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Building confidence

There’s been plenty of angst in the media about the downturn in oil prices, and for those affected by layoffs the impact is no laughing matter.

But the effects on the real estate sector, which seems to grab the headlines when economic shocks hit, are somewhat like the reported death of Mark Twain.

“The outcomes are really exaggerated in the headlines,” quipped Eric Carlson, president of Anthem Properties Group. “My anecdotal data is ‘cautiously OK’ – we’ll get through this.”

Indeed, the benchmark price for homes in Calgary slipped just $200 between November and January, hardly a collapse even if sales activity has pulled back.

Buyers are being “intelligently cautious,” said Carlson, who saw strong demand for Anthem’s Waterfront project in the Eau Claire district last fall and since mid-January has sold 14 of the project’s remaining units.

“We’re still doing business, there’s still well over a million people here and they’re still employed,” he said. “We’re still pumping a lot of oil out of Alberta. That economy is still there.”

Similarly, Parham Mahboubi, vice-president, planning and marketing, with Vancouver’s Qualex-Landmark Group, is working on a fifth tower in the city’s Beltline area and preparing for a sixth.

“There is no question that the Calgary economy is closely tied to the energy sector; however, its economy is not as vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices as may be public perception,” he said. “We need to keep in mind that oil prices will not remain low forever.”

That’s also the faith of James Askew, president of RareEarth Project Marketing Ltd., which is expanding to Calgary later this year to handle a second project in the city for Vancouver’s Ledcor Properties Inc.

“The fundamentals are really there for Calgary, overall,” Askew said. “If you need to sell right now, it’s probably making you very nervous. But if you want to buy, there’s tremendous opportunities that will be out there over the next three to eight months.” #nanaimo #dealmakers

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