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Alberta residential real estate: Builder goes bust

One of the biggest home developers in Wild Rose Country has closed its doors, leaving many unfinished homes in a neighbourhood outside Calgary. The Alberta residential real estate developer lost a court request recently for the restructuring of its debt and went into receivership to the tune of $64.6 million. Some buyers have already taken possession of the homes that were completed, but are having some issues the builder said it would take care of.

Those whose homes were completed are among the lucky ones. The buyers whose homes sit incomplete are unsure what will happen to their deposits. Meanwhile, other contractors have put liens on some of the properties. Purchasers have been told that they won't be getting answers to all their questions until any assets of the builder have been sold off.

Commercial real estate looking up in Alberta capital

In a recent report, a real estate researcher has indicated that a small increase in office vacancies in Edmonton's downtown core may be promising news for the potential expansion of existing companies. That's good news for commercial real estate in the Alberta capital seeing that the Conference Board of Canada (CBC) is earmarking Edmonton for 17,600 jobs in the business sector come 2021. According to the CBC, that will cut the vacancy rate to about five per cent.

Companies looking to expand in Edmonton will need the space to house new employees -- hundreds of thousands in square metres according to the real estate researcher. The office vacancy rate in downtown Edmonton last summer was 17.7 per cent, up slightly from a year previous. Edmonton's market is showing stronger numbers than Calgary. In the same timeframe, Calgary's downtown vacancy rate increased to 27 per cent from 22 and net rents decreased to $12 per square foot from $16. That number in Edmonton is $18.10 a square foot.

Edmonton is tops for residential real estate sales in Alberta

Alberta's capital city seems to be the best place in the province to invest in a home. The residential real estate market in Edmonton is both stable and affordable when compared to other markets in the country. According to a report by the Real Estate Investment Network, Edmonton is set to outshine other markets in Alberta, including Calgary's.

Because rent prices are falling and more rentals are sitting vacant, the time is now to get into a home before the rental market recovers. The market at the moment is a buy-and-keep one rather than a purchase-and-flip, which is showing a slow down. With low mortgage rates and cash flowing, the investment market in Edmonton is looking bright. 

Alberta residential real estate sales: Checking a home's history

Those people who believe their homes are haunted and who are thinking of selling them are in luck. When it comes to residential real estate transactions in Alberta, homeowners aren't obligated to divulge the history of their homes. So, if a homeowner believes he or she is sharing a home with otherworldly guests, it isn't necessary to divulge that belief to potential buyers.

So, in effect, it's buyer beware when it comes to a home's history. If a potential purchaser hears rumours that a home he or she is interested in may be haunted or that some gruesome crime has taken place at the residence, some investigation into the property's history may be warranted. Although homeowners aren't legally obliged to tell a purchaser about the sordid history of a house, real estate salespeople operate by a code of ethics. Chances are if a realtor knows about a home's history -- like if a crime once took place there -- he or she will tell a possible purchaser.

Real estate transactions: New rules may reduce buying power

New mortgage rules across the country may may it harder for purchasers to snag their dream homes. In Alberta, as in the rest of Canada, new rules regarding mortgages are expected to reduce buying power by about 21 percent. Real estate transactions may take a hit because of the move.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), Canada's bank regulator, wants to increase stress tests for mortgagees, and a well-known site for mortgage comparisons says that will reduce mortgages for which home buyers qualify. House prices will likely decline by about 10 to 20 percent due to the expected reduction in affordability, an expert for the site estimates. Apparently, properties with a value in excess of $1 million would most likely be affected. 

Unclaimed property in the Alberta residential real estate sector

There are a number of unclaimed properties in Alberta. Some of those properties belong to the residential real estate sector. The province is proposing changes to the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act to make it easier for Alberta residents to be reunited with their assets that have been lost or forgotten. 

The law was passed in Alberta in 2008. It allows Albertans to search for property they lost track of due to personal or business reasons. The Alberta Treasury Board along with Finance, Tax and Revenue Administration oversees a central system. This central registry not only provides a searchable database, but also oversees the claims process to hook up owners with their property and establishes a central administration program for property management coming under Crown control.

Spooky residential real estate area in Alberta

One of the creepiest residential areas in the world happens to be in an abandoned Alberta neighbourhood. This residential real estate area known as Beachwood Estates looks like something out of a Stephen King-inspired movie. The homes in this High River neighbourhood simply look like their owners are on vacation.

These once beautiful million-dollar residences were photographed by a well-known photographer who dubbed the area the creepiest place in the world because it looked like the people simply vanished. In June 2013, High River experienced massive flooding that forced all the residents out of the community with little time to get any of their things. The difference here is that the homes look pretty much untouched with very little vandalism having taken place. The photographer compared the neighbourhood to one that could be featured on the popular television show, The Walking Dead.

Commercial real estate and Calgary's mayor at odds?

Cow Town's mayor Naheed Nenshi is not in the good books of small business owners lately. The mayor of Alberta's largest city has been at the helm of a hefty hike in property taxes for some small businesses, making the foray into commercial real estate difficult. Taxes have increased at other government levels as well, so many owners of small businesses are feeling the pressure, while the mayor is in the hot seat.

Calgary has just been starting to get over a nasty economic low that resulted from a deep drop in oil prices. The province suffered untold job losses with the effect being felt in all economic areas -- especially at the small business level. In a recent report, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) indicated that Calgary's commercial real estate owners are paying almost four times more in taxes than residential owners on properties around the same value. 

Offices turned residential real estate in Alberta Cow Town

Calgary residents will be getting a vast choice of new places to call home. One the biggest real estate trusts in the country is planning on re-purposing four offices buildings located downtown into residential real estate units. The Alberta company is also planning on reclassifying commercially zoned land near Stampede Station to build a multifamily development consisting of 300 units. 

Calgary revamped its land use bylaw, which makes the process easier to get the green light to re-purpose office buildings -- good news for developers as the office vacancy rate in the downtown core hovers at around 25 percent. In most cases now, only a building permit is needed. The real estate company in question recently sold three office, seven retail and 10 industrial areas in Alberta, reducing its net operating income in the province from 39 to 26 percent.

Alberta site of Passive House residential real estate pilot

The Passive House is being tested in the Calgary area. A residential real estate project, the Passive House was developed in Germany and is essentially a house out of a box. The Alberta pilot project aims to provide education regarding construction methods to trade suppliers. A Passive House apparently used 90 percent less energy than new builds since it utilizes sun and shade efficiently as heat sources for cooking and heat recovery.

In fact, the house is so efficient it doesn't need a standard heating system. The pilot house doesn't have a furnace, and fresh air is supplied through a ventilation system. The home is air tight so a heat recovery system reuses heat already in the exhaust system. The Passive Home is being touted as the greenest home in Alberta to date.

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