Real Estate Bits 'n Bites Nov 28 2017

Some really interesting articles in this edition of Bits 'n Bites including the latest on Service Monkeys so let's delve right into the stories!

As usual, my sources are the Institute of Real Estate Management, the City of Edmonton, and ATB's The Owl

Class A building? Class B? Class C? Or Class In-Between?


With the big changes in technology in recent years, many aging buildings are going through major renovations and the lines of distinction between building classes are getting blurred. Existing building classifications are beginning to come under increasing need for updating. Instead of a certain class of building, many tenants are now just seeking certain features.


Do you allow Service Monkeys in Your Building?


What? Service Monkeys? That’s right, while dogs are most common, believe it or not there are service birds, pot-bellied pigs, miniature horses, and yes, service capuchin monkeys. Believe it.

Birds assist with hearing, capuchin monkeys provide hands, and pot-bellied pigs have the ability to alert of seizures. Miniature horses have double the life span of dogs and so they are gaining popularity as service animals.

As a building manager, how’s that for some new things to consider for your building policies? Maybe Class A buildings of the future will have Service Monkey feed stations.


Increasing Identity Fraud among Multifamily Applicants


With the advent of online applications for everything these days, many fraudsters are applying to rent apartments online using stolen identities. Once they move in they stop paying rent and cause significant damage before they can be evicted.

Identity verification services are cropping up to deal with the situation, offering services like two-step identification and red flagging.


Amazon Making A Move on Big Apartment Package Delivery


For the honest tenants that aren’t making fraudulent rental applications, parcel delivery is taking a new direction.

Amazon has struck deals with numerous large apartment owners and managers to install their Amazon “Hub” delivery lockers in buildings representing over 850,000 units in the U.S. I imagine they are similar to Canada Post supermailboxes where a key is left in your mailbox and you use it to open the locker with your parcel.


Edmonton Inflation Rate Remained Unchanged


From August to September, Edmonton’s CPI stood unchanged at 1.1%. While gasoline costs rose, residential rents and home heating costs dropped, causing a net zero effect. The City expects the inflation rate to hold between 1.0 and 1.5% in the foreseeable future.


Edmonton Unemployment Rate Drops to 8.5%


While Alberta employment numbers dropped by 7800 jobs in September, Edmonton gained approximately 4000 employment positions. The even better news is that they were all full-time positions mainly in health care, construction and the energy industry.

Even though the working age continues to rise, which contributes to a larger labour force, the rise in jobs was enough to drop unemployment from 8.7 to 8.5%


Q3 2017 Housing Starts move up in Edmonton


Q3 saw construction commence on 2430 housing units, compared to only 2258 in the second quarter. Single family starts jumped up 9.9% while multi-family unit starts saw a healthy 5.9% increase.

It is believed though that high vacancy rates in Edmonton combined with high inventory levels (over 8500 MLS residential listings in the Edmonton area) will have a moderating effect over the coming year.


Vehicle Sales on the Increase


While housing inventory may have a moderating effect on housing starts, new vehicle sales are on the rise in Alberta. After dropping steadily since the fall of 2014 from a peak of 55 vehicles/mo/10,000 people to a low of about 43 in the summer of 2016, sales have been rising steadily and are now back to about 48/mo/10,000. It is not expected that they will reach the numbers of the good old days for the foreseeable future.


Target Stores Round 2


After taking some heavy losses in their last big expansion, Target Stores are taking a different approach in some of the major centres in the US to fend off competition from Wal-Mart and Amazon.

It plans to renovate over 1,000 locations by 2020, including opening smaller stores paired with online shopping and same-day delivery. It already has 55 of these smaller stores in business and hopes to have 130 in the US by the end of 2019.

Because the stores are smaller they have to take deliveries of groceries more often and because they are in city centers, the real estate costs more. For these reasons, the stores are more costly to operate. The flip side is that there are generally no Wal-Marts in city centers to have to compete with.


Reserve Your Parking Spot at the Mall


This could be coming soon to a mall near you. In the U.S. there is a new app, Miami based MyPark, that has started working with malls to offer reserved premium parking stalls. And of course it’s not free; at the huge Mall of America it costs $6 to reserve a spot for up to 2 hours and $3 for each additional hour. Hmmm, charging for parking at the mall, I wonder how that will fly over the long term.

I wonder if the new, smaller Target stores will offer that?


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