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Another increase for agricultural real estate values in 2017



(File photo)


For the fourteenth year in a row, agricultural real estate values in Alberta have increased. Ryan Furtas, input market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) takes a closer look at Agricultural Real Estate Values and Transfer for 2017.

“No surprise here,” says Furtas. “The provincial value per acre increased by $312 per acre from 2016 to nearly $2,900 per acre in 2017 – a growth of 12 per cent. The rate of growth most recently occurred in 2014 and 2012, but the $312 per acre increase to the provincial average is unprecedented in the 21 year data set.”

The higher value land is generally associated with high productivity, proximity to urban centres, or the QE2 corridor between Calgary and Edmonton. Adds Furtas, “However, counties with access to irrigation such as Newell and Warner achieved top value at approximately $5,900 per acre. “

Furtas says that the number of transactions and volume of acres sold are connected and have been steadily decreasing. “Surprisingly though, the number of acres sold and number of transactions both increased. In 2017, just over 300,000 acres were sold, up 8.5 per cent from 2016. However, the 2017 number of acres sold is very close to the 5 and 10 year average of number. Leading the way were the counties of Beaver, Flagstaff, Grande Prairie, Mackenzie and Northern Lights, and they were all trading around 10,000 acres per county.”

The 2017 average number acres trading hands for each municipality was approximately 4,500 acres, adds Furtas. “The number of transactions in 2017 was just over 2000, nearly identical to the 10 year average. It was 10 per cent greater than the 2016 number, and the counties of Beaver, Flagstaff, Grande Prairie, Northern Lights, and Mackenzie represented the upper echelon of transactions.”

“I can’t help but make comparisons to 2012 and 2014,” says Furtas. “Both years had a similar dollar per acre increase but that was matched by less acres for sale. In 2017, a strong increase in the dollar per acre amount was matched with an increase in available acres and sellers.”

“There has been very few increases in the number of acres sold and transactions. The 2017 numbers come very close to the 10 year average which points to 2016 being more of an outlier when it comes to number of acres sold and transacted,” says Furtas.

Furtas says that the dollar per acre value increase of $312 is the largest dollar per acre increase seen in the 20 year data set. “The Alberta average per acre price is creeping up on $3000 per acre mark. The number of acres and sellers – despite an uptick in 2017 – are generally decreasing when analyzing over the longer term.”

The statistic section at AF develops and publishes Agricultural Real Estate trades that occur in each of the 70 rural Alberta municipalities. This data can be beneficial for producers trying to determine agricultural land values. Says Furtas, “The regionalized data includes a per acre dollar value for all the sales in the municipality, as well as the number of acres traded and how many transactions occurred. Each transaction is classified and organized according to the Canadian Land Inventory rating system. The rating system categorizes land by its productivity, allowing producers to make comparisons to land of similar productive capability outside of the local area.”

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Real Estate

Letters: Real estate not major player in money laundering




A for sale sign displays a sold home in a housing development in Ottawa on July 6, 2015. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says Canada's housing sector is facing a high degree of vulnerability to market instability for the eighth straight quarter.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Re: B.C. targeting real estate in dirty money crusade, July 30

It seems no one is willing to challenge the distortions Attorney-General David Eby is presenting to discredit the real estate industry.

His latest campaign is that the real estate industry is somehow culpable for money laundering in real estate transactions. Eby would be setting his sights more accurately and productively if he pursued the major transporters of money into real estate transactions. The only money handled by real estate agents is the deposit — usually less than 10 per cent. Most of the money flows through notary and law offices. Anything more than $10,000 in deposit has to be reported to Fintrac. The law also requires that Fintac be alerted to any suspicious transactions. So what are the lawyers doing to meet this requirement? Consider that lawyers are often far more involved in their client’s affairs, far more frequently and with far more substantial amounts of money.

Eby recently wrote about reporting irregularities by the real estate industry to Fintrac. While the number of firms audited found not to be in compliance was high, few were more than clerical errors or considered significant enough to warrant serious disciplinary measures. So what is the fuss? Clearly, it is all political. The fact is that the real estate industry is ruled by law and regulation. If these laws and regulations are inadequate, we rely on government to legislate. So do your job, David Eby.

Doug Bodaly, Nanaimo

Drug users shouldn’t get free ride from taxpayers

Re: Getting us out of the overdose epidemic will require bold action from government, Opinion, Aug. 9

In his oped piece about the overdose crisis, Jordan Westfall’s solution is to give all drug users “safer prescription heroin.” He argues that “drugs are not the problem here,” and that “we need a government that respects our human rights.”

You may not be surprised that the writer of these opinions is the executive director of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs.

Well, I agree. It is the writer’s choice in a free country to take on the identity of Someone Who Uses Drugs. 

