Plunging oil prices boosted housing affordability in Calgary during the first quarter of 2015, says RBC Economics.

Its latest housing trends report, released Monday, said falling energy prices shook the confidence of both buyers and sellers — reversing a trend of rapid price increases and swinging the market sharply in favour of buyers.

Recent developments suggest that housing activity stabilized in spring, and the market will be shaped by news on the economy and the job market in particular over the coming months.

RBC measures affordability using the proportion of pre-tax household income required to service the mortgage of an average home, including principal and interest, property taxes and utilities.

In Calgary, the affordability measures improved in all categories: Condos fell 0.6 points to 19.4 per cent, two-storey homes declined 1.5 points to 32.6 per cent, and bungalows dropped one point to 32.8 per cent.

The Calgary Real Estate Board has logged 1,550 MLS sales through Sunday, a decline of 19 per cent from the same period a year ago. The average sale price was down 2.9 per cent to $482,691.

RBC Economics said sales activity in Calgary has improved in recent months.

Alberta saw affordability measures improve in all categories as well: Condos were down 0.6 points to 19.9 per cent, two-storey homes declined one point to 33 per cent, and bungalows dropped 0.7 points to 31.8 per cent.

At the national level, RBC said affordability measures improved slightly: Condos were down 0.2 points to 27.1 per cent, two-storey homes declined 0.2 points to 47.9 per cent and detached bungalows were unchanged at 42.7 per cent.

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Apartment rents in Calgary jumped almost six per cent during the past year despite weakening demand led by the slumping energy sector.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in its spring market survey, said same sample rents for a two-bedroom apartment rose 5.9 per cent in the 12 months to April 2015. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment grew to $1,319, eclipsed only by Vancouver — at $1,345 — among the major markets surveyed by CMHC. The average two-bedroom rent in Toronto was $1,269, it said.

Meanwhile, the Calgary-area vacancy rate grew to 3.2 per cent in April, more than double the 1.4 per cent rate of a year earlier.

The CMHC report confirmed rent increases were largely attributed to stronger demand in the latter half of 2014.

The current rate of 3.2 per cent has historically reflected a supply and demand balance.

New condo construction in the past one to two years has decreased rental demand as more renters are buying homes.

Canmore posted Alberta’s lowest vacancy rate, at zero per cent. Cold Lake and Wood Buffalo had the province’s highest vacancy rates at 22.8 and 22.3 per cent respectively.

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The Bar-N Ghost Pine Ranch in southern Alberta is being listed for sale for a record $42.5 million US.

The nearly 6,000-hectare property, owned by Calgary oil and gas executive Greg Noval, is located 90 minutes south of Calgary and close to renowned UNESCO World Heritage site Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

The previous owners were the Wesley family, who were well known for establishing an Alberta baseball team, the Granum White Sox.

Offers will be accepted exclusively in US dollars. The list price is about $52.5 million in Canadian dollars.

It features six residential homes “set on a pristine and diverse landscape, with lush meadows, rolling hills, steeper mountain country with scatterings of aspens and evergreens, as well as water springs, trout pond and a lake.

The cattle ranch is also home to elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer and several species of birds including the sharp-tailed grouse.

The water on this site is incredible. There are streams, ponds and a lake on the property that keep this property lush and green most of the year. They’ve never had any water issues. They have gravity water supply that comes into the home. So they have no pumps pumping any water because there’s just that much water on this land.

It is untouched nature basically that is a large parcel that hasn’t been affected by any development or any external effect. It’s been protected.

The working cattle ranch has 800 cattle and 36 Angus cross bulls. It has winter cabin facilities, corrals, barns, machine shops and sheds.

The residences include a luxurious 5,200-square-foot grand ranch home, a guest home, and four village houses for a full crew.

The primary residence has been designed to highlight the beauty of the surrounding natural landscape, with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing panoramic views, custom millwork with etchings of the prairies and local wildlife throughout the home.

Canadian real estate is now regarded as being among the most desirable assets for discerning buyers worldwide. Given the low Canadian dollar, this property’s unique history, and its location one hour from the U.S. border, it’s no surprise that there has not only been interest from Canadian buyers, but from buyers from the U.S. and internationally as well.

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A Calgary developer plans to build a 32-storey mixed-used skyscraper on a vacant downtown site that’s been a neighbourhood eyesore for several years.

 

Strategic Group has submitted a development permit application for the site at the corner of 1st Street S.E. and 10th Avenue. The $130-million project, to be named ONE, will include 100,000 square feet of Class A office space, 227 one- and two-bedroom rental residences and retail, says the Strategic Group.

 

Strategic acquired the site in November 2014 after it sat vacant for several years after a planned 30-storey condo project never got off the ground.

 

Despite the current economic uncertainty, the developer has confidence in the city and has confidence in the particular project that they're building.

 

Construction is expected to start later this year with completion by the end of 2017.

 

It’s got such great access into downtown so people can really have that living close to work and being able to walk or ride a bike and not having to rely on a car as much to get around. Everything is in a very close range from that site.

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