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Real estate activity remains brisk Home sales in St. Albert were brisk in May, continuing a trend from the previous month. The St. Albert market saw 112 homes sold in May, a 75 per cent jump over the same month last year.

Real estate activity remains brisk

Home sales in St. Albert were brisk in May, continuing a trend from the previous month.

The St. Albert market saw 112 homes sold in May, a 75 per cent jump over the same month last year. In April, the market posted a 39 per cent increase over the same month last year.

The average sale price has remained steady at just over $400,000 for the last two months.

Much of the activity is coming from renters and first-time buyers, but some buyers are also trading up, said Charlie Ponde, president of the Realtors Association of Edmonton. He noted the increased buyer interest isn’t putting the market into the same superheated frenzy seen in 2006 and 2007.

“It is still a very price-sensitive market,” Ponde said. “This is not the time you can be pulling a number out of your hat.”

There are 210 single-family homes listed in St. Albert and 113 condominiums. This level provides good choices but isn’t huge, Ponde said.

St. Albert has slipped out of Alberta’s top 10 places to do business, according to an annual ranking by Alberta Venture magazine.

After tying for seventh last year, the first for the ranking, St. Albert is absent from the list this year.

“Other places, their costs came down in a very significant way. That probably hasn’t happened to the same extent in St. Albert,” said editor Michael McCullough.

“Now that the business costs are going down across the board, it allowed some Calgary-area municipalities to climb up the ranks a little bit,” he said. “It wasn’t anything specific about St. Albert.”

The results are disappointing, said Mayor Nolan Crouse, but the city just has to keep doing what it’s doing — developing a plan for the northwest and promoting development in South Riel and North Campbell.

“Nothing’s going to change. We’ve got to reinforce that we’re a long ways away yet,” he said.

The rankings are based on figures provided by economic development offices, supplemented by follow-up calls to players in the business community, McCullough said.

Topping the list is Alberta’s International Region, which includes the City of Leduc, Leduc County and the towns of Beaumont, Calmar and Devon. Next are Airdrie, Calgary, Camrose, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Lloydminster, Strathcona County and Strathmore.

This list is available at www.albertaventure.com.

The province introduced new regulations for payday loan companies this week. The rules limit borrowing costs to $23 per $100 borrowed. They also ban rollover loans and provide a two-day cooling off period that allows borrowers to cancel a loan without penalty.

“Many Albertans use payday lenders for short-term small cash loans, but some get caught up in a vicious cycle of debt at high borrowing costs,” said Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk. “We are setting clear rules that protect consumers and ensure people know what they will be paying for when they borrow from a payday lender.”

Companies that fail to abide by the regulations could face fines of up to $100,000 or two years in jail.

Other regulations include:

— prohibiting lenders from accessing borrowers’ bank accounts, except for pre-authorized repayments;

— disclosure provisions requiring lenders to prominently post information in stores explaining the cost of borrowing

— a requirement that payday lenders use plain-language contracts

— a requirement that payday lenders be licensed by the provincial government

Most of the regulations come into effect Sept. 1.

Alberta’s unemployment rate rose to 6.6 per cent in May, up from six per cent in April and 3.6 per cent in March.

Both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have lower rates, each with 4.9 per cent unemployment. Nationally, unemployment rose by 0.4 percentage points to 8.4, the highest rate in 11 years.

Nationwide, employment decreased by 42,000 jobs in May, led by further manufacturing losses in Ontario. Since the employment peak of last October, employment has fallen by 363,000 jobs or 2.1 per cent.

St. Albert home sales

2009 2008 2007<br /> May YTD May YTD May YTD<br />Units 112 365 64 308 102 414<br />Average $404,344 $396,627 $428,471 $453,131 $501,329 $480,528




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