Galloping into the Year of the Horse

Kung Hei Fat Choi! I just returned from a fantastic visit to Hong Kong and enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year there on January 31.

We just entered the year of the horse – according to astrologist Susan Levitt, “a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance… Energy is high and production is rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. But you have to act fast in a Horse year.”

Not that I am a big believer in astrology, but this may be good advice for those looking to purchase real estate in Calgary this year. Inventory remains at extremely low levels, with less than two months worth of single-family listings at the current rate of sale. There are just 1,671 single-family houses, 577 condos and 277 townhomes listed in the entire city right now.

With the current strong demand, most properties are selling quickly and for very close to (or sometimes over) their list price. When you find the right home for you, it’s important to move quickly in this market.

I always enjoy seeing the way people live in different cultures and, being in real estate, am curious about what their residences are like.

Although there are many grand, luxurious properties in Hong Kong with incredible views of the ocean, outlying islands and city skylines, there are also hundreds of thousands of tiny apartments. Hong Kong is the 4th most densely populated nation in the world at 6,516 people per square kilometre. In contract, Canada is the 230th most densely populated at 3.6 people per square km! (Note: if you are still feeling crowded, you could always relocate to Greenland which is the least dense nation at 0.03 people per square km!!)

Calgary is not the only city struggling with affordable housing these days. In Hong Kong, if you can’t afford to rent an apartment (which is usually in the thousands of dollars per month), you can rent out a bunk bed that is surrounded by a metal cage so you can keep your belongings securely inside for $1,300 HKD/month (about $185 CAD). The “living space” is about 6′ by 3′ and just tall enough to sit up in. Residents share a common bathroom with a dozen or so other caged residents. The images are quite appalling if you google “cage homes hong kong” or check out this article.

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If you want to purchase real estate in Hong Kong, even modest condos run into the millions of dollars Canadian. The 384-square-foot unit with the tiny kitchen pictured here is located in a trendy, central location and is listed for sale at $8,700,000 HKD, roughly $1,200,000 CAD.

There are very few condos this small in Calgary – just 24 units listed right now under 500 square feet, with the smallest being a 307-square-foot studio in Bankview for $90,800. This comes out to $295 per square foot. The Hong Kong condo mentioned above is listed at $3,125 per square foot!!

If you are looking for a condo or house this year, small or large, I am happy to help you with your search and will provide all of the market information needed so you feel confident in acting quickly when you find the right home!