Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ottawa's net worth up 6%

Interesting note on how the rapidly increasing real estate markets in other cities have contributed to the networth increase, whereas, Ottawa residents have not had the same benefits.

Average net wealth of Ottawa residents up 6%

A new report by Environics Analytics says households in Ottawa-Gatineau were slightly poorer than the national average in 2012, with a net worth of $393,556. That’s less than the Canadian average of $400,151 - although the capital region’s six per cent spike in net worth was slightly better than the national average inCrease of 5.8 per cent.

Ottawa-Gatineau’s rise in wealth was driven by a low one per cent rise in debt to $129,009, but tempered by a below-average increase in liquid assets of 3.1 per cent to $199,329.

Overall, though, the region ranks far behind the Big Three of Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Vancouver, with its pricey real estate, has an average net worth of $662,600 per household, while Calgary sits second at $620,607 and Toronto is right behind at $617,846.

Even Regina, the capital of what the report calls “the new golden prairie province” of Saskatchewan, is quickly gaining on Ottawa-Gatineau. Driven by a red-hot housing market, the Queen City reported a whopping 11.2 per cent jump in net household worth to $391,826 - the largest increase in Canada in 2012.

It’s the first time in history the average household net worth of Canadians has topped $400,000. The data show the average Canadian household is richer than its U.S. counterpart by about $19,000- though that gap narrowed considerably over the past year. That’s because while Canadian household debt rose modestly by 3.3 per cent, in the U.S. debt actually declined by 2.4 per cent last year.

Published on July 26, 2013

OBJ Staff

Friday, July 26, 2013

Construction techniques

Note halfway up the building, there is a large concrete floor slab.  It is a barrier level between the residential and the commercial levels in a mixed level building.  It has 20 floors of commercial and will have 16 floors on top of residential.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The Bennett Property Shop Realty is Inviting You To:

A Must Attend Event

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When: Thurs. August 15th, 2013

Hors d’oeuvres at 6:30pm

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more details will be provided on registration.

Credit Sheet

This week, the credit sheet, developed by TD Bank was displayed to show the power of changing your banking strategy.  It shows a re-evaluation of your current situation away from high interest debts like credit cards, towards lower interest vehicles.  It displayed how without borrowing any additional monies, with some additional planning and changing interest rates can add up to significant monthly and annual savings.

They showed how a normal customer can save a thousand dollars a month and close to $100,000 over a five year period.  If you would like to have your situation evaluated, I would suggest contacting Lilianne Eid at TD Bank for a meeting -

Mortgage Laddering

Historic low mortgage rates are still available today and depending on whom you speak to, could be here for a while yet.  These rates offer great downside on monthly costs, but as time passes, rates will inevitably rise, maybe not for a few years, but they will rise.

One important item to consider is that as fixed rates rise, variable rates drop and vica versa.  With the recent rally in the bond market, the fixed rate mortgages increased, but at the same time, variable rates dropped.  It is an interesting correlation.

Currently, many mortgage experts are suggesting "mortgage laddering".  It is a unique approach to handling larger mortgages.  Assuming you have a mortgage of $100,000, the suggestion was to break it into four piece of $100,000 and put different terms on each - variable, 1 year, 3 year and 5 year.  This would limit your risk of having all your $400,000 come due at once.  The idea is, if rates in 5 years are now 6%, having $400,000 due at 6% is worse than gradually having money come due every few years at different rates.

I like the strategy of doing 1 year terms and continually rolling your mortgages over.  I know this is too risky for some, so this might be an idea to try.  I suggest speaking to a mortgage professional at a bank to understand if this strategy is for you.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Empirical Proof That Transit Protects or Enhances Your Property Values

By Melanie Reuter

As population increases and a new demographic enters the housing market, there is a growing interest in development around transit nodes. To address quality of life issues connected to traffic congestion, pollution and the rising costs of commuting by vehicle, city planners are encouraging densification around LRT stations in particular.

Increasingly, stakeholders are realizing the value of locating at transit nodes. In recently published research in the US for example, residential properties maintained their values during the latest recession, whereas other properties plummeted in value . Commercial real estate experiences an even greater premium than residential real estate. As evidenced all over North America, consumers are willing to pay more to live in areas that are walkable, accessible to transit and have a mix of residential and commercial and employment opportunities.

Recent research conducted in five major regions in the US demonstrated exceptional findings: properties located within the vicinity serviced by fixed guideway transit (Light Rapid Transit (LRT) such as Vancouver’s SkyTrain or heavy and commuter rail, such as the WestCoast Express) outperformed the region as a whole by 41.6%. If values dropped across the board, as evidenced in almost all communities in the US, those properties within the “transit-shed” experienced a smaller drop.

to read the complete article, please click here

Friday, July 19, 2013

Councillors clash over Main Street but quicky OK permanent Laurier bike lanes

By Jon Willing ,Ottawa Sun

Councillors on Friday breezed through a debate on making the Laurier Avenue segregated bike lanes permanent after taking a bumpy road to approve a reconstruction plan for Main Street.

