Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Karen Guy, West Kelowna REALTOR ~ Canadian home sales pull back in January

OTTAWA – February 15, 2012 – According to statistics[1] released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national resale housing activity retreated in January 2012 from the strong finish reported for December 2011.


•Home sales were down 4.5% from December to January.

•Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity came in 4.0% above levels in January 2011, and stood even with the 5 and 10 year averages for January sales.

•The number of newly listed homes edged down 1.4% from December to January.

•With sales down by more than new listings, the national market shifted further into balanced territory.

•The national average home price was up less than 2% year-over-year in January, ranking it among the smallest increases of the past year.

Sales activity recorded through the MLS® Systems of real estate Boards and Associations in Canada fell 4.5 per cent from December 2011 to January 2012. This marks the first monthly decline in national activity since August 2011 and the biggest monthly decline since July 2010. The monthly decline reversed a string of monthly increases over the closing months of last year, and returned national activity to where it stood at the end of the third quarter of 2011.

“The national housing market is stabilizing and remains well balanced,” said Gary Morse, CREA’s President. “That said, forecasts for economic and job growth going forward vary widely for different parts of the country, suggesting a possible continuation of a softening trend in some markets, as well as the potential that demand will pick up based on strong fundamentals in others. All real estate is local, so talk to your local REALTOR® to understand how price trends in your neighbourhood are shaping up.”

Activity was down in over half of all local markets in January from the previous month. Led by declines in Greater Toronto and Montréal, demand also softened in a number of other major urban centres including the Fraser Valley, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Greater Vancouver.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales activity was up four per cent from year-ago levels in January, the smallest year-over-year increase since last May. As was the case in a number of months last year, actual sales in January 2012 stood close to the five and ten year average for the month.

The number of newly listed homes edged down 1.4 per cent on a month-over-month basis in January following a 2.9 per cent increase in December. The monthly decline in new supply reflects a drop in new listings in a number of Canada’s largest urban centres, which offset a jump in new listings in Vancouver.

Sales fell in January shifting the national market back towards the mid-point of balanced territory and reversing the recent trend which had seen the market becoming tighter over the final four months of 2011. The national sales-to-new listings ratio, a measure of market balance, stood at 53.8 per cent in January, down from 55.5 per cent in December and 55.4 per cent in November.

Based on a sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40 to 60 per cent, 60 per cent of local markets were balanced in January. Compared to December, there were fewer buyers’ and sellers’ markets, and a greater number of balanced markets.

The number of months of inventory stood at six months at the end of January on a national basis, up from 5.7 months in December 2011 and returning it to where it stood in October 2011. The number of months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, and is another measure of the balance between housing supply and demand.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in January 2012 was $348,178, representing an increase of 1.2 per cent from its year-ago level. This ranks among the smallest increases since late 2010.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the national average home price rose 1.6 per cent on a month-over-month basis, marking a rebound from a decline of similar magnitude in December. This pattern mirrors the one playing out in the newly-launched MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), published on February 6.

“Year-over-year comparisons in the national average price are expected to become volatile and may turn negative, reflecting average price developments in the first half of 2011 in Vancouver,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “At that time, high-end home sales in Vancouver’s priciest neighbourhoods surged to all-time record levels, which skewed the national average price upward considerably. A replay of this phenomenon is not expected this year. As a result, comparisons for national average price to year-ago levels over the coming months will reflect an upwardly skewed base effect. For this reason, year-over-year comparisons should be kept in perspective. Developments in the MLS® HPI will provide important guidance on price trends, since it is not affected by the problem of compositional shifts in the mix of sales activity.”

The MLS® HPI also takes into account the contributions toward the price of a home made by a broad range of quantitative and qualitative housing features, allowing it to track Canadian home price trends better than any other measure.

1 All figures in this release except average price are seasonally adjusted. Removing normal seasonal variations enables meaningful analysis of monthly changes and fundamental trends.



PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national MLS® sales information from the previous month.

CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighborhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

MLS® is a co-operative marketing system used only by Canada’s real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 100,000 REALTORS® working through more than 100 real estate Boards and Associations.

For more information, please contact:

Media only:

Pierre Leduc
Media Relations
Tel.: 613-237-7111 or 613-884-1460
E-mail: pleduc@crea.ca All other requests:

Janet Lemoine
MLS® Statistics Coordinator
E-mail: jlemoine@crea.ca

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty

C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Karen Guy, West Kelowna Real Estate ~ More Mortgage Rule Changes

Economists: Bet on more mortgage rule changes

By Vernon Clement Jones | 21/02/2012 4:00:00 PM | 2 comments
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A new poll suggests economists are increasingly convinced the government will move to ratchet down mortgage rules in 2012 – that even as the broker channel ramps up lobbying efforts to block the move.

Some 10 of 14 economists and strategists surveyed for Reuter’s first poll on the Canadian housing sector last week said Ottawa does, indeed, seem poised to tighten mortgage rules within the next 12 months.

Moreover, they believe that intervention is likely to come as early as the busy spring season.

That opinion may be reflected in their projections for home prices this year, with respondents predicting a mere 0.1 percent climb for this year and again in 2013. That’s down from last year’s near-1 per cent price growth.

The poll results may only add to broker concerns that the federal government is planning to reduce the maximum amortization for CMHC-insured mortgages to 25 years instead of the current 30.

Brokers are already concerned that the CMHC has effectively moved to discourage lenders from growing their business-for-self portfolios.

Earlier this month, the Crown corporation warned lenders they’ll face increasingly limited access to bulk insurance for their conventional loans as the CMHC’s $600 billion fund comes within 10 per cent of its government-set ceiling. At the same time, documents from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions revealed the regulator’s concerns over mortgage lending for self-employeds and lender underwriting standards on those loans.

Economists polled by Reuters are suggesting more formal rule changes are in the works. Industry analysts are betting on that chop in the amortization cap and/or an increase in the cost of mortgage insurance.

CAAMP is now actively lobbying against any such move, with its CEO twice travelling to Ottawa this month to deliver that message to Finance committee members in person.

It has also crafted a new industry report documenting what could well be at stake with further tightening of the country’s mortgage rules --  detailing the economic impact of the housing and mortgage industry.

“We want the government to be aware of the economic and job contribution that housing and the real estate industry provide,” said CAAMP CEO Jim Murphy, coming off a second visit to Parliament Hill. ”CAAMP, based on current data and research, sees no need to further tighten or restrict access to residential mortgages at this time.”

The new report by CAAMP Chief Economist Will Dunning is bringing that point home by identifying all the ways that the Canadian housing sector is a significant economic driver.

Housing and mortgage activities, along, “could account for more than 1.35 million direct and indirect jobs about 8 per cent of total Canadian employment,” writes Dunning. “The housing and mortgage industry has been particularly important to job creation these past five years.”

The report estimates that from 2006 to 2011, 18 per cent of all job creation occurred as a direct and indirect result of growth in the housing and mortgage sector.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty ~ Starring yours truly and a few other great REALTORS from my office

