Canadians Curbing Spending Help to Slow Debt Increases

Consumer debt in Canada is not rising as fast as in the recent past, and is no longer climbing faster than income rates. It you exclude mortgages, the borrowing of money in the nation for what is called consumer debt is almost in the negative, according to a report released this past Thursday by CIBC.

The report also noted a slight softening in the debt market, which is a positive sign since the debt that is already out there is far too high for comfort. Household credit is showing the slowest increase since 2002, when you consider the year over year numbers. Non-mortgage consumer debt is experiencing increases not seen since early in the 1990s.

In the second quarter, total debt did outpace income, with a 1.8 percent increase over the first quarter of 2010. At the same time income went up by 0.7 percent. As of the end of June, the nation’s household debt was at 11.5 trillion. The debt to income ratio stood at 147 percent. CIBC advised that this was due to mortgage debt, but that consumer debt had pretty much stabilized over the past 12 months.

Bank of Canada also predicts that as household spending decreases, business spending will increase. The improvement in the economy is encouraging companies to hire people and in other ways expand. This will ultimately improve the country’s debt to income ratio.

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TD Says Drop in Sales and Home Prices Possible Within Next Few Years

TD Bank is predicting that housing markets across Canada will see a ten percent decrease in prices over the next couple of years. They are calling this a moderate correction. A further prediction is that resales will also slow, due to predicted rising interest rates and a slow growth in household income. Fewer first time buyers will be getting into the market because of stiffer mortgage rules. But Sonya Gulati and Derek Burlton, who co-authored the report, believe that the market and demand for homes will remain positive through the end of 2011.

The housing market has helped Canada get out of the recession at a fast pace, and has been a major factor in the country’s economy. Other nations, such as the United States, have seen their economies stagnate, and their real estate markets tumble. Now Canada’s market is expected to cool, but not too quickly. Fears of growing household debt are one big issue.

TD is expecting the average price for a home nationwide will drop 7.4 percent by the end of 2011, compared to the $367,000 average price seen at the end of 2010. By the end of 2013, the average price is expected to be $329,000 per home. Resale homes are expected to see a 15.2 percent drop in sales. The amount of the drop will vary regionally, with higher priced markets in Toronto and Vancouver expected to see the largest drops. Regina, Edmonton and Calgary are expected to see slight drops.

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Kilimanjaro the Goal of Soldier Injured in Afghanistan

Cpl Mark Fuchko walks with two artificial limbs. In 2008 he lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan. The vehicle he was riding in exploded after hitting an IED. After three years of recovery and rehab, the plucky Calgarian has decided that it would be fun to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Fuchko is determined to get to the summit, even if he has to climb up on his hands and knees.

The idea for this climb came about as a way to raise money for the Orthopedic Surgery Centre in Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital. Some 34 doctors and business professionals, along with Fuchko and three other wounded solders will be attempting to climb Africa’s highest peak, standing some 19,340 feet above the plains. The group is hoping to raise over $575,000. Fuchko got interested in the project because of what the centre does, rebuilding knees and hips for civilians and the military.

Climbers each have to raise at least $5,000 and in addition, pay for the cost of their trip. The Soldier on Fund organization, that funds grants to Canadian Forces personnel that are injured or sick, is covering the trip costs for Fuchko and his military climbing mates. The other soldiers going are Cpl. Dallas White, Cpl Lucas Mullens and Warrant Officer Quinn Begg. All received serious leg injuries while on patrol in Kandahar.

The group went on a practice climb in Jasper Alberta in June, and though it wasn’t easy, the soldiers made it to the top. They also talked to some American soldiers that climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, some of which were amputees and found out that it is possible. Fuchko and his mates also have an advantage over the other climbers; they are used to surviving in the outdoors.

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More Homes Being Sold in Edmonton, Prices Just a Bit Lower

June sales in Edmonton’s home real estate market improved in June, perhaps spurred on by the lower home prices now being seen. The Realtors Association of Edmonton released a report this past Tuesday noting that sales for June of 2011 were 7.6 percent higher than during the same month in 2010. The total amount sold was $584 million.

This past June saw 3,260 homes listed in the MLS system and 1,768 sales, creating a 54 percent sales ratio. In June of 2010, 3,339 homes were listed and 1,619 changed hands, with a ratio of 48 percent. Prices went down roughly a half percent, coming in at an average of $330,297 per unit.

In the single-family home category, MLS sales went up 15.1 percent for a total of 1,165 homes changing hands, up from the 1,012 seen in June of 2010. The average sales price went down 2.86 percent to roughly $379,409 per unit. The median price for this category went up about one percent over 2010, coming in at $361,888. Condo sales, on the other hand, saw little change, with this year bringing in 482 sales and last June counting 486. The average condo selling price dipped more than five percent, with the average being $231,852 per unit this past June.

Dan Sumner, with ATB Financial does not foresee Edmonton, or Alberta in general seeing a huge fluctuation in prices, either up or down. This is attributed to the strong economy, more people coming into the province for work, and the market being a fairly level playing field. There is also the probability that mortgage rates will eventually rise.

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Summer is Renovation Season in Edmonton

The snow has melted, the sun is out, well, usually, and its time to fix up that backyard, build that deck or create a new doggie condo for your four-legged best friend. The Saturday crowds at the local building stores are evidence enough that Edmontonians are tackling those do-it-yourself projects.

Building season in the Edmonton area usually starts in April and runs until sometime in October. But we humans do not have the final say on that calendar. This year has been colder than normal and the snow stuck around a good two to three weeks longer. Mother Nature, one. Human population, better luck next year.

But the renovations are now in full swing, with composite decks being one of the early favourites. They are relatively easy to install and require little maintenance. This year bathroom renovations, usually a winter project, are still going strong. It usually costs less to upgrade a bathroom rather than a kitchen and still increases home value.

Some of the innovative ideas people are coming up with include building a mini-deck for a tree house that is suitable for very young children, creating a patio out of quarry stones, and even fixing up that storybook white picket fence.

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