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Joanne Paulson: As Alberta draws people west, why aren’t Sask’s low real estate prices doing the same?

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“What’s the average price of a detached home?”

That’s the question the Government of Alberta asked Torontonians on one of its subway ads, in an attempt to lure Hogtown residents to Cowtown or E-Town.

The answer: Toronto $1.4 million. Edmonton $490,000.

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My answer: Try Saskatoon and subtract a full million bucks. If, of course, you can find a house at all.

Before I get into that, here’s another Alberta ad, because I can’t resist twists on old jokes:

“An engineer, accountant and plumber walk into a province. They all get jobs.”

I have no idea whether this sort of thing brings results, but at least it IS an idea, one that just might attract innocent easterners to the west. Could it work for Saskatchewan?

Because we need more people. Our government regularly crows about our growing population, and in overall numbers, that’s true. But we are also losing people we can’t afford to say buh-bye to, and a bunch of them are headed for, yes, Alberta. As it has been and perhaps always will be.

This “more people needed” point was made at a recent Saskatchewan-wide panel hosted by the Saskatchewan Realtors® Association, entitled State of Real Estate.

One of the participants said, “We have a population problem. We have a density problem. We should be welcoming far more people to this province.”

Chris Guérette, CEO of the SRA, was in full agreement with this comment, and wondered why people are not moving here when our real estate prices are among the most affordable in Canada.

They are also the most stable, and stability is also an attractive quality.

As interest rates soar, prices are plummeting in most jurisdictions, and that’s scary. Not happening here. The province’s benchmark price rose three per cent year-over-year to $324,900 in October. Saskatoon set another record high benchmark price at $371,600, a 4.4 per cent increase. Regina was up 0.9 per cent to $317,800.

Guérette noted that some people in our market have been profoundly affected by rising rates; for example, she has heard of people selling homes and moving in with other family members. It’s not working out well for everyone.

Even so, “Our prices didn’t decrease … at all,” she said. At least so far.

In fact, “Our prices continue to increase slightly … because we are different from the markets that overheated,” she said. Yet we remain the most affordable.

The story behind that stability, as I’ve babbled on about before, is largely low inventory. Even as sales in Saskatoon fell 12 per cent year-over-year, they remain above pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, inventory is down almost 33 per cent from the 10-year average.

Allow me to emphasize that. Thirty-three per cent.

Regina sales are up one per cent on the year, but up 26 per cent from the long-term average, while inventory is down 18 per cent.

“Throughout the province, we’re seeing not as many sales under the $500,000 mark because that’s where the inventory is lacking,” Guérette said.

So herein lies the conundrum. We have a remarkably stable housing market and economy, considering inflation and the state of, well, everything. We are overflowing with industries powering along. We need labour. It is, comparatively, affordable to live here.

This is not the Saskatchewan of yesteryear, when we were still trying to build a strong and diversified economy.

Yet we are not seeing substantial in-migration, even while there is a dearth of affordable single-family homes.

Where is the disconnect? Regarding inventory, it could be that the market is still catching its breath after two hot years of Covid-era buying. But does that explain a 33 per cent drop in houses for sale?

As to the in-migration issue, please don’t tell me it’s winter. Alberta’s winters are almost as gross as ours in recent years, and Manitoba’s are easily as bad. And have you ever witnessed a Newfoundland and Labrador snowstorm? Jobs and shelter are still more important than weather.

I would also find it hard to believe that potential new residents would not move here only because of a lack of housing selection.

Guérette and the housing industry are grappling with this odd state of affairs, hence convening a discussion on it. Meanwhile, she says, we need to embrace all newcomers with open arms.

“When they choose Saskatchewan, we need to say, ‘Yes. Where do you want to go? What do you need?’ ” she said.

In that vein, on the real estate development side, is it possible to change tracks from “If you build it, they will come” to “When they come, we’ll build it for them?”

In the interim, while struggling to figure this out, a clever advertising campaign extolling our many virtues may not be the worst idea ever. All other ideas welcome.

Joanne Paulson is a Saskatoon author and freelance journalist who has been covering real estate, off and on, for more than 25 years. Do you have a fascinating real estate story to share? Get in touch at jcpwriter@sasktel.net.