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001


Toughest to track: How to measure social media success

You’re on Facebook. You’re on Google Plus. You’re on Twitter. You even figured out what Quora is.
You know how many followers you have on all of these channels.
So what?
Right now, “the million-dollar question is, how do you figure out return on investment of social media?” says Frank Falcone, co-founder and executive program director of the Centre for CRM Excellence at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
In this Web Strategy series, we've looked at audience measurement on the Web. Now we turn to the hardest area for analytics to track: social media.
Starting from the beginning
Traditionally, businesses use return on investment as part of their planning process. It’s a calculation to see if an idea is worth doing by measuring the cost of the investment against the expected success.
But somehow, when it comes to social media, businesses have gotten ROI all wrong, says Scot Wheeler, Chicago-based senior director of marketing science at digital marketing agency Critical Mass.
He says too many businesses have approached social ROI backwards. Instead of doing the calculations before taking action, many businesses spend time or money to get Facebook or Twitter presence and then look at metrics after the fact.
Instead, metrics should be used from the beginning, along with a greater understanding of what a business can actually get out of the social Web.
Social media shouldn’t be a goal in and of itself – it’s a tactic a business can use to reach an objective, such as selling more widgets or improving customer service. It’s the difference between: “We need a Facebook page” and “We need to learn more about our customers through our Facebook page.”
Small businesses can be especially prone to jumping too quickly on social media trends without enough consideration, Mr. Wheeler says.
“People feel they have to get into it or they’ll be left behind … but then they may overcompensate by putting in too big an investment,” he says.
Businesses small and large have been prone to get overly excited by social media because they see it as a free television channel to reach consumers.
But with every individual and corporation rushing in, social media has gotten crowded. “It’s the opposite of TV; you don’t demand anyone’s attention,” Mr. Wheeler says. “The world doesn’t need another Facebook page or Twitter account.”
What to look for
At its heart, the best thing about social media is the conversation. It’s a chance to interact and get to know your customers.
It also gives patrons a chance to talk about your business with their social circles – which can be both good and bad. It’s good if they recommend your restaurant’s new tuna salad, but bad if it gave them food poisoning.
How do you measure that? The idea of controlling the public conversation has often been the domain of public relations agencies, but that’s ill-suited to the number-based Web world.
“It’s a whole new set of metrics,” Mr. Falcone says.
“Some of it you can’t even put numbers around. It’s a combination of quantitative and qualitative data points.”
There are five key criteria for gauging a business’s social media reach, according to Mr. Falcone:
1. Volume. How much people are talking about your product, service or topic.
2. Tone. Whether people are talking about you in a positive, negative or neutral way.
3. Coverage. How many sources are generating the conversation.
4. Influence level of source. The authority of the people talking about you can raise the quality of your reach.
5. Share of conversation. Within your topic or industry, how much of the conversation is about you.
Putting a number to sentiment is the hard part
Sites like Klout measure general popularity, but don’t give much detail and can easily be gamed to produce higher scores. Radian6, one of the biggest social media trackers, has a full suite of social analytics that are expensive and aimed at enterprises. Hootsuite, a tool for managing multiple social media accounts, has some sentiment analysis options from developer Lymbix.
There are ways to calculate the monetary value of your fans. You can figure out how much more an engaged fan is worth to you – such as whether he or she is more likely to spend twice as much as a casual fan – and compare that to your social-media costs to see whether it was worth recruiting them. But putting a value on your engaged fan in the first place can require surveys or other investments.
What a small business can do
Before a small business gets worried about diving too deep into these unknown waters, there are some simple steps that can help. (It’s worth noting that most social-media experts admit that social analytics are still in their infancy.)
People use platforms in different ways. Twitter users tend to be more engaged than Facebook users, for example, which can be attributed to the ease of replying to someone with a tweet or Twitter’s fast-paced nature. So while you may have fewer followers are Twitter, they’re likely to be worth more to you.
Mr. Wheeler recommends location-based social channels, like Foursquare, as excellent opportunities for small businesses with a physical location.
A coffee-shop owner, for instance, could transition his or her loyalty program from a card that’s stamped 10 times to a location-based social media service for customers who check in at the coffee shop 10 times.
That simple step serves the same loyalty purpose, while also advertising the shop to all of that customer’s friends. It’s free, and creates a new advertising channel by taking advantage of customers who are already coming in.
Some tech watchers say 2011 was the year of social media, and 2012 will be the year of social metrics. If so, the year is just beginning.
Other stories can be found on the Web Strategy section of the Report on Small Business website.
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I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty

C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Kelowna Real Estate Agent West Kelowna Karen Guy Realtor