Calgary’s housing market is having positive momentum and is a “lone shining star” in the Western Canadian real estate market, according to a report by TD Economics.

TD called Calgary’s situation ideal in comparison to what’s happening in Vancouver with the resale housing market seeing sales decrease there by 26 per cent in 2012. Calgary was the only one among its peers to register positive sales growth in 2012 at 14.3 per cent.

TD said average home prices will rise from $411,927 in 2012 to $423,400 this year and then to $431,400 in 2014. Those include all residential homes in Calgary and surrounding neighborhood.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is predicting MLS sales in the Calgary CMA to rise by 1.37 per cent this year followed by another 2.59 per cent in 2014.

The average sale price is expected to boost by 2.59 per cent this year to $423,000 and by another 2.6 per cent in 2014 to $434,000.

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The Greater Calgary real estate market accelerated its recovery from 2009, rising by 81 per cent in terms of overall investment dollar volume in 2012 from the previous year, says a report by RealNet Canada.

The real estate data services company said there were 445 transactions over $1 million during the year totalling $4.84 billion.

RealNet said every commercial real estate sector, with the exception of hotels, saw year-over-year increases.

The office market gained by 45 per cent to $1.6 billion followed by residential land with a huge 349 per cent hike to $770.7 million and retail which grew by 61 per cent to $724.3 million.

Other sectors with their dollar volume and percentage change from the year before were: industrial, $611.4 million, 36 per cent; apartment, $468.4 million, 254 per cent; industrial land, $564.7 million, 108 per cent.

The hotel sector dropped by one per cent to $83.7 million.

The investment market peaked in 2007 with sales totalling just over $5 billion.

As global demand for natural resources continues to increase, Calgary is expected to be further transformed into an international market, according to a 2012 report by CBRE Limited.

Recently, Calgary’s commercial real estate market was listed as the best one in Canada for total annual return on investment.

A report by the Real Property Association of Canada and Investment Property Databank Canada said Calgary had a return of 19.0 per cent in 2012 followed by Edmonton at 17.5 per cent and Winnipeg at 16.8 per cent. Total return for Canada was 14.1 per cent.

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Calgary experienced a housing market renaissance in 2012, reaping the benefits of strong provincial GDP and in-migration, which propelled home resales in the area, reported by RBC Economics Research on Monday.

The latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report listed Calgary as one of the more affordable housing markets in Canada.

The RBC housing affordability measures capture the pre-tax household income needed to service the costs of owning a home at market values.

In Calgary, the average price of a detached bungalow in the fourth  quarter of 2012 was $440,600 and the affordability measure was 38.1 per cent. The typical price for a standard two-storey home was $434,700 with a measure of 38.6 per cent and for a standard condo the average price was $250,100 with a measure of 22.2 per cent.

RBC said Alberta’s housing market stayed vibrant in the final quarter of 2012, buoyed by attractive affordability levels, accelerating population growth, a healthy labor market and a strong provincial economy. Although the pace of home resales slowed in the closing months of 2012, the housing market tightened up as fewer properties were listed for sale, it said.

The RBC housing affordability measures for the province fell across all 3 housing types tracked by RBC. RBC’s measures for the benchmark detached bungalow and the standard two-storey fell by 0.2 percentage points to 32.1 per cent and 34.7 per cent, respectively. The measure for condominium apartments fell by 0.1 percentage points to 19.7 per cent. Average prices were: bungalow, $357,900; two-storey, $378,800; and condo, $213,300.

Across the country, affordability measures dropped by 0.2 percentage points for both bungalows (42.1 per cent) and condos (28.0 per cent) and by 0.3 percentage points for two-storey homes (47.8 per cent). Average prices in Canada in the fourth quarter of 2012 were: bungalow, $363,400; two-storey, $410,600; and condos, $237,600.

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While Canadian home sales dipped in January, specially in major centers like Toronto and Vancouver, Calgary’s housing market remained strong and posted the best year-over-year growth in the country for MLS transactions.

