Sizzling Fraser Valley market showing signs of decline

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Housing sales fall for the second consecutive month

Petti Fong


The once sizzling Fraser Valley real estate market is fizzling a bit.

Housing sales fell for the second month in a row, down 11 per cent in August from the previous month, according to numbers released by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board Monday.

The market has stabilized from the wild ride of the last 18 months, according to Moss Moloney, president of the board.

More inventories are coming up for sale, pleasing buyers. But prices, on average, are still climbing, which makes sellers happy.

“There was no boat to catch, no boat to miss. The only people missing the boat are those who are holding back thinking the market is going to collapse,” Moloney said. “Anybody who bought a house from 1999 through to 2002 has done exceptionally well. Anyone who bought a house in the last year has seen a 20-per-cent increase in their value.”

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) indicates there were 1,381 sales in the Fraser Valley in August. For the same month in 2003, 1,661 properties were sold.

The number of properties overall has increased to 6,891 listings, up seven per cent from the same time last year.

Moloney said his charts show there are about 5,454 previously occupied houses currently listed in the Fraser Valley, properties for sale that include condos, townhomes and detached homes.

If there were more than 10,000 such units listed, that would represent a market crash, he said Monday.

The average price for a residential detached home declined by 7.4 per cent in Surrey, and 2.6 per cent in Abbotsford, but continued to climb in North Delta, Mission and Langley.

Prices went up 14.3 per cent in White Rock over the two summer months of this year. From August of 2003 to this past month, prices in White Rock have jumped more than 35 per cent.

Geoff Lloyd, a real estate broker for Century 21 Seaside in White Rock, said the market peaked in July, and dropped the next month.

“We have gone from speculative pricing to real pricing,” Lloyd said. “For the last year and a half, it was speculative. But I’m fairly convinced between now and next spring, the prices are not going to go up by more than a little bit.”

Buyers are in a better position to purchase homes with inventories mounting, and realtors are getting a breather for the first time in 18 months, according to Lloyd.

In August of 2003, 930 detached homes sold. Last month, 706 houses sold overall in the Fraser Valley, compared to 791 from July.

There were sharp declines in the average price of townhouses in Mission, falling 21.8 per cent in one month. Townhomes in Mission sold for an average $166,625 in August. In July, that price was $212.987.

Overall, townhouse sales remain steady in the Fraser Valley, as were condominium sales.

All sales, including detached, townhomes and apartments, fell in August to 1,179 from 1,335 units sold in July.

Surrey realtor Gurpreet Chhina, of Sutton-Premier, said the days of buyers paying over the asking price are over.

“Places are still selling like crazy, but not like before. Prices are now selling for market value. There’s no bubble bursting,” Chhina said. “Before it didn’t matter if the house was in Whalley, they were still buying. But now they can go to Cloverdale or Chimney Heights for the price they were paying before in Whalley.”

Chhina said shoddy constructions by developers hoping to make quick, lucrative returns are the only losers in the market.

“People were still buying even when the floors were squeaking. Now we are seeing if you cheap out and you build poor quality, it’s going to sit there and that unit will sell below market value. All the Toms, Dicks and Harrys who were building these poor quality houses are getting flushed out,” Chhina said.

“People were running around like chickens without their heads for the last 18 months. People have their heads on now.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2004

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