In Like a Lamb

Just like unpredictable spring weather, or perhaps more like typical Vancouver weather, Vancouver’s real estate market continues to mock the predictors, soothsayers, experts, and carry on its own course regardless of what people are saying. As it’s the end of the year, it seems fitting time to review – then tuck the data into the history banks whilst looking to the New Year and taking a stab at predicting all over again. It’s what we humans do and we’re proud of it.

After a disappointing fall 2012 with miserable sales and a fairly flat start to 2013 – sales picked up steam as the year went on and despite the heavy cloud of burgeoning interest rates and all the doom and gloom that comes with that storm. Yet again, for like the 5th year in row, it didn’t happen - and yet again no bursting of the bubble? As a matter of fact the upward rise of sales has outshone last fall and currently sits at the 10 year average.

Look at these numbers – Last November in 2012 sales of detached homes on Vancouver’s Westside were 76 – this year 142. West Van logged a miserable 32 sales in November 2012 and this year saw that number more than double to 78. North Van has had a steadier time of it this year (meaning it has enjoyed a more consistent year), however it too went from 6 sales in Nov. 2012 to 83 sales for Nov. 2014. Over all the market activity has improved as the months went by and we will finish well. The REBGV reports sales up 37% which is more in line with North Van’s increase, but obviously Westside and West Van have performed better than the average.

To put the 3 areas on graph from January 2012 to November 2013 – the graph looks like this: 

How much are sellers getting?

Sale prices have only seen a very modest increase in the last 2 years. Poor performance and some frankly over priced houses in 2012 and early 2013 didn’t fool buyers. They tended to offer much less than the over inflated asking price. The following graph shows the percentage of the sale price properties sold for. You will note that North Vancouver did best here with its less volatile and steadier market, so prices remained within reason and even at it’s lowest point, the average seller was getting 93.5% of their asking price, where Westside was only getting 89.7% and West Vancouver looking at averaging only 87.1%. At the end of this year prices have increased slightly after taking a slight dip last year and now folks are only discounting an average of 7% of their asking price and North Van only discounting 4.5% off theirs. By the way – Andrews Group is very happy to average our sales at 98% of their asking price – it helps when our clients listen to our advice on listing price of course?

Average Sale Prices in each area:

As mentioned above we have seen a slight increase. Here is a detailed look at the averages month to month for each given area in not one but two formats for you! both numerical and on a linear graph so you can see we pretty much ended up right back to from where we started from. You may note that West Van’s average price is actually down a bit when one looks at the actual numbers. We were surprised at that, given a number of higher end sales, but this is what the numbers tell us: The spread sheet – it doesn’t lie.

The Chart – shows the more volatile ups and downs of West Vancouver and the Westside and how they crossed paths a few times….

Prediction for 2014

Ha – no predictions from this fine team. We know enough to know we don’t know ? We do know there remains a steady demand for our real estate. People want to live in Vancouver and they love the North Shore for what it has to offer, they also love the prestige of the Westside and West Vancouver. In our next market brief we will break down a few neighbourhoods for where the best buys are and where we feel people are focusing on and why. There is not a lot of options with mountains, rivers and oceans blocking the sprawl of our finest neighbourhoods and interest rates for now seem to be sticking right where they are. We will continue to report what we see and give you the facts at all times!

More numbers: The totals spread sheet

We’ve really given you a lot of number already we know, but this running graph we manually pull each 2 weeks backs up the solid sales in all areas. As you can see Dec. 1st shows an increase in sales across all three areas and you will note the number of listings decreasing each period – EXCEPT for West Vancouver apartments. It’s a phenomenon how difficult they remain to sell. All the developers and district hall points to the need for higher density, and yet, really, people in West Van want to live in houses and not condos. The condos available have restricted the rules so much that no one wants to play! No Dogs, No Cats, No rentals, No children – they’ve excluded 60% of population. Many people feel West Van is just NO FUN – and prefer to live downtown or even choose the more vibrant North Vancouver Lower Lonsdale area at ½ the price for a newer condominium. We’d love to see the strata corporations lighten up a bit. Just our opinion? Also note the percentage of properties going over asking. West Vancouver is performing the worse in this area, but the Westside and North Vancouver still seeing around 15% of the properties that sold going over asking.

These graphs show us the supply and demand for West Vancouver and North Vancouver over a 4 year period. North Van listings now on the higher side, though since fall they have been below last year. West Vancouver on the other hand had a very high listing count right up till fall of this year when they finally dipped ever so slightly below 2012 – Still at this point, they are at an all time high point. Sales as mentioned have seen a pretty good autumn for both North and West Vancouver and looks as if that might continue to the end of the year.

Court Ordered Sales

We have 6 properties for selected for review in the Court Ordered section of our news brief. By far the most interesting is 4637 Cochrane on the Sunshine Coast , close to Madeira park. This home was purchased for $480,000 back in 2007 in what looks like a private sale. It’s assessed at $340,000 and is now listed at only $260,000. The property is ½ an acre! Next best choice is 1542 White Sails Dr. on sadly depressed Bowen Island. This property was purchased for $525,000 back in 2008 and is assessed at $495,000 – asking now $388,000. This is a cute home on an 8,320 sq. ft lot and is right in Turnstall Bay. The 555 Inglewood home is a tough sale - poor location, on a busy road, in a dark hollow - in Cedardale. The builder overbuilt and chose interesting, but not mainstream fixtures and finishes for a speculative build – not a wise plan. It’s been on the market since January 2012 when it was listed at $3,188,000 now a court ordered sale at $2,198,000.