an offer on a home.

Realizing a three-month testing period may be impractical to complete within the normal process of clearing subjects on a promise to purchase, CARST has come up with new recommendations for a quicker, albeit less accurate, test that can be completed within four days and indicates whether a home is likely to have annual radon levels above the safe threshold of 200 Bq/m3.

If the quick test shows a home may have high levels of radon, it doesn’t mean the buyer needs to walk away from the deal. Instead, CARST recommends buyers make an offer at a price that reflects the likely cost of radon remediation, just as they would for another major repair, and plan on conducting the full three-month test after moving in to determine the actual level of risk.

Curry said remediation usually takes no more than a day, and should be done by an accredited professional. The fix can be as simple as sealing cracks around the base of a home to prevent the gas from seeping in, but often requires installing an active soil depressurization system, which has been shown to reduce home radon levels by as much as 91 per cent.

For more information on radon, visit canada.ca/radon

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