Calgary is one of only a handful of markets across Canada that has seen seven per cent and more year-over-year price growth for residential real estate, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

In a resale housing survey of markets across the country for February, released Thursday, the board said the city, along with Regina, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Halifax and Newfoundland, experienced year-over-year price growth of seven per cent or more for the latest three months.

On a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, sales in Calgary of 25,416 are up 2.0 per cent in February from last year while listings have dropped by 5.1 per cent to 40,308.

The average sale price in Calgary was $438,412, up 6.1 per cent from February 2012.

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A significant change has taken place in Calgary’s downtown office market with a whopping increase of sublet space in the first quarter of this year.

In Calgary, the sublet percentage of vacant space in the downtown market rose to 43.3 per cent this quarter from 8.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.

Nationally, there is 11.3 million square feet of office construction in downtown markets. The national vacancy rate is 6.2 per cent, up from 6.1 per cent in the previous quarter.

Toronto has the lowest downtown vacancy rate in the country at 4.7 per cent followed by Vancouver at 4.1 per cent.

In Calgary, the average Class A rent for downtown space was $40.53 per square foot, down from $40.58 in the last quarter. However, it was still higher than the $35.51 average rent in the first quarter of 2012.

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While Canada got a decline in manufacturing sales in January, Alberta saw the sector inflated, hitting $6.3 billion and increase of 6.3 per cent, corresponding to Statistics Canada.

According to a report Tuesday by the federal agency, that sales in the province were the largest growth since November 2011. They also topped the nation in development.

Year-after-year, sales in the province remained flat.

Nationally, manufacturing sales dropped 0.2 per cent in January to $48.0 billion, the fourth decline in five months. Sales in January were down in the transportation equipment industry as well as the oil and coal product industry. Overall, seven of 21 industries posted lower sales in January, representing about 52 per cent of the manufacturing sector.

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New home prices in the Calgary region were on the rise in January.

According to a report Thursday by Statistics Canada that its New Housing Price Index for the Calgary census metropolitan area was up 3.3 per cent from a year ago and it had also grew by 0.5 per cent from December.

Nationally, the NHPI climbed by 2.2 per cent on an annual basis and by 0.1 per cent month-over-month.

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Canada is anticipated to experience a gradual, modest, downward housing market adjustment over the next 3 years with a “measly” two per cent annual price gain over the next decade, says a study released Monday by TD Economics.

But the bank has also listed Calgary as an “out-performer” in Canada for the long-run rate of return on Canadian real estate. Compared with the national picture, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto were also listed as out-performers for the future.

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Total housing starts in the Calgary region fell by 33.4 per cent in February compared from a year ago, reported by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The agency reported Friday that starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area were 896 for the month.

Single-detached starts of 486 were off by 0.8 per cent while multi-family starts of 410 dropped by 52 per cent compared with February 2012.

Year-to-date, total starts in the region of 1,615 are down 24.2 per cent from the same period in 2012. That’s a result of the multi-family sector being off by 32 per cent (888 units). However, the single-detached market is up 12.2 per cent to 927 starts this year.

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The apartment sector will be driving most of the overall moderation in housing starts in 2013 across the country with only Calgary forecast to escape the downturn, says a new report by Altus Group.

Altus Group said apartment starts in Calgary were 4,000 in 2012 and are forecast to boost to 4,100 in 2013 before falling slightly in 2014 to 3,600.

The report said that at the end of December there were 4,424 new condo apartment units under construction, up from 3,837 in 2011. Sales rose from 2,482 in 2011 to 2,825 in 2012. And the number of completed but unabsorbed units fell from 285 in 2011 to 254 in 2012.

In the resale housing market, condo apartment sales year-to-date until the end of February are up 13.65 per cent compared from last year, rising from 425 MLS transactions in 2012 to 483 this year.

The average sale price has also jumped by 4.75 per cent from $271,658 to $284,551.

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American-based agency Fitch says house prices are overvalued by approximately 20 per cent in real terms across Canada, with regional variations.

But in releasing its ratings on Monday, it said Alberta’s market is overvalued by 15 per cent.

Fitch said rises in prices have remained with small corrections since 1996, and specifically since 2008 have risen when underlying fundamentals suggest that growth is unsupportable.

It said the Ontario market is overvalued by 21 per cent, Alberta by 15 per cent, British Columbia by 26 per cent and Quebec by 26 per cent.

The Fitch Ratings “exposure draft” details a “new loan-level model for estimating losses on prime Canadian residential mortgage pools.”

Prices in Calgary’s resale housing market continue to rise as an all-time average sale price record was set in February, dominating the mark which has stood since the boom in July 2007.

According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the average MLS sale price for a single-family home during the month was $518,452, up 10.30 per cent from last year while the average price for overall MLS sales in the city was $457,120, up 7.46 per cent year-over-year.

The previous single-family home record high for average sale price was $506,671 in July 2007 and it was $452,589 in July 2007 as well for overall MLS sales in the city.

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According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the average MLS sale price for a single-family home during the month was $518,452, up 10.30 per cent from last year while the average price for overall MLS sales in the city was $457,120, up 7.46 per cent year-over-year.

The past single-family home record high for average sale price was $506,671 in July 2007 and it was $452,589 in July 2007 as well for overall MLS sales in the city.

Total Calgary MLS sales of 1,711 in February were down 1.21 per cent from a year ago while single-family home sales drop by 5.62 per cent to 1,209.

In the condo apartment category, sales boost by 13.41 per cent to 279 but the average sale price dipped by 0.40 per cent to $287,830.

And in the condo townhouse sector, sales were up 8.78 per cent to 223 and the average sale price increased by 8.50 per cent to $336,406.

Benchmark prices, which CREB reports as typical properties sold, rose in all housing categories: total residential, 8.25 per cent, $396,100; single-family, 9.31 per cent, $442,500; condo apartment, 5.95 per cent, $252,900; and condo townhouse, 4.62 per cent, $283,000.

Prices during the month were buoyed by very strong activity in the luxury home market.

According to Mike Fotiou, associate broker with First Place Realty in Calgary, there were 63 properties that sold for $1 million or more during the month, a 50 per cent hike from last year, and a record amount for a February.

The month also had the $10.35 million sale of a home in Aspen Woods which set the all-time record for an MLS sale in the city.

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On Wednesday, a luxurious home described as a ‘French castle’ has set a record for the highest ever MLS sale price in Calgary as the property in Aspen Woods sold for $10.35 million.

The two-storey home, listed by realtor Corinne Poffenroth, was built in 2010 and had a list price of $11.495 million.

It was originally listed in July 2011 at $12 million.

The sale dominates the previous record high of $10.3 million in August 2009 when the two-storey home, in Elbow Park/Glencoe, of former Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Vernon was sold.

The buyers of the French castle are Larry and Kristi Lindholm. Larry is an oil industry executive in Calgary.

The luxury home market has been exceptionally strong in the past year or so with sales placing a yearly record in 2012 and activity continuing at a healthy pace so far this year.

The continued strength of the luxury market is an indicator of business confidence growing in the city, said Don Campbell, senior analyst and founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network.

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