Market Update for January 2023:
The New Year started with more changes to how we do real estate in this province.
The change that will affect buyers and sellers the most is the new three-day recission period which the provincial government proposed last year during our busy market.
The goal was to give buyers a chance to do their due diligence and provide ‘an out’ if they had second thoughts after submitting a subject-free offer.
Under the new law, within three clear business days of an accepted offer, Buyers can walk away from the deal provided proper notice is given, and they pay to the Seller 0.25 percent of the agreed-upon price. On a million-dollar home, that amounts to $2500. Provided those two things are done, the Buyer can walk away for any reason… or none at all.
This condition is law and cannot be waived by either party during negotiations.
It’s not likely we’ll see this happen often in the slower market we have now, with most offers containing subjects, but it’s important that Sellers (and Buyers too, for that matter) are aware that the purchase and sale of most residential property can now be overturned for any reason within three days.
Our local real estate board described 2022 as a ‘year of caution’ due to rising borrowing costs.
Sales were down considerably from 2021, and more than 13 percent below the 10-year sales average.
Prices adjusted downward during 2022 to more reasonable levels, but all areas are still up considerably from pre-pandemic pricing.
I don’t think we’re likely to see prices dip much further, as prices in most communities seem to be moderating now.
Watch for another interest-rate hike later this month, likely .25 percent. There is also talk of a new Loan-to-Income restriction on borrowing, as well as a tightening of the Stress Test in the fall… both will make money harder to get for Buyers.
My advice? Don’t put off purchasing, thinking you’ll save a few thousand dollars if you wait. These changes may mean you miss out altogether.
Better the devil you know, that the one you don’t, in my opinion.
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Market Update for November 2022:
Home sales in October were down more than 45 percent from one year ago, approaching record lows for the number of recorded sales in a month.
This is discouraging news for those trying to sell their home, but the good news is that home sales from September 2022 to October 2022 were up almost 13 percent.
It appears the market is stabilizing and moving to more typical conditions after the extremes of the past few years.
It’s reassuring to see things ‘normalizing’ and returning to more predictable patterns after the ups and downs caused by the pandemic.
Still, the slow market means that the number of active listings has inched upward. With lots of homes for sale, sellers must be competitive if they hope to sell their home, and that puts downward pressure on prices.
Despite that, there seem to be some very early indications that home prices may be stabilizing. Where before we were seeing substantial price decreases month over month, now those changes are minimal or almost non-existent, and in fact in a few markets there is a slight uptick from the previous month’s pricing.
If buyers are waiting for prices to continue to drop, they may be disappointed. It may be advantageous to wait another month or so to see if this truly is the start of a shift towards prices creeping up again, but I wouldn’t wait too long.
As a mortgage broker friend of mine said, “All it takes is one headline saying prices are going up, to spur another frenzy of home buying.” It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Right now the higher mortgage interest rates are acting as a deterrent, but if buyers believe home prices are going up and they might miss out entirely, they will jump to get into the market. And as demand goes up, so do prices.
If you do decide to buy in the next little while, she suggests locking in for a short term of one or two years. She predicts that mortgage rates will come down, likely to pre-pandemic (2019) levels, and that will allow you to take advantage of the drop in rates down the road.
Market Update for September 2022:
The real estate market is in an adjustment phase, as conditions shift from a seller’s market to a more balanced market, and, in some communities, into a buyer’s market.
The data indicates that many communities still have balanced markets which, in theory, is equally good for both buyers and sellers.
Regardless of market conditions - whether they favour sellers or buyers - home sales still happen regularly.
That’s because there are always people who need to buy or sell: to downsize, or get more space, or to relocate to something more suitable for their current needs.
As a homeowner wishing to sell, you may have to be a little more flexible in this market in terms of your asking price, preferred dates, etc., but in my experience, there is seldom a stalemate between buyers and sellers reaching agreement, when both parties are truly committed to the process, and are prepared to negotiate in good faith.
Both buyers and sellers are likely aware that interest rates went up again earlier this month. Experts are predicting a further increase before the end of the year, likely another half percentage point.