But what about my choices to watch Netflix or collect Ford Thunderbirds or buy new Italian leather shoes every year in Milan. I am also free to have those indulgences.

Oh, but there is one small difference. I am not asking, or demanding, that hard-working Canadian citizens pay for my amusements.

I respect the writer’s choice to be a guy who uses drugs. Carry on, dear fellow. I just don’t understand the leap of non-thinking that suggests I owe him a free ride.

And by the way, if he is indeed the executive director of this association, is he being paid? And by whom? Which completely lost-at-sea department of which bureaucracy has legitimized this lunacy?

David Berner, Vancouver 

Thompson Rivers committed to academic freedom

Re: B.C. government urged to investigate Kamloops professor’s dismissal, Aug. 13

We felt your readers should be aware of information provided by Thompson Rivers University to The Vancouver Sun which the paper chose not to include in its recent story.

Whilst privacy laws limit what we can say about individuals in our employ, TRU can confirm the faculty member at the centre of your coverage remains employed — the original headline indicated the individual was dismissed.

Additionally, TRU provided a brief statement to the reporter of which only a portion was included in your story. For the benefit of your readers, we have included the full statement, as we feel this is critical information for the public given the debate that is occurring”

“TRU is not commenting on this matter directly for the same reasons provided to Douglas Todd. We are legally bound to protect the personal and private information of employees.

“However, it’s important to know that TRU is committed to academic freedom and the independent research activities of its faculty. This is the bedrock of Canadian universities — that we provide and promote an environment where the thoughtful exchange of ideas and research is cultivated.”

Christine Bovis-Cnossen, Provost and Vice-President Academic, Thompson Rivers University

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Real Estate

This Week's Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Sales Fall, While Second Mortgages Rise Across The Country




Time for your weekly cheat sheet on this week’s most important stories.

Canadian Real Estate

Over 1 In 10 Mortgages Issued In Canada Are On An Already Mortgaged Home

The Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) found that multiple mortgages on the same home is on the rise. Analysts counted 145,013 new loans on already mortgaged homes in Canada, up 4.16% from the year before. That’s 15.12% of all mortgage originations, or over 1 in 10 mortgages in Canada.

Read More

Canadian Households See Borrowing Costs Rise To Highest Levels Since 2011

The cost of borrowing is on the rise across Canada. The BoC  effective rate increased to 3.77% at the end of July, up 18.55% from the same month last year. The effective rate is a blended rate that reflects rates consumers are likely to face in the real world. This is the highest level we’ve seen since May 2011, and the fastest increase we’ve seen in a very long time.

Read More

Teranet: Canadian Real Estate Prices Continue To Decelerate, Smallest Growth Since 2009

The Teranet-National Bank of Canada House Price Index (Teranet HPI) shows higher prices across the country. The C11, an aggregate of prices in the country’s largest markets, increased 0.78% in July. This represents an increase of 1.75% from the same time last year. The good news it’s positive, the bad news is those numbers are much slower than usual. The average increase for July has been 1%, and the annual increase is the smallest we’ve seen since 2009. Canadian real estate prices are so far trailing historic performance.

Read More

Toronto Real Estate Sales Lead Canada For Growth, BC Leads The Declines

Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) numbers show that real estate sales continue to drop across Canada. Unadjusted sales fell to 41,872 in July, down 1.71% compared to last year. Only 3 markets saw sales increase in July, and the majority of declines were in BC. Fraser Valley, Vancouver, and Victoria are now home to the fastest falling sales in Canada.

Read More

Toronto Real Estate

Toronto Condos Squeeze Out The Smallest Price Change Since August To Print New High

Toronto condo prices moved higher in July to print a new all-time high. The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reported the City of Toronto condo benchmark reached $530,200, up $900 from the month before. More interesting, this is the smallest price increase since last August.

Read More

Vancouver Real Estate

Vancouver Condo Inventory Jumps 66%, Largest Monthly Price Decline Since 2012

Vancouver condos saw prices slide, as inventory surged. REBGV reported the price of a typical condo reached $700,500 in July, down 0.5% from the month before. That was accompanied by sales sliding 26.5% from last year, and inventory surging 66.96% from the same time. Lower sales, higher inventory, and lower prices – makes sense.

Read More

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BitCondo: Is cryptocurrency the future of real estate?




When you’re in the market for a new home, you probably have a lot of things on your mind: square footage, school districts, mortgages rates.

One thing you’re probably not spending much time thinking about: Bitcoin.

But perhaps cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will soon be a major consideration for property purchasers and sellers.

At least that’s what some Boulder County real estate professionals are gearing up for.

