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Calgary's struggling high-end real estate market sees 'complete turnaround' – The Globe and Mail



Homes marketed by Arch House. Currently for sale, 1A House.Hayden Pattullo

Last summer, Mark Erickson and his partners at Calgary design-build firm Studio North decided to sell the Withrow House, an award-winning heritage property the team renovated in the northwest of the city.

Dissatisfied with traditional methods of listing real estate, they decided to market the house themselves. “When we sold the Withrow House, we really put out the story,” Mr. Erickson says. “We put our blood, sweat and tears into building and designing that property, [so] we had this really rich, meaningful story that we could convey to the market.”

And it worked.

After only two months in the market, the $1.6-million house sold. And although Mr. Erickson believes this was a result of the remarkable storytelling of the studio’s brand manager, Brendan Kane, it was not the only reason.

In late 2021, the detached segment in Calgary showed strong signs of recovery, and a tight market drove up sales even in the $1-million-plus price range, a niche that had been struggling since the 2014 downturn. “What we’ve seen through the pandemic is a complete turnaround,” says Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist of the Calgary Real Estate Board. “Sales are on pace to hit a record level for $1-million plus [showing] an exceptional strong level of sales activity.”

On Jan. 4, the CREB reported that 27,686 homes were sold 2021, nearly 72-per-cent higher than 2020 and more than 44-per-cent higher than the 10-year average.

The recovery was driven in part by the low lending rates, Ms. Lurie explains, as well as price growth in the lower end of the market. Today’s reduced supply “does reflect that conditions are much tighter, even in the higher end,” she says, adding that “early in the pandemic, the tightest was definitely in the affordable sector of the market, but it’s been shifting all the way up.”

Indeed, in December, the supply of homes in the $1-million-plus segment was four months, a record low. Even before the 2014 downturn, supply would sit at around seven months for this segment, Ms. Lurie says. Moreover, according to CREB, the share of $1-million-plus homes in the Calgary market also increased from three to four per cent in 2021.

While this growth was likely driven by rising prices across the board, Ms. Lurie thinks another factor could be sellers are putting high-end properties back in the market, as seven years after the downturn, million-dollar homes are moving again – and they’re moving quickly.

This is an opportunity Studio North wants to capitalize on.

After their experience selling the Withrow House over the summer, Mr. Erickson says it was clear there was a gap in the city’s luxury real estate market. “When you’re buying something like a house, it’s a really big investment,” he says. “So in order to really convey what that house is all about, it’s important that the designer is involved.”

In his view, the narrative behind a house’s design is often missing from traditional real estate listings. It is difficult for a realtor to convey the subtle nuances of an architecturally designed home. “Typically a realtor just looks at the house, crunches the numbers, and does a pretty simple write up that is really a superficial evaluation of the house,” Mr. Erickson says.

In this context, Mr. Erickson and his Studio North partners, Matthew Kennedy, Damon Hayes Couture and Heath Williamson, identified an opportunity to expand the scope of their services and provide a supplementary marketing service to cater to an exclusive niche of the high-end market. “I think when we’re talking about luxury, we’re also talking about architecture, not just a building [and] there should be a higher level of design that comes with it,” Mr. Erickson says.

Conceived as an organization parallel to Studio North, Arch House aims to fulfill the needs of buyers who value the quality, attention to detail and higher design standards of a custom designed home with a story. “Once you get over that million dollar mark, you’re buying more than just brick and mortar,” Mr. Erickson says. “You’re buying a lifestyle. You have more expectations for the quality of design and the quality of the attention to detail.”

Architects think about natural light, views and composition of space, Mr. Erickson explains. “Those are all things that are critical … and there’s no better person to talk to that than the architect or designer behind it.”

And as this niche gains steam, Arch House could be just what Calgary needs.

According to Ms. Lurie an influx of professionals attracted to the city’s relative affordability can be expected in the coming years. “We are seeing much more job growth in professional and technical services, which tend to be a higher paid industry,” she says. “So in terms of supporting growth in some of the higher price ranges, that is a positive development.”