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

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Real estate agents say they can't imagine working without ChatGPT now – CNN

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CNN
 — 

If you came across a four bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home listed for sale recently on a quiet cul-de-sac in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you might not think twice about the online listing. It included typical real estate descriptions like “ideal for entertaining” and “ample space for relaxation.”

But JJ Johannes, the realtor for the home, created the description in less than five seconds by typing a few keywords into ChatGPT, a viral new AI chatbot tool that can generate elaborate responses to user prompts. It’s a task, he said, that would otherwise have taken him an hour or more to write on his own.

“It saved me so much time,” Johannes told CNN, noting he made a few tweaks and edits to ChatGPT’s work before publishing it. “It’s not perfect but it was a great starting point. My background is in technology and writing something eloquent takes time. This made it so much easier.”

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ChatGPT passes exams from law and business schools

Johannes is among the real estate agents experimenting with ChatGPT since it was released publicly in late November. Some residential and commercial agents told CNN it has already changed the way they work, from writing listings and social media posts to drafting legal documents. It could also be used to automate repetitive tasks such as answering frequently asked questions and doing complex calculations.

ChatGPT is trained on vast amounts of online data in order to generate responses to user prompts. It has written original essays, stories, song lyrics and research paper abstracts that fooled some scientists. Some CEOs have used it to write emails or do accounting work. It even passed an exam at an Ivy League school. (It has, however, raised concerns among some for its potential to enable cheating and for its inaccuracies.)

Miami real estate broker Andres Asion.

In less than two months, ChatGPT has sparked discussions around its potential to disrupt various industries, from publishing to law. But it’s already having a tangible impact on how a number of real estate agents around the country do their jobs – where much of the written work can be formulaic and time consuming – to the extent that some can no longer imagine working without it.

“I’ve been using it for more than a month, and I can’t remember the last time something has wowed me this much,” said Andres Asion, a broker from the Miami Real Estate Group.

‘As soon as I tried it out, I was sold”

Recently, a client reached out to Asion with a problem: the woman had moved into a pre-construction home and couldn’t open her windows. She had attempted to contact the developer for months with no response. Asion ran a copy of one of her emails through ChatGPT, asking it to rewrite it with an emphasis on the liability implications.

“ChatGPT wrote it as a legal issue and all of a sudden, the developer showed up at her house,” he said.

How Microsoft could use ChatGPT to supercharge its products

Asion has also used the tool to draft legally binding addendums and other documents, and sent them to lawyers for approval. “I fine-tune all kinds of drafts with ChatGPT,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll tell it to make it shorter or funnier, and it gives you so many samples to pick and edit from.”

ChatGPT is free for now, but OpenAI, the company behind it, is reportedly considering a monthly charge of $42. Asion said “it’s not even a question” he would pay for access. “I would easily pay $100 or $200 a year for something like this,” he said. “I’d be crazy not to.”

Frank Trelles, a commercial real estate agent at State Street Realty in Miami, said he’d also pay to keep using the tool, which has already impacted the way he does business. “As soon as I tried it out, I was sold,” he said. “I went to sign up for a package, thinking it would be at least $100 a month, and was blown away that it was free. Nothing in this world is free though – and that made me a bit nervous.”

Trelles said he uses ChatGPT to look up the permitted uses for certain land and zones in Miami-Dade County, and calculate what mortgage payments or return on investment might be for a client, which typically involve formulas and mortgage calculators.

“I can be in a car with a client when they ask me what their mortgage payments might be,” said Trelles. “I can ask ChatGPT what a mortgage payment would be on a $14 million purchase at a 7.2% interest rate amortized over 25 years with two origination points at closing, and in two seconds, it gives me that information. It also explains how it got the answer. It’s amazing.”

Lots of potential, and some limitations

There are some limitations, however. The tool has, for example, struggled with some basic math before. Trelles said it’s helpful for approximations on the go, not for exact numbers.

Serge Reda, a commercial real estate executive and adjunct professor at the Fordham Real Estate Institute, said some use cases for ChatGPT are better than others. ChatGPT may help save brokers time when writing listings or responses, but automating client responses may not be the best tactic because generating leads and closing transactions typically requires a personalized approach.

New York City public schools ban access to AI tool that could help students cheat

“It’s accessible to everyone right now because it’s free and they can get a taste of how this powerful tool can work. But there are definitely significant limitations,” he said.