The Canadian Real Estate Association reported Friday that Calgary MLS sales during the month were 1,572, up 20.2% from January 2012 while sales across the nation were down by 5.2% to 23,579 transactions.

The average sale price in Calgary rose by 9.5 per cent to $418,938 while in Canada it was up 2.0 per cent to $354,754.

Alberta had the best sales growth of any province in Canada in January with MLS transactions 12.1% higher than last year at 3,486. The average sale price also grew by 5.5 percent to $361,524.

And Calgary’s housing market is showing no signs of slowing down in February. Month-to-date from February 1-14, total MLS sales in the city of 847 are 11.01 per cent higher than for the same period last year and the average sale price has increased by 8.33 per cent to $455,386, reported by Calgary Real Estate Board.

Calgary’s housing market has experienced the profit of an overall healthy economy in the past year.

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Both housing prices and sales went up during January this year with the average selling price up by 12.74 % over last January's figures. The average sales price for a Calgary single-family home was $496,579.

In the single-family Calgary real estate market, this was the 5th highest price ever seen in any month. In July 2007 the peak was hit with a price tag for single-family homes sitting at $506,670.

There was moderate growth in pricing in Calgary last year as Alberta as a whole showed that it's the province that’s rich in commodities that can hold its own in the real estate market. It's important to remember, still, that in the luxury market a record number of homes were sold last year that were selling for $1 million or more. This definitely had some effect on the average pricing number for homes sold.

January sales for condominium apartments

There was a 13.97% hike in the number of condo apartment sales during January this year when compared with last year's sales with a total of 204 passing hands. The average price for a condo went up to $280,273 which was a rise of 13.09% over last January.

Taking a look at the townhouse category

According to the CREB, total sales figures for the MLS listings in Calgary in January were up 15.17% to 1,230 when compared to last January's sales. The average sale price for these MLS units rose to $439,671 which was a 12.34% growth. The highest average selling price for the MLS listings during any January was $413,271, which was found back in 2008.

While it is looked that Calgary will see modest growth during 2013 both in the city and on the outskirts, there are a number of different factors that may affect the real estate market. It's possible that 2013 will surpass expectations for growth, but even if things remain modest, the market is expected to remain positive for the upcoming year.

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Last year was an amazing time for the smaller towns and cities on the outskirts of Calgary. In fact, sales were up 21% last year in the housing market, which outpaced even Calgary's sales growth. Cochrane, Okotoks and Airdrie each saw a sales growth in the double digits during the 4th quarter of last year.

The CREB released its figures showing sales increases in Okotoks and Cochrane when compared to the numbers seen in 2011 during the same time period. For Airdrie, however, the numbers decreased by 3% due to a 30% drop in listings. This listings decrease was definitely a limitation for the sales growth potential for Airdrie.

People are heading to the country for the atmosphere and the lower prices. The least expensive homes can be found in Airdrie at a price of $337,067 with Cochrane having the highest price of these three towns with a single-family typical home having a benchmark price of $440,436.The cost of an Airdrie home is almost 21% less than what you'd have to pay for a common home in the city.

According to the chief economist at CREB, Ann-Marie Lurie, homebuyers are doing their due diligence and looking for the most affordable homes possible in the area. As well, she added that you can get more home for your money in these smaller surrounding towns then you would in Calgary.

Homes in the surrounding communities are less expensive for the most part and are becoming increasingly appealing to people as the supply tightens in Calgary for single-family homes.

All of these communities have their own spirit and are worth looking at if you're planning a move to Calgary or are already a resident and are looking for an upgrade. These communities are only going to flourish over the following years and now is the best time to grab yourself a property while the interest rates keep to remain so low.

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You have certain things that you want to do and accomplish once you hit retirement and in order to get them done you're going to need to have enough money by your side. It seems so vague, though, to try to understand how much money you'll really need once you have taken inflation and other factors into account.

