The global economy may be hurting, but locally things are not nearly as bad as much of the media would have you believe. Total number of homes being constructed in the City of Lethbridge declined, but this is offset partially by numerous homes being built in surrounding towns and villages. In addition, there have been several commercial and industrial construction projects which have added stimulus to the local economy.
Aside from the slow down towards the end of 2008 and the small decline in prices, the real estate market remains active for those who are out there still trying to make a go of it.
For those who wish to buy or sell real estate, make sure you surround yourself with people who are aware of the current marketplace, market trends, and market prices. Those who fall victim to bad advice from uneducated or inexperienced 'professionals' will regret not doing their homework.
Here is a most recent article from the Lethbridge Herald:
| Written by Dave Mabell
|Monday, 12 January 2009
Lethbridge home construction, a bellwether of the economic times, dipped 39 per cent last year.
But commercial, institutional and industrial projects roared ahead, pushing the city’s 2008 building totals to a record $225.9 million by year’s end.
And while the number of single-family homes started in Lethbridge during the year slipped to 448 — down significantly from the all-time high of 739 in 2007 — another 300-plus were started outside the city in the County of Lethbridge, moderating the drop in the Lethbridge census area to 17 per cent.
“The $225 million was more than we’d anticipated,” says Bary Beck, corporate initiatives director at city hall and responsible for building permits and inspections. “It was a strong year,” even though momentum slowed late last year.
While homes built outside city limits don’t count in the city reports, Beck points out they still mean work for Lethbridge trades people and sales for local suppliers.
“We certainly like to see that,” he says. “It helps southern Alberta’s economy as a whole.”
At the same time, year-end statistics show the number of duplex housing permits issued in Lethbridge grew from 41 in 2007 to 55 last year. And the value of apartment projects begun advanced slightly to $10.4 million.
Condos and multi-family projects dropped from 163 permits for $9.9 million in 2007 to 57 permits for $4.8 million last year, however. But overall, the city’s home starts, renovations or additions directly added nearly $80 million to the city’s economy.
While he’s not ready to predict how many new homes will be started in 2009, Beck says builders should see building lots — currently in short supply — become more readily available later in the year. Up to six new neighbourhoods, providing 2,500 to 3,000 lots, are included in new outline plans being prepared by land developers and city officials.
Two or three of those subdivisions should be ready to proceed this year, he adds.
“So we’ll see new lots come on the market in 2009-10.”
Beck says the city’s land department will also release new lots in RiverStone and SunRidge, its publicly developed neighbourhoods.
While the Lethbridge census area’s housing starts were down from 2007 — Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reports covering the city and its surrounding census area show there were a record 920 single-family starts that year — last year’s 760 starts show southern Albertans were affected less by the boom-and-bust cycles that hit Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton.
Single-family starts fell 43 per cent in the Calgary census area, the agency reports, but they plummeted 62 per cent in Red Deer and 66 per cent in metro Edmonton. By comparison, Medicine Hat census area’s reduction — at 398 homes, down about 18 per cent — was similar to Lethbridge although Brooks (with 76 starts reported) dropped 28 per cent.
Hardest hit, the CMHC report shows, were resource-based communities including Cold Lake (down to 52 homes last year vs. 256 a year earlier) and Fort McMurray (down from 946 to 681). But Grande Prairie — where Lethbridge home builders have been active in recent years — saw just a 16 per cent drop from the 784 homes built a year earlier.
In Lethbridge, meanwhile, $74 million worth of government or institutional projects helped push 2008 permit totals more than $5 million ahead of the 2007 tally. New buildings at the University of Lethbridge, a start on the cancer radiation clinic at Chinook Regional Hospital and the new westside high schools were among projects underway during the year.
New commercial projects or renovations added a further $36 million to the total, including retail outlets at the north and south ends of town. And the city’s diversified industrial base saw a further $33 million investment in new facilities or additions.
Despite economic distress in the fall, the city issued building permits totalling $225.9 million last year, up more than $5 million from a year earlier. The city didn’t break the $200-million mark until 2006, the year 703 single-family homes helped boost the overall total to $207 million.
Looking ahead, Beck expects another good year for institutional projects in Lethbridge.
“We keep in touch with our colleagues” in other government-related agencies, so there are few surprises there.
“Commercial projects are harder to predict,” he says. But already, development staff members are working on building permits for several new projects. “They’re not insubstantial.”
With more home being build at the west end of Whoop-Up Drive, while contractors continue work on two high schools and a public library, Beck reports there are also developers interested in the new commercial area planned nearby — although it’s not certain projects will proceed in 2009.
“That’s really decided by the developers.”
Robert May is a Realtor, as well as the broker and owner of Rainbow Realty of Lethbridge Alberta. He is also a licensed mortgage associate and financing expert with Canada First Mortgage of Calgary Alberta. He has been in the real estate industry since 1993 and offers full MLS real estate services to Lethbridge and surrounding area, as well as mortgage financing, refinancing/renewals, preapprovals, and home equity financing to Lethbridge and Southern Alberta. He can be found online at www.LethbridgeLoans.com
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Robert W May is a Real Estate Broker in Lethbridge Alberta, having now been in the industry for over 23 years. . He was also a licensed Lethbridge mortgage broker and financing expert with Canada First Mortgage of Calgary Alberta for the past 10 years. He is an industry leader always willing to help train and educate others in how to improve their business models for financial and personal benefit.