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Residential real estate: Some rules differ for common law couples

Buying a home can be an exciting venture. For some Alberta couples it is the next step in a relationship. But there are certain things unmarried couples should know when it comes to residential real estate -- there are some differences when a couple isn't legally married. 

To be considered a common law couple in Alberta, the two people must have been living together for at least three years -- that applies to both heterosexual and same-sex couples. As long as a common law couple stays together, everything is fine, but if they should separate, this is where the law differs from those who are married. There is no automatic right to property sharing in a common law partnership. But if the property was acquired during the time the couple was living together, one can file a property claim under the law. 

Commercial real estate: APREIT acquires 2 auto dealerships

Automotive Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (APREIT) just sealed the deal on a multi-million dollar acquisition of two dealership properties. The commercial real estate deals included one in Sherwood Park, Alberta, and one in Laval, Quebec. The two auto dealerships set APREIT back about $55.5 million.  

REIT funded the venture with funds from one of its revolving credit properties and from a similar expanded facility. Equity from the deal will be used to pay down the debt from the transaction and for trust purposes. This is known as an offering, and it hinges on Toronto Stock Exchange approval.

Residential real estate: Edmonton lots subdivided into pork chops

Edmonton may soon turn into the land of pork chops. Residents living in the Alberta capital have received the green light to subdivide their land into lots that resemble pork chops. Indeed, pork chop lots -- also known as battle axe, hammerhead or flag lots -- take one larger lot and turn it into two smaller ones. This is a residential real estate experiment by the city of Edmonton to get new builds started in inner city neighbourhoods that are sparsely populated.

What's different about pork chop lots is that property is divided in half, rather than in the middle, so you can have a house built in back of another. This pilot project differs in that it will actually allow current property owners to subdivide and sell the back portion of their lots. The only other municipality in Canada that allows such subdivisions is Vancouver.

Commercial real estate: Denied pot sellers stuck with leases?

Prospective cannabis retailers may have jumped the gun a bit early. Those in Canada who are hoping to be accepted to sell legal marijuana but who won't be given the green light may be stuck with commercial real estate contracts that they may have a tough time getting out of. These individuals may have already signed leases that are pretty much ironclad, according to a Calgary-based real estate advisory company.

Commercial properties already leased by those who don't make the cut in terms of being able to peddle pot, will be hard to unload and could cause a lot of financial angst for those who didn't think about what would happen if they weren't approved to sell cannabis in a retail environment. Some of these would-be sellers have signed leases without clauses for being able to break the lease. This means they may be stuck with exorbitant rents without the income.

Residential real estate: The Fort most affordable area in Alberta

It seems that Fort McMurray tops the list of the most affordable housing in Alberta. Residential real estate is on the upswing in this Alberta community that has seen its share of problems in the last few years -- especially from devastating forest fires that nearly razed the entire population centre. Using the home price-to-income ratio, Fort McMurray wins the top prize for affordability.

The average price of a home in the Fort is a little better than $439,000 while the median double income is $221,425 and the single median income is a little more than $106,000. So the price-to-ratio incomes are 2:1 and 4:1, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, the least affordable places to buy a home in Alberta are Edmonton, Calgary, Canmore, Okotoks and Camrose.

Canada real estate transactions: Selling prices to be made public

A recent Supreme Court decision is expected to change the face of real estate in the country. Certain information -- like the selling price -- regarding sold properties in real estate transactions in Canada will now be made public. The high court chose not to hear an appeal regarding the ruling of a lower court, which decided that the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) must allow certain information about homes for sale to be made public, including what a home sold for previously.

The decision has been a hard pill to swallow for real estate boards across the country. They argue that making such information public violates the privacy of the homeowner. This has been a contentious issue since 2011 when the Competition Bureau said that withholding such information slows competition. Realtors are loving the decision, with one CEO of a real estate company saying that making this type of data public will assist buyers in making more informed decisions and allow real estate salespeople to help their clients make what may be the biggest financial purchase of their lives.

Residential real estate: Downsizing not the same in Alberta

When a homeowner says he or she will be downsizing, it usually means moving into smaller digs. In Alberta, that's not always the case when it comes to residential real estate. In Alberta, downsizing may not mean leaving a home at all. Alberta baby boomers may consider downsizing to mean staying put and revamping what's already been in the family for years. 

That's a distinct difference from their counterparts in Ontario and British Columbia where more people are actually selling their family homes and moving into apartments, condos or smaller homes. A real estate expert believes it may have something to do with Albertans' belief in real estate's strength and in the merits of home ownership. And if older Albertans do decide to downsize, it's usually by purchasing a smaller home rather than a condo, multi-family housing or renting an apartment.

Real estate transactions: Plans for Canada's other CN Tower

Many people do not realize that there are actually two CN Towers in Canada. The other is in Edmonton, Alberta and when it comes to real estate transactions, the 27-storey building in the city's downtown core, which CN vacated in 2008, is set to get a new lease on life. The new owner is turning the building into an office complex and has already updated the elevator, mechanical and building security systems.

The CEO of the company that purchased the building said renovations on about 156,000 square feet of the space have been completed and ready for new tenants. The building has a total of 254,000 square feet. With the ever-changing office market in Alberta, the company is flexible regarding new companies and startups. It will gladly help these companies with their space needs as they grow.

Legal cannabis to heat up Alberta commercial real estate sector

Officials in Calgary have already approved two shops in two different malls that will be selling legal cannabis -- that is two out of 83 applications for these areas alone. Alberta's commercial real estate sector stands to profit from the October legalization of recreational marijuana with retail stores all set to open shop in a variety of commercial locations, from malls to store front locations. Alberta's total cannabis store applications are approaching the 700 mark.

With the new-found interest in commercial real estate, come some pluses for landlords, including the fact that rates have doubled. Lessees are willing to pay prime rates for places they believe would be ideal to showcase their cannabis products. And because cannabis still has some public stigma attached to it, landlords are using that as fuel to hike lease rates.

Alberta residential real estate: Lots of choice for homebuyers

Homebuyers will be happy to know that they have lot of homes from which to choose this summer. Alberta's inventory when it comes to residential real estate is looking healthier than it has in a while. In fact, a local realtor says he has never seen so many homes on the market in the 15 years he has been in real estate.

The market is still posing somewhat of a challenge, but there is every indication that things are on the upswing.  There are a few little kinks in the market, however. Since there is so much inventory, people don't seem to be in such a hurry to decide on a purchase. Buyers are taking their time, much to the dismay of many sellers who want to see quick turnarounds. 

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