Alberta’s new budget spares real estate market
Alberta’s new provincial budget was rife with tax increases, including those relating to real estate, but agents on the ground say those fee increases aren’t likely to really impact the market. “Alberta right now is an interesting time,” says Duane Ritter, a sales rep in Edmonton. “I don’t really believe the budget will have any effect on real estate... It’s just going to take more money out of our pockets.” The budget, announced last Thursday, called for increases to many of the province’s taxes. Most notably, Alberta has done away with a flat 10 per cent tax, instead adding two brackets for those earning more than $100,000 in taxable income. The greatest potential impact to real estate, however, is an increase to the land title and mortgage registration fees. As the Calgary Herald reports, those are expected to spike to $1,230 on a $500,000 property. That’s a four-fold increase from the previous fees of $290. “I don’t think there’s anything major that came into the budget that’s going to deter real estate sales,” says George Bamber, a broker/owner in Calgary. “It’s another expense that people don’t really want to incur, but it’s going to be the cost of doing business.” Read more here
Canadian retail industry takes yet another hit
Future Shop stores across Canada closed on the weekend without warning, resulting in hundreds of full and part-time jobs being lost. Best Buy Canada, a subsidiary of Best Buy Co. Inc. that owns and operates Best Buy and Future Shop stores, said in a statement Saturday that it was closing 66 Future Shops for good, while 65 others would be converted into Best Buys. According to the Calgary Herald, cross Canada, the changes will result in the loss of 500 full-time and 1,000 part-times jobs, the company said. Stores across the country were locked and covered in paper on Saturday with signs posted out front telling customers to shop at nearby Best Buy stores. The company added there are now a total of 192 Best Buys in Canada, 56 of which are Best Buy Mobile stores, and that the converted stores will reopen after a one-week closure.
Condos, transit boosting real estate in Hamilton
After tough times hammered their sinking steel industry, a massive residential shift to the suburbs and the more recent 2009 recession, downtown Hamilton seems finally poised to hit its post-industrial stride. According to the Globe and Mail, four major new condo projects in the city centre are selling into a market hungry for urban living at a relatively reasonable price. Coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, bars, boutiques and other amenities are sprouting up to serve the new urbanites, completing the picture of a promising renewal that has been a long time coming. “The movement out to the suburbs has been reversed,” says Glen Norton, the city's economic development chief, himself a downtown Hamilton condo dweller. “It’s being driven by the millennials, who aren’t so keen on buying a car and like to be close to their social scene. And at the other end of the spectrum are the empty-nesters. “All of Hamilton is benefiting from the high prices in Toronto,” he adds. “Across the city, about 25 per cent of sales of both new and used homes are going to people from Toronto.” Condos in downtown Hamilton have just passed the $400-per-square-foot average. In Toronto, the average price for new condos is $557 per square foot, with prices tending to rise the closer one gets to the city’s core.