At the heart of both issues is how cars and bikes share roads in central Ottawa.

But on Main Street it’s also about how motorists can access the core if a major arterial road loses lanes when other routes are pinched by years of LRT construction.

The transportation committee spent more than four hours talking about recommended changes to Main Street, between Smyth Road and Colonel By Drive.

City staff want a “complete streets” approach to Main Street, which is a fancy way to say the road should be easily used by motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

The pipes under the road need replacing, hydro infrastructure requires upgrading and the city wants to improve the surface at the same time. This is the city’s only shot to redesign Main St.

Construction is expected in 2014-2015 but while there is an approved $26.5-million budget, there is not yet a cost estimate for the “complete streets” design.

The recommended approach would reduce the number of vehicle lanes in some sections, add raised cycling lanes and widen sidewalks.

Deputy city manager Nancy Schepers called the proposed approach a “game-changer” for the city.

Delegates from the community gave the plan a big thumbs up.

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans put up the strongest opposition to the staff recommended approach, seeing that residents from her ward use Main Street to access downtown.

She wanted staff to consider other options that didn’t reduce the number of car lanes.

The report carried with a vote of 6-4.

McDonald's - restaurant or real estate holding company?

There are a lot of McDonald's restaurants in the world. To be exact, 34,392 -- at least once the fast food chain opens its first ever location in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam will be the 116th country in the world to be home to a McDonald's eatery.

To mark the occasion, The Guardian developed an interactive map, seen below, which shows how the number of McDonald's locations changed between 2007 and 2012.

It certainly illustrates McDonald's staggering global presence. But the number of locations hasn't risen everywhere: In Japan, it fell.

click here to see their locations

Buy a piece of Ottawa's History

Historic and uber-significant Chateau Laurier is up for sale, it can be yours for an estimated $125,000,000.  Named after Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, this 412 room hotel is now available.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Detroit declares bankrupcy


Detroit filed for bankruptcy Thursday afternoon, becoming the nation's largest public sector bankruptcy. The move could slash pension benefits to city workers and retirees, and leave bond holders with only pennies on the dollar.

The bankruptcy was filed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and approved by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder said the financial condition of the city left him no choice.

"We have a great city, but a city going down hill for the last 60 years," he said at an evening press conference. He said 38% of the city's budget is being spent on "legacy costs," such as pensions and debt service. He said police take almost an hour to respond to calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes, and that 40% of street lights in the city are turned off.

"That's unacceptable," he said.

But public employee unions are sure to fight the move, charging that the city did not negotiate in good faith and should not be allowed to walk away from obligations made to employees and retirees.

The Detroit Fire Fighters Association said it was "very disappointed" with the bankruptcy filing.

"We are working with other Detroit employees to form a unified coalition to address the financial concerns of Detroit," the group said. "Detroit's Fire Fighters will continue to protect and serve during this difficult time, regardless of the economic challenges."

Orr already halted payments on about $2 billion in debt last month, saying the city needed to preserve its dwindling supply of cash. The city faces total liabilities of about $18 billion.

Orr's reorganization plan calls for cutting $11.5 billion in debt down to $2 billion. That would mean that investors and retirees would receive an average of just 17% of what they are owed. Specific plans for the cuts are unknown at this time.

No major municipal bankruptcy has ever resulted in cuts to retiree benefits, said Michael Sweet, a California bankruptcy attorney.

"It's relatively easy to blow off a creditor. It's much harder when it's people who are the fabric of your community," he said. "You need a police force, you need a fire department. You're saying [to them] you're not worth what you were previously promised."

Sweet said that case law on whether pensions can be cut this way is very limited, and it could take years for a court fight over such cuts to work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Given the poor state of funding for many public sector pension funds nationwide, "it's a big enough question, that (the Supreme Court) is where it likely will have to go," he said.

When employees of a bankrupt business lose their promised pensions, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. steps in and provides a minimal level of benefits. But that federal agency doesn't back pensions in the public sector.

Retirees and city employees say they can't accept cuts in their pension benefits.

"How am I supposed to live without my pension?" said David Sole, 65, after a protest in Detroit last month. Sole retired from the city's water department in January after 22 years.

Investors say the bankruptcy will make it more difficult for cities and towns everywhere to raise the money they need to build bridges, schools and other infrastructure. It will also hurt municipal bonds held by individual investors.

There are more than $1 trillion worth of bonds at risk, said Peter Hayes, head of municipal bonds at BlackRock. He said there will be a ripple effect nationwide.

Orr said that the city needs to cut debt to restore services and lower costs, such as taxes and insurance, which he says have chased businesses and residents out of the city.

Detroit's population has fallen 28% since 2000. The unemployment rate, while down from a peak of 27.8% in the summer of 2009 -- when General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) and Chrysler Group were going through their own bankruptcies -- is still at 16.3%, nearly twice Michigan's statewide average.

While the auto industry has enjoyed a resurgence with strong car sales and profits, most of the industry's Michigan plants lay outside of city limits.

-- CNN's Poppy Harlow and CNNMoney's James O'Toole contributed to this report.