Real Estate Bucks Fears So Far

Prices Hold, but More Owners Want to Sell

by Jeff Nagel - Peace Arch News - May 08, 2008

A U.S.-style real estate meltdown shows little sign of coming here. House prices have kept climbing in much of the Lower Mainland in 2008 so far, market statistics released to the end of April show.

The benchmark detached house in Metro Vancouver climbed 5.6 per cent in price in the first four months of the year to $771,321. Townhouse prices are up on average 4.5 per cent year-to-date in Metro Vancouver to $477,900, and condo prices are up 2.9 per cent to $390,000.

Equivalent figures for the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board show the average detached home sold for $547,600 in April, up 1.8 per cent from December. Fraser Valley townhouses went up 1.7 per cent on average to $344,600 and condos there are up nearly three per cent to $235,800.

But there is evidence the market is softening. April sales are down from this time last year in Metro Vancouver and both realtor groups are reporting a major surge of new listings from owners who now want to sell their property. Fraser Valley realtors reported the jump has pushed active listings to near-record levels. The groups called it a rebalancing of demand that had heavily favoured sellers over buyers.

“There is a lot more choice on the market today,” said David Watt, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Other observers say fear of a major drop is a likely factor behind the increased listings.

“We’re coming off four straight years of double-digit home price increases,” Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. analyst Robyn Adamache noted. “I think people are partly taking into account what’s happening in the U.S. and getting worried, but also just wanting to get their homes on the market to take advantage of some of the equity gains they’ve seen.”

Vancouver’s job and population growth trends and geography, however, make a major collapse here unlikely, she said. CMHC forecasts a residential real estate price gain of eight per cent this year and five per cent in 2009. Adamache said the proportion of homes bought and resold within 12 months – a good measure of flipping – has been trending down since mid-2007. The realtor board stats show that while prices in most areas are still up strongly from one year ago, several cities have seen recent prices either plateau or even dip slightly from December to April.

Among the areas where prices dipped in April were detached houses in New Westminster and Pitt Meadows, townhouses in Coquitlam and North Vancouver and condos in North Vancouver and Vancouver’s west side. (In each case, April’s benchmark price was down from the three-month average, signaling the latest home sales went for less.)

In the Fraser Valley, the average sale price for White Rock houses dropped 3.9 per cent in the past month and Abbotsford townhouses were down 8.5 per cent. In contrast, some of the biggest recent gains have come in Port Moody after the province announced that city would be on the route of the planned Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension. The benchmark detached house price in Port Moody soared to $813,900 in April – up 31 per cent from $620,000 in December.

If you're thinking of selling, be prepared to have your home on the market longer now that there's more choice for buyers. Location, size, and condition all play an important part in selling your home. Improving your home's curb appeal and a well researched list price will help you sell faster.
I can give you sound advice based on the current market. Call me for a consultation to list your home today!


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