While ChatGPT has generated a wave of interest among realtors, incorporating artificial intelligence in the real estate market isn’t entirely new. Listing site Zillow, for example, has used AI for 3D mapping, creating automatic floor plans and for its Zestimate tool, which can scan pictures to see if a home has hardwood floors or stainless steel appliances so its price estimation better reflects market conditions. Earlier this week, Zillow rolled out an AI-feature that lets potential buyers conduct searches in a more natural language (something that’s long been mastered by Google).

Matt Kreamer, a spokesperson for Zillow, said the real estate industry has been slower to innovate, but “I think we’ll be seeing much bigger strides very soon.” He said Zillow sees no clear concerns with agents using ChatGPT to help streamline the work they already do and save time.

“We aren’t promoting or wary of ChatGPT but are interested in how it’s being used and watching it,” he said.

Although it’s too early to say if the tool will become a mainstay in real estate, realtor Johannes believes AI in general will transform his industry and others.

“It may not be with ChatGPT,” he said, “but I believe some form of artificial intelligence like this will become a big part of how we work and live our lives.”

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Why commercial real estate can be a great hedge against inflation – Financial Post

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Earn passive income and protect your wealth without doling out thousands

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This article was created by MoneyWise. Postmedia and MoneyWise may earn an affiliate commission through links on this page.

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Despite inflation rates dropping to 6.3 per cent — the largest dip since Feb. 2022 — the economy’s volatility isn’t fading anytime soon.

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In fact, experts predict another year of rising inflation, hikes in interest rates and a mild recession for 2023.

Finding a safe investment to act as a hedge and bulk up your income is essential during economic uncertainty. The right investment can support you in an emergency and safeguard the future of your finances.

As a tangible asset with plenty of cash-flow potential, commercial real estate is a great place to invest to protect your money and your future.

Build financial freedom with real estate investing

Commercial real estate is an enticing investment that can diversify your portfolio and generate consistent passive income.

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Forbes reported that over the past 25 years, commercial real estate has outperformed the S&P 500 Index with average annual returns of 10.3 per cent.

Plus, because of the income it generates and its tangibility, commercial real estate acts as a hedge against inflation. When the value of the dollar drops, property values tend to increase and your real estate investment returns prove themselves lucrative.

It’s a solid investment choice for people looking to build their portfolios and protect their wealth for the future, but it hasn’t always been accessible.

Invest like a millionaire without having to be one

Because commercial real estate investing is not typically offered on a fractional basis, the barrier to entry has been prohibitively high for most investors.

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Article content

In the best-case scenario, a lender will ask the investor to put down a minimum of 20 per cent in equity before acquiring a property.

But, through tokenization, HoneyBricks has made commercial real estate investing available to accredited investors looking to build their wealth.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to invest in real estate that produces strong, stable returns. In fact, all you need is a minimum of $100 to invest in your first property and start reaping the rewards of a consistent passive income.

It only takes minutes to create your free account and start investing through HoneyBricks.

With investments both vetted and managed by their experienced team, you don’t have to stress about the status of this stable investment available right at your fingertips.

Sign up for HoneyBricks today and start building a future of financial freedom.

This article was created by Wise Publishing. Wise is devoted to providing information that helps readers navigate the complex landscape of personal finance. Wise only partners with brands it trusts and believes may be helpful to the reader. This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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Real estate agents say they can't imagine working without ChatGPT now – CNN

Published

 on




CNN
 — 

If you came across a four bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home listed for sale recently on a quiet cul-de-sac in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you might not think twice about the online listing. It included typical real estate descriptions like “ideal for entertaining” and “ample space for relaxation.”

But JJ Johannes, the realtor for the home, created the description in less than five seconds by typing a few keywords into ChatGPT, a viral new AI chatbot tool that can generate elaborate responses to user prompts. It’s a task, he said, that would otherwise have taken him an hour or more to write on his own.

“It saved me so much time,” Johannes told CNN, noting he made a few tweaks and edits to ChatGPT’s work before publishing it. “It’s not perfect but it was a great starting point. My background is in technology and writing something eloquent takes time. This made it so much easier.”

300x250x1

ChatGPT passes exams from law and business schools

Johannes is among the real estate agents experimenting with ChatGPT since it was released publicly in late November. Some residential and commercial agents told CNN it has already changed the way they work, from writing listings and social media posts to drafting legal documents. It could also be used to automate repetitive tasks such as answering frequently asked questions and doing complex calculations.