If you sit down with a financial advisor you'll often be told that you'll need at least 60% up to 70% of the income that you're earning annually before retirement to live comfortably. This can get a little scary for most Canadian since 70% of the employed here in Canada don't actually have an employer plan for retirement setup. As well, there are only about 33% that are making use of RRSPs every year.

When you retire you don't have the same types of expenses to worry about like raising children, saving for your retirement, mortgage payments and expenses related to employment. When you take these costs out of the equation you'll actually only need about half of your earnings to live on.

As long as you can retire without carrying along a lot of debt baggage you’ll be fine with about 50% of your income since these expenses won't need to be a part of your budget any longer.

If you take a look at what these authors are saying, and they do raise some excellent points, it may make sense for the average Canadian to start paying off more of their debt and investing less in their retirement fund. If you can work towards becoming debt-free while at the same time being able to save for retirement, this would be the ideal setting to reach for.

This also assumes that there will be no major economic changes in the future such as charging for healthcare. As long as that remains stable across the Canadian nation, and there are no major hits in taxes or other financial areas, the average Canadian may not need as much for his retirement as he first believed.

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Do you remember when your mother used to tell you "Every penny saved is a dollar earned?” What are we going to tell our children as they grow up without this penny that has signified how essential it is to save even small amounts to make them grow into larger ones?

On Monday the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa is going to stop the distribution of pennies completely. This leaves merchants in the Calgary area scrambling to change their pricing structure to keep up with the changing times. No longer will items be priced at $7.99 or $99.99. No, prices will either need to be rounded up or rounded down to the closest 5 cents.

According to the mint's website, the Canadian government is adopting this guideline for rounding that is being used in other countries successfully.

In general, current pricing will be rounded down if it ends in 1, 2, 6 or 7 cents while rounding up will occur for items that end in 3, 4, 8 or 9 cents. When you consider that a lot of items you purchase do end with .98 or .99 cents, as a customer are going to be paying extra for the items that need to be rounded up. It's common to see a bottle of shampoo selling for $6.99 but it's rare to find the same bottle selling anywhere for $6.92.

If you really take a good look at the situation, most merchants are going to be ahead of the game while the average consumer will end up paying more. While it's not a lot of money, it still adds up. Remember the saying?

Giving to a good cause

CBC Calgary is holding a penny drive to put those used pennies you have to a good cause. You can drop off your pennies at CBC Calgary located at 1724 Westmount Blvd. NW up until February 8, between 6 AM to 8 PM.

You can also donate your pennies at BMO branches located in:

Aspen Landing
Royal Oak

There will be a sign in the branches for "penny love" and you can just drop all of your pennies in and they will automatically be counted for you. You will be given a receipt that you need to drop into the donation box when you made your donation. All proceeds will be given to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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If you're like most people you want to help out area producers, farmers and suppliers as much as possible. Now, thanks to a new program in Calgary, you can do your part to help back up the people and companies that are working quietly in the background to put food on your table.

The founder and CEO of Localize, Meghan Dear, has started a new project here in Calgary that will show you what produce and other food items have been supplied locally. These products will be coming from Alberta and other parts of Western Canada and will be visibly recognizable on the market shelves next month.

There will be 24 Cooperative stores in the area participating in this new project including the ones in High River, Airdrie and Strathmore. There will be more than 400 various products highlighted with this campaign and as the project progresses it is expected that more supermarkets and suppliers will get involved.

It's easy now to find the products you need that are being supplied locally. There will be labels, bright orange in color, attached to the shelves underneath the food product. This is a unique and innovative project that will help consumers with their food choices to help support local companies and producers.

Shopping locally has become a trend not only here in Calgary but across Canada. People from coast to coast are considering this new trend as a way to support the local economy. It really makes a lot of sense considering it's a win-win situation for both parties involved: the producer get more business and the consumer ends up with fresher produce.

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