Currently, Arch House is marketing two high-end homes located in Calgary’s city centre. Priced at just over $1-million, the value of these properties includes much more than what buyers can find in cities such as Vancouver or Toronto in a similar price range. Built in the past five years, both houses are more than 3,000 square feet plus a laneway suite, and feature carefully crafted finishes and state-of-the-art amenities designed by local architects.

But not just any luxury home will make the cut to be marketed by Arch House. “Because we’re working with a pretty niche market, we want to make sure that the house fits our criteria and meets our standards for an architecturally designed house,” Mr. Erickson says. “It’s going to be a small handful of sales that we do every year, and it’s going to be a very curated handful of listings.”

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New analytics tool helps companies take the guesswork out of their real estate needs – Business in Vancouver



New analytics tool helps companies take the guesswork out of their real estate needs – Real Estate | Business in Vancouver

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Impaired Aging Parents Managing Real Estate – Forbes



Who’s Minding the Store?

We’re seeing it more and more now at elders as landlords who can’t do the management job any longer. Sometimes it’s the adult children who bring the issue to our attention. They see Dad failing maintain those rental houses he has had for decades. If tenants complain, he does not do anything. They see Mom fail to collect rents from her commercial enterprise, a small shopping center. They realize that rentable spaces are vacant and have been for some time. No effort to lease them is underway. The kids are alarmed. It may be a single rental home, a commercial building, a vast portfolio or anything the elder owns. Cognitive decline was not anticipated. No one was paying attention and things go wrong.

Financially successful people often invest in real estate, but for those who manage the properties themselves, we see a lack of planning about how to ease out of the management role. The same problem can occur when a property owner has a long time management company which is not held accountable for its work due to the cognitive impairment of the owner. Again, no one is watching management. It is a perfect opportunity for theft from the owner.

Real Life Examples

In one case a wealthy man owned a rental apartment next to his house. The long time tenant took ruthless advantage of the 85 year old owner and simply stopped paying rent. He lived for free and manipulated the owner into thinking the tenant was giving him help in exchange for use of the apartment when no such exchange actually took place.

In another case the 87 year old owner of an office building with long-term tenants in it did not take steps to terminate a very problematic tenant who had been there for 20 years. The landlord hated her but failed to exercise his rights to simply not renew her lease. Instead he waited for her to give notice that she was going to vacate. He had another person interested in the space, willing to lease it but he seemed confused about what to do to secure that new lease. He managed the property by himself.

Both of those elders who were landlords had adult children who could have stepped up. In the first matter, the rental apartment, the elder resisted the son’s attempts to intervene. The elder did have dementia but functioned rather well in other things. He angrily fought his son’s attempts to take over his financial affairs. He had previously appointed his son to do this very thing. The freeloading tenant manipulated the elder into signing an agreement to give the tenant free rent for five years.

In the office building matter, the daughter of the 87 year old was clearly not close to her father and was not paying attention to his confusion. She may have been stopped from getting involved by her father, who was stubborn and unwilling to admit that he was having trouble with managing the investment. In both cases, the only way to prevent abuse and manipulation was for someone appointed earlier to step in and assume responsibility for property management. That works smoothly when the elder is cooperative. It creates a legal mess when the elder resists.

Cognitive Decline and Money Management

Research tells us that even in the earliest stages of dementia or other cognitive impairment, financial judgment is impaired. It is, in a way, the first ability to decline and it is hard to see at first. The older person with impairment for financial judgment can carry on a normal conversation, sound and look okay. But if you asked them about the bookkeeping or accounting, they likely can’t keep it straight. Decline is subtle at the beginning and gets worse over time. Something is amiss before any family member may notice it. Sometimes this leads to loss of value in the property as well as lost income.

What family members can do is to be aware that as a person ages, their sharpness for financial management of property (and other matters too) can slide downhill. If you are aware of aging parents’ real estate investments, it is helpful to educate yourself about them, and to offer to help “in case of any emergency”. Ask your aging parent to teach you about them, even if you know plenty already. This approach can appeal to one’s ego: asking for advice. Do this before you see any sign of a problem and you are likely to be successful in preventing loss of income and value of any real estate they own.

