Economic growth to jump in Western cities

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A report from the Conference Board of Canada finds that economic growth in the coming years may be strongest in cities in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The firm predicts economic growth in Saskatoon and Regina to top 3 percent this year, with strong gains in population boosting demand for Canadian home loans in the area. Similar results are expected to be seen in Calgary and Alberta, where strong growth in the energy sector will fuel the local economies.

“Buoyed by the resources and energy sectors, the economies of Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton will post noticeably stronger growth than the other cities covered in this report,” said Mario Lefebvre, director of the Centre for Municipal Studies.

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Building permits reach new highs

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Statistics Canada says the value of building permits issued in March reached new recent highs, as construction has picked up significantly in many parts of the country, particularly Ontario.

According to the report, cities issued permits for projects worth $6.8 billion during the month of March, a sharp 17.2 percent increase compared to data from February, and the highest mark reached since June 2007.

Ontario led six provinces which saw increases in the value of residential permits, which jumped more than 33 percent after a pair of consecutive declines. The total value of those permits reached $4 billion during the month.

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Commercial markets in Montreal recovering

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After the city was hard hit by the global recession, a report from Colliers International finds that both the office and industrial markets are improving, which could open the way for an influx of commercial mortgages.

According to the study, the overall office vacancy rate has stabilized around 8 percent as the average rent continues to increase. The average rent is also expected to increase from about $12 per square foot to more than $13 by the end of this year.

“Market fundamentals and industry players all indicate that the Greater Montreal Area office market is on a path to recovery,” said Andrew Maravita, managing director with Colliers International in Montreal. “If the macro-economic conditions continue to improve, after a few years of drought in terms of new inventory, the vision of cranes in Montreal’s skyline is a realistic expectation.”

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Skylines of Montreal, Toronto, have low vacancies

A recent report highlights the strength and stability of the skyline properties in Montreal and Toronto, both of which have seen vacancies and rents bounce off the bottom, providing strong opportunities for buyers.

The report from Jones Lang Lasalle examined the state of skyline properties, which are seen as some of the largest “trophy” properties in the city.

While those properties make up just a portion of all the space available, the firm says they can drive interest in the city for commercial mortgages, and show the overall strength of the market.

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Toronto one of the top global commercial markets

A recent report says Toronto has become one of the top cities in the world for commercial real estate investment.

According to the International Investment Atlas from real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, commercial mortgages in Toronto were used for roughly $4 billion in investment last year, ranking it 13th in the top cities in the world.

The report added Canada as a whole is doing well in terms of commercial property, with investments growing by almost 150 percent last year alone. At the same time, there was a slight increase in supply, creating a larger pool of property investments for those looking at Canadian commercial mortgages to choose from.

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New home prices continue to rise

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Data released by Statistics Canada shows that new home prices continued to grow in January, setting a new record-high.

According to the report, prices nationwide jumped 0.2 percent from December to January, and were 1.9 percent above their levels compared to a year ago.

Nine cities saw price gains on the month, led by Winnipeg, where prices increased by 0.7 percent and are up nearly 6 percent compared to January 2010. Quebec, Toronto, Oshawa and Montreal also saw monthly gains of at least 0.4 percent.

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National home prices rise

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The latest Teranet home price index showed an increase in Canadian home prices during the month of December, as the Canadian mortgage market continues to recover.

According to the report, prices increased by 0.3 percent compared to the previous month, and are now 4.1 percent above their year-ago levels. It was the first monthly increase in the index since August.

Prices increased in five of the six major markets tracked, with Ottawa showing the only decline. The strongest growth was seen in Halifax, where prices increased 3.6 percent. Montreal and Vancouver each gained 0.5 percent, while Toronto prices increased 0.2 percent.

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Strong growth in commercial real estate returns

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After a slow year in 2009, investment in Canadian commercial mortgages increased significantly in 2010, according to a report by the Real Property Association of Canada.

According to the group’s annual property index, real estate investment returns grew by 11.1 percent during the year, a sharp turnaround from a slight decline in 2009 and a slow 3.7 percent increase in 2008.

“A rebound in property values was entirely responsible for boosting the total return back into double-digit territory in 2010,” said Simon Fairchild, managing director of IPD North America. “The return to capital growth last year follows two consecutive years of write-downs worth 9.3 percent at the all property level.”

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Filogix Expert, the Canadian Mortgage Broker’s Preferred Program

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Fliogix Expert is the software platform the majority of mortgage brokers in Canada use to send their applications to lenders in Canada for processing. In the last three months, more than 14,000 different mortgage brokers and 77 lenders used Filogix Expert to submit their mortgage applications in Canada.

Though Filogix Expert dominates the mortgage application platform industry, there are two competitors at this company’s heal: MorWeb and Axcess Canada. It is difficult for smaller companies to break into the platform technology industry. Amassing a wider margin of market share among Canadian mortgage brokers involves convincing both lenders and mortgage brokers that their platform is worth the training time, the implementing efforts and the introduction to clientele. Breaking into the mortgage application platform industry involves a large amount of financial and technological resources.

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BMO States Pricey Houses are not Sign of Bubble

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Housing values in Canada are merely “overvalued”, not facing a housing bubble on the verge of bursting, according to economists at BMO Nesbitt Burns.

The BMO economists are saying that in comparison to the personal incomes of Canadians, Canada property prices are only moderately higher than real value. Mortgage servicing costs for the average Canadian homeowner are still leveling at a normal 34 per cent.

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