CREB predicts modest growth in 2013

I attended the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) annual forecast and conference last week and am here to pass on the depths of wisdom learned from a day spent with thousands of realtors (okay, I skipped out early before the “comedy hour” and, worse, “networking hour”, but I did pick up all of the best parts… market predictions, technology/innovation keynote speaker and legal panel)

For a copy of the full forecast package (if you like graphs, stats and other nerdy things, you will love this pdf), please email me and I will send it directly to you.

First, the main predictions for 2013 in bite-size format:

GDP Growth: 3.3% (same as 2012)

Net Migration: 15,000 (down from 19,000)

Average 5-year mortgage rate: 4.76% (up 0.5%)

Total Single-family Sales: 15,381 (up 1.8%)

Single-family Benchmark Price: $437,449 (up 3%)

Total Condo Sales: 3,613 (up 3.2%)

Condo Benchmark Price: $250,872 (up 2.4%)

As inventory levels remain low, we could see the market start to heat up fairly quickly with the excitement of spring and some industry members feel the price increases forecast by CREB are too conservative. Our in-house economist was still concerned about global factors influencing growth here in Canada and the Bank of Canada announced yesterday that their national outlook is not looking as bright for 2013 as previously thought.

Mixed opinions out there indicate that no one really knows what will happen in Calgary this year, but I feel that we are in one of the best-positioned cities for economic growth this year.

If you have questions about what any of the above terms mean or how they affect your plans for the year, I would be happy to enjoy a hot cup of caffeine and discuss.

My favourite speaker of the day was a gent named David Eaves (eaves.ca) who works with governments and companies to help them use open data to create fantastic tools and solutions. Relating this to real estate, he talked about how much information is available openly on the internet for free that may be of interest to home buyers and sellers as well as how open innovation could change the landscape of the real estate industry as the public becomes more informed.

He highlighted examples of cool online tools, including a website that maps how much air pollution is in your area, walkability scores and one interesting website (seeclickfix.com) that is not being actively used by the City of Calgary yet but is used by hotspots including Grande Prairie, AB! As a member of the public, you can report anything you see around town that needs attention  – potholes, graffiti, crimes, vehicles parked illegally – and the city will turn your red flag on the map to green when they have fixed it.

As a homebuyer, you could set up a watch for a specific neighbourhood and see how many issues come up in your desired area and how quickly they are responded to. As a seller, you could report issues that might be of concern to buyers before listing your home.

I will be looking to continually incorporate new technologies into my business to give my customers the best experience possible. In 2012, I was excited to go paperless now that stylus-to-tablet signatures are being legally regarded as equivalent to pen-to-paper signatures on real estate contracts. Negotiating becomes quicker and more secure when we find that perfect house, especially in a hotter market where time is of the essence.

I am looking forward to a great 2013 in Calgary and hope you are too. I welcome any of your thoughts about whether CREB’s forecast sounds optimistic, pessimistic or just right.