Buying a condominium – Flippers beware of current market

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

Sam Cooper 24 hours

Thinking of diving into Vancouver‘s scorching condo market?

Prospective homeowners get the green light; but quick buck investors get a cautionary yellow from a local expert.

Bryan Woolley, president of Maverick Real Estate Corporation, told a condo-buying crowd at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver that good warranties, a strong economy and a wave of Asian immigration will boost market demand and prices in the long term.

But interviewed after his speech, he said ‘flippers’ ought to take care.

“The exceptional growth of last two to four years is unlikely to carry on forever,” Woolley said.

“Is now the time to buy? If I was buying to own, yes. If I was looking to buy it and flip it for a big profit I would look very carefully.”

And Woolley acknowledged a recent cautionary report on the Vancouver condo market by Pricewaterhouse Coopers advisor Neil Atchison has some validity.

Atchison reported condo supply in areas like Richmond and Burnaby/New Westminster is in danger of exceeding demand.

While addressing Atchison‘s concerns, Woolley said Vancouver condo demand should continue to exceed supply and even if the market softens, it will continue to climb long-term, because of Vancouver‘s limited land and projected population growth.

“It’s hard to time the market perfectly. I have friends who have been waiting for 20 years, but you make money by owning, not renting,” Woolley said.

Both Woolley and Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president George Pahud said the perception condos are a better investment than houses currently isn’t true.

“It depends where you look (in Vancouver),” Woolley said. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in both condos and houses.”

“Both markets have sales to listings ratios over 90 per cent,” said Pahud, adding there is no indication the condo market is running out of steam.

“Generally downtown condos get sold within a week,” Pahud said. “And we just had our best August (sales) ever.”

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