How a Condo’s Age Affects its Price

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Frank Schliewinsky

If you haven’t woken up to the fact that there’s housing for the 1 per cent and then there’s housing for the rest of us, then you just haven’t woken up. The Vancouver condo market is now firmly entrenched into the “us” and “them” markets. The “them” market has managed to push Vancouver into most unaffordable city category and caused much hand wringing amongst civic and other public officials but with little improvement in affordability.

But in the meantime, the “us” market has continued to buy condos in this most unaffordable market. This report has a look at what “us” is actually buying. The tables below show MLS® condo sales over the past three months by age, something that most analysts have not looked at.

MLS High-Rise Condo Sales

For most of us, buying a home or a condo is a matter of trade-offs and compromises. Few of us can afford to drop $900,000-plus on a new downtown high-rise, so it’s a matter of either changing location or buying an older unit to buy into the market.

Over the past few years, developers have had to shrink new units in order to keep prices in line. West side Vancouver is an interesting example of this. Over the past three months, brand-new units made up almost one in four MLS high-rise sales in this market; average price $440,000 for 570 square feet. But it’s evident that buyers in this market want more and are willing to pay more. The situation is similar in Vancouver East, but not as dramatic.

In most other markets, buying an affordable high-rise condo means buying an older unit. In Downtown Vancouver, New Westminster and North Vancouver, units built pre-2003 made up close to 50 per cent or more of the MLS high-rise sales over the past three months.

MLS Low-Rise Condo Sales

Low-rise condos remain the most affordable type of housing in Greater Vancouver. Judging from MLS sales over the past three months, a $250,000 price tag seems to be the limit for most buyers, and in many markets this means buying in a project built before 1993. Units over 20 years old made up over half the low-rise MLS sales in Vancouver West, Richmond and South Surrey White Rock. West side buyers had to pay well over $250,000, but the price of an older unit was still $130,00 less than a new unit.

In all other markets, low-rise units over 10 years old made up the majority of MLS sales over the past three months. In most markets, this meant buyers were getting a 900 or so square foot units for less than $300,000.

MLS Townhouse Sales

Townhouse condos make up about one-third of MLS condo sales and tend to be more expensive than high-rise and low-rise units. Even if a buyer is looking at a unit built in the last century, prices tend to be well over $300,000 in most markets. The most affordable units are townhouse units over 20 years old in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, North Surrey and Langley. In almost all markets, townhouse condos over 10 years old made up more than half the MLS townhouse sales over the past three months.

© 2013 Real Estate Weekly

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