ChatGPT is trained on vast amounts of online data in order to generate responses to user prompts. It has written original essays, stories, song lyrics and research paper abstracts that fooled some scientists. Some CEOs have used it to write emails or do accounting work. It even passed an exam at an Ivy League school. (It has, however, raised concerns among some for its potential to enable cheating and for its inaccuracies.)

Miami real estate broker Andres Asion.

In less than two months, ChatGPT has sparked discussions around its potential to disrupt various industries, from publishing to law. But it’s already having a tangible impact on how a number of real estate agents around the country do their jobs – where much of the written work can be formulaic and time consuming – to the extent that some can no longer imagine working without it.

“I’ve been using it for more than a month, and I can’t remember the last time something has wowed me this much,” said Andres Asion, a broker from the Miami Real Estate Group.

‘As soon as I tried it out, I was sold”

Recently, a client reached out to Asion with a problem: the woman had moved into a pre-construction home and couldn’t open her windows. She had attempted to contact the developer for months with no response. Asion ran a copy of one of her emails through ChatGPT, asking it to rewrite it with an emphasis on the liability implications.

“ChatGPT wrote it as a legal issue and all of a sudden, the developer showed up at her house,” he said.

How Microsoft could use ChatGPT to supercharge its products

Asion has also used the tool to draft legally binding addendums and other documents, and sent them to lawyers for approval. “I fine-tune all kinds of drafts with ChatGPT,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll tell it to make it shorter or funnier, and it gives you so many samples to pick and edit from.”

ChatGPT is free for now, but OpenAI, the company behind it, is reportedly considering a monthly charge of $42. Asion said “it’s not even a question” he would pay for access. “I would easily pay $100 or $200 a year for something like this,” he said. “I’d be crazy not to.”

Frank Trelles, a commercial real estate agent at State Street Realty in Miami, said he’d also pay to keep using the tool, which has already impacted the way he does business. “As soon as I tried it out, I was sold,” he said. “I went to sign up for a package, thinking it would be at least $100 a month, and was blown away that it was free. Nothing in this world is free though – and that made me a bit nervous.”

Trelles said he uses ChatGPT to look up the permitted uses for certain land and zones in Miami-Dade County, and calculate what mortgage payments or return on investment might be for a client, which typically involve formulas and mortgage calculators.

“I can be in a car with a client when they ask me what their mortgage payments might be,” said Trelles. “I can ask ChatGPT what a mortgage payment would be on a $14 million purchase at a 7.2% interest rate advertised over 25 years with two origination points at closing, and in two seconds, it gives me that information. It also explains how it got the answer. It’s amazing.”

Lots of potential, and some limitations

There are some limitations, however. The tool has, for example, struggled with some basic math before. Trelles said it’s helpful for approximations on the go, not for exact numbers.

Serge Reda, a commercial real estate executive and adjunct professor at the Fordham Real Estate Institute, said some use cases for ChatGPT are better than others. ChatGPT may help save brokers time when writing listings or responses, but automating client responses may not be the best tactic because generating leads and closing transactions typically requires a personalized approach.

New York City public schools ban access to AI tool that could help students cheat

“It’s accessible to everyone right now because it’s free and they can get a taste of how this powerful tool can work. But there are definitely significant limitations,” he said.

While ChatGPT has generated a wave of interest among realtors, incorporating artificial intelligence in the real estate market isn’t entirely new. Listing site Zillow, for example, has used AI for 3D mapping, creating automatic floor plans and for its Zestimate tool, which can scan pictures to see if a home has hardwood floors or stainless steel appliances so its price estimation better reflects market conditions. Earlier this week, Zillow rolled out an AI-feature that lets potential buyers conduct searches in a more natural language (something that’s long been mastered by Google).

Matt Kreamer, a spokesperson for Zillow, said the real estate industry has been slower to innovate, but “I think we’ll be seeing much bigger strides very soon.” He said Zillow sees no clear concerns with agents using ChatGPT to help streamline the work they already do and save time.

“We aren’t promoting or weary of ChatGPT but are interested in how it’s being used and watching it,” he said.

Although it’s too early to say if the tool will become a mainstay in real estate, realtor Johannes believes AI in general will transform his industry and others.

“It may not be with ChatGPT,” he said, “but I believe some form of artificial intelligence like this will become a big part of how we work and live our lives.”

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