If you simply assume that if Mom or Dad has been managing the family real estate investments for decades and it’s all just fine, you are taking too much chance that it will stay fine. Aging takes its toll. Most of us need some sort of help as we age, especially as we reach 85. By that time, one in three people will have Alzheimer’s disease. If you don’t like those odds, make your best effort to get involved in the real estate they have before the investment loses its value for lack of attention. Fraud is all too common. Predatory real estate brokers, crooked management companies and dishonest tenants can take ruthless advantage of vulnerable elders. Don’t let it happen in your family. If you see your aging parent declining in ability to manage real estate and they fight you on stepping in, it is time to seek legal advice so you can learn what options you have.

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Montreal real estate: Sellers market remains as prices increase by record levels | CTV News – CTV News Montreal



Jacques Leclerc moved to Montreal from Detroit in 2019 with a simple plan.

He and his fiance Emily Ciccia planned to rent for a year and then buy a place with a 20 per cent down payment in Montreal.

It’s 2022, and the couple is still renting in Pierrefonds, frustrated, and starting to think a house purchase is not going to happen.

“Honestly, I never think we’ll be able to afford anything on the island, not at this rate,” said Leclerc.


The couple recently put in a bid over asking price on a house in St. Lazare, but they were outbid. It was a result they had already experienced a number of times on the island and were now having to deal with in the suburbs.

Leclerc is one among many potential home buyers seeing record increases in house prices influence where they can afford to purchase, if they can at all.

Royal LePage’s recent House Price Survey for the Greater Montreal Area showed almost a 20 per cent increase in the aggregate house price, which is now $532,600.

The median price for a single-family detached home also increased by 20 per cent and is $595,500, while a condo’s median price is $428,900 (up 18.2 per cent).

The company expects prices to continue to increase in 2022 due to a shortage of housing and continuing demand.

Royal LePage general manager Georges Gaucher said Montreal is seeing what Vancouver and Toronto have been witnessing for decades.

Montreal is about 40 per cent of Vancouver’s prices and 44 per cent of Toronto.

“We were historically behind,” said Gaucher.

Gaucher said with Quebec’s improved economy and job opportunities, investors entered the market ready to buy. The pandemic has added to the price increase causing buyers to go farther afield to find a place, a new trend.

“What we were not used to is going out really far away into the suburbs or cottage country to get a first house,” said Gaucher. “That is something that is unknown in Montreal.”

In addition, areas once considered less attractive – Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, East Montreal, Rosemont, North Montreal – are being looked at.

The situation is exactly what happened to Leclerc and Ciccia. The couple wanted to purchase on island, but are resigned to the fact that it might not be possible.

The house in St. Lazare the couple was outbid on needed a new roof, water heater and other repairs and they still could not meet the price someone else offered.

“What I want to know is who’s buying these houses way over asking price?” said Leclerc.

At the rate the market is going, the couple, who both have decent paying jobs with no children or other major financial obligations, feels they are in a race in which they can’t keep pace.

“Either like I need to be able to just borrow money I’ll never be able to pay back to buy this house or like I need a government subsidy to purchase this,” said Leclerc. “The cost of everything now, it’s like I’ll never be able to catch up at this rate.”


Gaucher said the conditions in 2022 are the same as in 2021.

“Where we have this explosion of buyers,” he said. “Jobs, interest rates, which brings consumer confidence, and then the flexibility of working from home. These were three major elements that created the market last year.”

In addition, Gaucher said the trend of empty nesters selling their houses and moving to a condo or seniors’ residence did not continue during the pandemic.

“People were scared of doing that, so that didn’t happen,” said Gaucher.

Even with the expected interest rate hike in 2022, real estate agents feel the market will remain a sellers’ market.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand out there,” said Gaucher. “The problem we have is inventory, and we’ve known that for years and years.” 

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