Alberta economic boom shows no signs of slowdown Growth leader forecast for 2014
BY MARIO TONEGUZZI, CALGARY HERALD
CALGARY — Alberta’s economic boom is showing little sign of slowing down, according to the latest RBC Economics Provincial Outlook released Thursday.
RBC forecasts that Alberta will continue to be among the fastest-growing provincial economies in 2013 with a real GDP growth rate of 3.5 per cent, second only to Newfoundland & Labrador’s 4.4 per cent.
Alberta will regain the top spot in the country in 2014 with Real GDP growth forecast at 4.2 per cent.
“Alberta is in the midst of an impressive economic boom, with activity in the province surging by 5.1 per cent in 2011 and remaining on the fast track in 2012,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist with RBC. “While massive investment in the energy sector – which was the key catalyst for the economic boom – has been tempered recently, strong capital expenditures and rapid momentum in other sectors will keep the economy moving ahead at a sustained clip.”
But RBC said the mood in the province remains somewhat cautious, as Alberta’s oil sector finds itself increasingly “land locked” due to pipeline bottlenecks. It said major players in the oilsands have cited delivery challenges and a greater than usual discount on wellhead prices as reasons for delays in spending on mega projects.
RBC said these delays have raised some concerns about the sustainability of business investment in the province and it expects major players in the oilsands to remain generally cautious in 2013, keeping spending in a holding pattern while pipeline issues are addressed and crude oil price relationships normalize.
The report said Alberta will benefit from broad-based expansion in 2013, with strong population growth and employment continuing to fuel consumer spending and housing activity showing continued vigour. On the business side, rising demand for commercial and industrial space will support growth in capital spending outside the energy sector.
Economic growth for this year is estimated at 3.8 per cent, the best in Canada, following 2011’s 5.1 per cent which also set the pace for the rest of the country.
“We anticipate that Alberta’s growth will slow modestly next year thanks in large part to the lull in oilsands investment,” added Wright. “However, sufficient progress in resolving these oil delivery issues in 2014 should allow for major projects to proceed, setting the stage for a 4.2 per cent re-acceleration in growth.”
The Canadian economy is forecast to grow by 2.4 per cent in 2013 and 2.8 per cent in 2014 after an estimated 2.0 per cent growth this year.
In its quarter economic forecast released Thursday, TD Economics said Canadian economic growth is expected to edge down to 1.7 per cent in 2013, before picking up to a healthier 2.5 per cent in 2014.
“In Canada, the first half of 2013 is shaping up to be quite soft. Fiscal consolidation in the U.S. alone could shave 0.5 percentage points off Canadian economic growth through lower exports and the knock-on-effects to other areas of the economy,” said TD. “Beyond mid-year, the rebound in the U.S. should help support a modest recovery in Canadian export growth.
“However, the Canadian economy will still face headwinds from a high Canadian dollar, elevated household debt and government restraint.”
Calgary's healthy housing market
Will van ‘t Veld
Economist, ATB Financial
September 6, 2012
After a spring of defying the negative national housing market sentiment, the Calgary market cooled a bit in August. But, Alberta’s largest city remains one the nation’s most solid real estate markets. Back in February, the inventory-to-sales ratio in Calgary began to dip, as sales increased faster than new listings, indicating the market had quickly dipped into sellers’ territory. Buyers have since reversed that trend slightly, with the Calgary Real Estate Board reporting that monthly
sales in August dipped 11.6 per cent month-over-month.The swing in housing market activity can be seen in average residential price changes. That average residential price nudged down to $417,000 in August, a 2.2 per cent drop from July, which is nonetheless 3.1 per cent higher than a year ago. The MLS also computes a benchmark price, which is less volatile. The benchmark price adjusts for specific features, such as lot size, bedrooms and location. The jump in the MLS benchmark price index through 2012 has been pretty impressive, up 6.5 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Activity in the single family detached home market has been particularly strong over the past year, with the MLS benchmark index jumping 7.8 per cent yearover-year in August. This is the main reason the overall residential home price index has increased so noticeably, as detached homes make up the vast majority of residential sales.
For their part, condo and town home prices have been plodding along, with the benchmark price increasing 3.3 and 2.6 per cent, respectively, on an annual basis.
Calgary housing market among Canada’s most affordable: RBC Stronger home resales and new construction
Calgary housing market among Canada’s most affordable: RBC
Stronger home resales and new construction
BY MARIO TONEGUZZI, CALGARY HERALD
CALGARY — The Calgary-area housing market remains one of the most affordable in Canada, according to a report released today by RBC Economics Research.
The latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report said the local market has enjoyed the best of all worlds recently: stronger home resales and home building, moderately rising prices, and attractive and improving affordability.
“Such a combination is a rare feat, but it follows years of sluggish performance in the aftermath of the area’s mid-2000s boom,” said the report. “In the second quarter of 2012, a sharp drop in the costs of utilities provided unusual help to affordability in the area. Utilities and property taxes—two small components of home ownership costs—typically do not sway affordability, but the sudden reversal of earlier electricity rate increases led to a substantial 17 per cent quarterly decline in utilities, which was more than enough to move the affordability needle.”
In the second quarter, the RBC measures edged lower for condominium apartments and two-storey homes by 0.6 percentage points and 0.4 percentage points, respectively, while the measure for detached bungalows was unchanged in Calgary.
“Such general amelioration kept housing affordability in check at some of the better levels among Canada’s largest cities,” said the report.
The RBC Housing Affordability Measure, which has been compiled since 1985, shows the proportion of median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and utilities.
In the second quarter, RBC measures for Calgary edged lower for condominium apartments by 0.6 percentage points to 21.6 per cent and for two-storey homes by 0.4 percentage points to 37.2 per cent. The measure for detached bungalows remained unchanged at 36.7 per cent.
RBC said significant drops in the prices for electricity and natural gas in the second quarter of 2012 in Alberta “further solidified this province’s position as the market with the lowest home ownership costs as a share of household income in Canada.”
The RBC measures eased by 0.6 percentage points for both two-storey homes and condominium apartments, while the measure for detached bungalows edged lower by 0.3 percentage points, it said.
“Alberta experienced a 17 per cent decline in utility costs, which was the largest contributor to across-the-board improvements in housing affordability in the most recent quarter,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist, RBC. “Attractive affordability and a vibrant provincial economy are providing powerful incentives for Alberta homebuyers – second quarter home resales were at the best level in five years, surging 18 per cent over the same period last year.”
The affordablity measures in Alberta were: 32.0 per cent for detached bungalows; 34.8 per cent for two-storey homes; and 19.7 per cent for condominiums.
In Canada, they were: 43.4 per cent for bungalows, up 0.2 per cent; 49.4 per cent for two-storeys, up 0.6 per cent; and 28.8 per cent for condominiums, unchanged.
How the RBC Housing Affordability Measures work
The RBC Housing Affordability Measures show the proportion of median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and utilities on a detached bungalow, a standard twostorey home and a standard condo (excluding maintenance fees) at the going market prices.