First-time home buyers (FTBs) are more tech-savvy than other mortgage consumers when it comes to researching mortgages, says the First-Time Home Buyers Survey, conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The survey says 84% of FTBs went online to search out information about mortgage options and features, compared to 76% for other mortgage consumers (OMCs).

The FTBs were more likely to visit lenders sites (55%) than broker sites (33%), with about one in five saying they visited websites of both lenders and brokers.

FTBs undertook a variety of activities with 80% using a mortgage calculator (72% for OMCs), 63% completing a financial self-assessment (43% for OMCs), 42% either got pre-approved or filled an online form (24% and 23% respectively for OMCs) and 20% engaged in an online conversation (11% for OMCs).

Not surprisingly, the use of mobile devices to access mortgage-related information was more prominent among FTBs (23% vs. 14% among OMCs), however, at 90%, desktops are still the preference of FTBs.

The use of social media as a tool when looking for a mortgage is increasing and was much more prevalent among FTBs.

About one in five using social media posted a review or rating of either a broker or lender and 30% used social media to find a referral to use a specific professional, such as broker, lender, real estate agent or other professional.

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Nearly 12,000 multi-family homes under construction

Not as many nails got ham- mered by new home builders in the Calgary region last month compared to November last year.

Builders started 1,078 new homes in November 2014, down from 1,693 in November 2013, according to the monthly report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

The decrease in construction came in both the single- and multi-family sectors, with single-family starts at 541 homes, down from 595 last year and multi-family starts down from 1,098 units last year to 537 in November.

However, year over year, starts to the end of November this year, 16,291, are 4,603 units higher than to the end of November last year.

A different story exists in the multi-family sector, where 10,224 starts were recorded to the end of November, meaning builders should exceed CMHC’s prediction of 10,500 multi starts this year.

It’s a huge number, given the history of multi starts in the Calgary region, but a bigger number is units under construction.

As of the end of November, there were 11,884 multi-family homes under construction in the region, including 1,188 semi-detached homes, 2,111 row/townhomes and 8,585 apartments.

Inside Calgary city limits, units under construction included 1,010 semi-detached homes, 1,563 row/townhomes and 8,117 apartment condos.

In November, CMHC predicted 8,000 multi-family starts in 2015 — the agency doesn’t break out multi starts by type because the apartment sector is too volatile — but CMHC is reviewing its projections for 2015 and beyond.

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Calgary again posted the country’s biggest annual price growth for repeat home sales in November, the latest Teranet-National Bank house price index shows.

It found prices in the city rose 9.2 per cent from a year ago, compared with the national average of 5.2 per cent from the 11 major centres surveyed. Dwellings that have been sold at least twice are considered in the calculation of the index.

Calgary Real Estate Board data, through Wednesday, show 533 MLS sales for December, a 7 per cent increase from the same 2013 period.

While home prices in Canada’s 11 major cities may have edged down slightly in November, they still remain quite elevated, hovering near record highs.  Moreover, while the decline was fairly broad based, prices in several key cities are well up from year-ago levels.

Going forward, solid momentum in the job market over the past few months, combined with an ultra-low interest rate environment should continue to support the housing market in the near term.

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After several years of declines, active MLS listings in the City of Calgary are on the rebound, according to the monthly report from the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB).

New listings in November outpaced sales, resulting in a 22% increase in active listings but, even with the gain, listings remain below long-term averages.

Over the past year, inventories have been low in the city, limiting some of the choice for consumers. While availability in specific segments and price ranges vary, on the whole, the recent rise in inventories will be welcome news for many buyers.

Year-to-date sales in November recorded double-digit gains in all property types, with the strongest increase coming in the condominium sector, including apartments and townhomes, with a combined growth of more than 19%, putting both housing types at record levels.

Tight market conditions earlier in the year caused significant aggregate price gains. It also resulted in a rise in new listings, supporting gains in inventory levels and a push towards more balanced levels. This has helped ease the upward growth pressure on prices.

While Calgary’s price gains have garnered a significant amount of national attention, several indicators are pointing toward more stable conditions, easing risk associated with an overheating market.

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