“Blockchain and cryptocurrency really has the ability to change every aspect of real estate, from titles, to lending, to the brokerage itself,” said Jim Merrion, a Boulder real estate agent with Coldwell Banker.

Anthony Meisner, sales manager with Land Title Guarantee Company, addressing the DISCON Distributed Consensus conference at the Boulder Theater Aug. 3. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

Merrion, along with Anthony Meisner with Boulder’s Land Title Guarantee Company, are preaching the gospel of the blockchain and encouraging real estate industry professionals and clients to embrace the technology.

“This (technology) is finally mainstream enough in the real estate community that people are really talking about it and considering the implications and benefits,” Meisner said.

Block-what? Crypto-who?

Simply put, cryptocurrency — the most famous and valuable example is bitcoin — is a form of verifiable and transferrable digital money that exists independent of centralized banks.

The blockchain is technology that uses large computer networks to create a decentralized ledger or database that tracks activities such as the transfer of bitcoin.


Merrion said he first dipped his toe into the crytocurrency pool in about 2012 when he bought a couple of bitcoins.

“I bought it as a lark and sold it way too early,” he said. “I just thought it was an interesting idea.”

The cryptocurrency market has been on a wild ride since Merrion bought those first tokens, with the value of coins in a seemingly endless cycle of skyrockets and crashes punctuated by temporary periods of stabilization.

Despite the peaks and valleys, some see this technology as the future not only of currency, but also of a host of business applications.

“A lot of smart business people are using this technology to tackle really important things like real estate,” said Alan Curtis, a former Innosphere employee who last year founded Radar Relay in Fort Collins. Radar Relay is a wallet-to-wallet cryptocurrency exchange technology firm.

The use of cryptocurrency also opens up local markets — such as real estate in Boulder County — to a global pool of customers and investors.

“At the end of the day, there are people all over the world that you want to do business with, people all over the world that you want to interact with,” Charles Hoskinson said at a cryptocurrency conference in Boulder earlier this month.

Hoskinson leads the blockchain platform Cardano, which hosts the Ada cryptocurrency, and has been involved with the founding of a host of other well-known cryptocurrency technologies, including Ethereum.

“We’ve gone from siloed, isolated economies that were paper-based and basically designed in the 19th century or before to economies that are highly globalized,” he told DISCON conference attendees.

Alan said, “The idea of global access is critical.”

Blockchain technology could help make the process of buying or selling a home more efficient by streamlining the titling process and eliminating the need to shuttle documents to and from the county clerk’s office, experts say.

The transparency afforded by the blockchain can also help reduce the potential for fraud “and really move the needle to help people realize we can have a more secure environment,” Merrion said.

A Front Range first

Merrion listed a two-bedroom townhouse in Arvada earlier this summer. With mentions of easy access to highways, recently replaced windows and quartz countertops, the listing is much like any other.

Jim Merrion a Boulder real estate agent with Coldwell Banker speaking to the DISCON Distributed Consensus conference at the Boulder Theater in Boulder

Jim Merrion a Boulder real estate agent with Coldwell Banker speaking to the DISCON Distributed Consensus conference at the Boulder Theater in Boulder Colorado on Friday August 3, 2018 (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

But there’s a phrase that sets the listing apart: “Traditional financing, Bitcoin & other Cryptocurrency accepted!”

“As far as any of us can tell and from all the research we’ve done, this is the first” property along the Front Range to be marketed on a major multiple listing service as accepting cryptocurrency, Meisner said.

Merrion quickly found a buyer for the Arvada home who opted for the traditional financing model, but he plans to continue marketing homes to cryptocurrency holders.

“It is part and parcel of my discussion with clients,” he said. “The industry is headed this way and I certainly don’t want to be left behind.”

Once Merrion brings together a buyer and seller, Meisner and Land Title can step in to help facilitate the transaction.

“We serve as neutral third-party,” Meisner said. “So if there are questions that arise, we can refer people to attorneys, refer people to cryptocurrency experts.”

Even if Merrion were to find a buyer interested in using cryptocurrency to buy a home, bank regulations require those coins to be liquidated before a purchase. However, if a seller owns the home outright without a mortgage or lien, a peer-to-peer purchase can be made without turning the coins into cash first.

“Some parties don’t want to have to liquidate their coins” and would prefer a peer-to-peer transaction to minimize frictional costs such as fees and slippage, Meisner said.

The first peer-to-peer bitcoin real estate transaction occurred late last year in Miami, according to multiple media reports from December.

Meisner and Merrion say it is only a matter of time until that kind of deal is made in Colorado.

“I would say it’s possible” there will be a peer-to-peer transaction in Colorado this year and “it’s probably very likely next year,” Meisner said.

He added: “We would really like to be the first.”

Lucas High: 303-684-5310, or

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