City’s red-hot housing market took a tumble in August

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Buyers likely to benefit from more stable prices, real estate board says

Krisendra Bisetty


Greater Vancouver home sales fell dramatically in August while prices remained generally firm, according to figures released Tuesday.

The message for buyers and sellers is that the red-hot market has been replaced by stability, said Andrew Peck, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

Sales of all types of homes fell by 22.8 per cent to 2,537 units, compared to 3,290 the same month last year, the board’s numbers show.

Compared to July, sales were down between 12 per cent and 18 per cent, depending on the type of home, although August is traditionally a slower month in the real-estate market. Month-over-month listings were also down.

“Is this a bad sign for the market? No,” Peck told The Vancouver Sun Tuesday night.

He said 2003 was an extraordinary year and “that kind of pace could not be maintained in the long term.”

August 2003 was nearly a record-setting month, he said, and the extremely hot pace continued in the first part of 2004, when activity started to slow.

But he said a summer month with 2,537 sales is pretty good compared to the situation a few years ago, such as August of 1998, when there were 63-per-cent fewer sales.

“What we’re seeing today is a return to active market conditions that are good for both buyers and sellers.”

All sectors of the market saw higher prices in August compared to August last year and there were also price increases over the past three months.

The board’s numbers show prices slipped slightly between July and August in Delta South, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, east Vancouver and West Vancouver, but rose in New Westminster, North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Richmond and the Sunshine Coast.

According to Multiple Listings Service data for Greater Vancouver, sales of detached properties decreased 28 per cent to 1,061 in August, compared to 1,478 sales in August 2003. As for prices, the board says a typical detached home in Greater Vancouver is worth $518,160, up 19.6 per cent over a year ago.

Sales of attached properties decreased 23.8 per cent to 396 units, compared to 520 units in August last year, with the price of the typical attached property up 19.8 per cent to $330,520.

Sales of apartment properties were down 16.4 per cent to 1,080, compared to 1,292 last August, while the typical apartment price was up 17 per cent to $243,100.

Compared to July, sales of detached homes were down 12.8 per cent, attached homes were down 18.4 per cent, and apartments were down 18.3 per cent. Listings were also down by 24 per cent for detached homes, 27 per cent for attached homes and one per cent for apartments.

According to figures released Monday, Fraser Valley housing sales fell in August for the second month in a row.

That indicates the market has stabilized from the wild ride of the last 18 months with generally stable prices and more homes coming on to the market, said Moss Moloney, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

Real estate firms are advising clients to pick realistic asking prices for their homes — and to expect to wait longer for offers.

“There’s less homes coming in the market. Homes used to sell within the first week, now there’s a two-week to a month wait before they sell,” said realtor Glen Warren, who sells condos and entry-level detached houses in east Vancouver.

Sellers made a killing during the spring, getting even more than the higher-than-normal prices they asked. But, no more. “If they expect to sell, they should make a realistic pricing,” Warren said.

While not yet a buyer’s market, it’s heading toward one, said Rob Regan-Pollock, senior mortgage consultant at Invis, Canada‘s largest independent mortgage brokerage firm.

“There seems to be more inventory available for our borrowers and more selections than we used to have. We are advising pre-approved clients who did not purchase in the spring because the market was too hot, that now is a good time to be looking again,” he said, adding that prices are also softening.

A good-condition, one-bedroom, one-bath apartment on Deercrest Drive in North Vancouver listed at $299,000 on June 22 and sold for $210,000 July 30.

© The Vancouver Sun 2004


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