What does that mean in dollars and cents? Well, the last increase of .75 percent meant that on a $700,000 mortgage you would have had to pay an additional $234 every month for the term of the mortgage.
On a five-year fixed rate mortgage, that would mean more than $14,000 in additional interest, paid straight into the pockets of the lender. Ouch!
There is some speculation that interest rates may come down once inflation is under control, but by then housing prices will likely have stabilized and may well be on their way up again.
I think it’s a good time to buy… there’s lots of inventory to choose from, and prices are down. Qualifying for a mortgage will be more difficult with the interest hikes… the Stress Test means that you have to qualify at two points over the lending rate.
The best advice I can give you, is to talk to a mortgage broker and get pre-approved. That way you’ll know your budget and just how much it will cost you to borrow… and you’ll be able to lock in at today’s best rate and avoid the next interest rate increase, which is scheduled for October 26, 2022.
If you need a referral to a trusted mortgage broker, give me a call. And please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to assist you. I’d love to help!
Market Update for July 2022:
House prices seem to have peaked (for now) and have been in a holding pattern or a gradual decline since May, although some markets like Mission and Abbotsford are seeing detached house prices drop more dramatically.
Those communities were among the first to see sharp increases in 2020 and 2021, and this market adjustment brings pricing more in line with historical patterns, where house prices increase as you get closer to Vancouver.
Sales have slowed right down over the past two months. Most markets are moving from sellers’ markets into balanced conditions, and some communities have shifted even further, and are now experiencing a buyers’ market for the first time since before Covid-19.
Because of this shift, sellers will need to be realistic about their pricing, and patient… it will likely take quite a bit longer for their home to sell than it would have three or four months ago. And even though they aren’t likely to get the same kind of money for their home that they would have at the beginning of the year, they should still receive a very good return on their investment.
Understandably, Buyers are being more cautious in the current economic climate. Rising interest rates, inflation and increasing costs at the grocery store, gas pump, and pretty much everywhere else are making people nervous.
But I believe that people who are interested in getting into the real estate market should do it as soon as possible, before it becomes unaffordable for them and they are priced out of the market.
Real estate prices do fluctuate, but overall they go up, and often substantially. Real estate remains the very best investment that I know of. Where else can you double your money, sometimes in as little as five years? (You might be able to double your money in Vegas, but I certainly don’t like those odds!)
Interest rates have a big impact on how much home a Buyer can afford. I was told recently of one couple who had purchased a pre-sale home and been approved, only to get a call from their lender after last week’s interest rate hike, saying they were now $50,000 short and had to make up the difference or forfeit the home.
Circumstances can change quite literally overnight, as that story shows.
I strongly suggest that those interested in buying a condo, townhouse or detached home get pre-approved as soon as possible. Not only does this let you know how much you can spend, but you can also lock in the current rate for three to four months.
The next interest rate hike is likely to come on September 7th, so by getting pre-approved now, you can hedge against paying more (or being able to buy less).
I know of several people who waited to buy, hoping that prices might drop, and now can’t afford to purchase a home because they’ve been priced out of the market.
Market Update for May 2022:
April saw home sales return to more-or-less traditional levels for the first time since the start of Covid.
In the early days of the pandemic, sales dropped off almost completely. As we all know, that was followed by an unprecedented surge in demand, and that drove sales and pricing through the roof. After that roller coaster ride, it’s nice to see the market get more-or-less back to ‘normal’ conditions.
Buyers now have more time to look around and consider their options. Offers are coming in with subjects again, giving Buyers a chance to do their due diligence prior to finalizing their home purchase.
And even though interest rates are on the rise, you can still get a variable rate mortgage from 1.60 percent. A five-year fixed mortgage is 3.74 percent… a great rate and more typical of pre-Covid conditions.
With interest rates and home prices both creeping up, now is a great time to buy, but it’s still a sellers’ market. There are some early signs that we may be moving towards more of a balanced market, due, in part, to the increased number of homes for sale; more than we’ve seen in quite some time. It remains to be seen if that shift will occur in any meaningful way.
In the meantime, prices are beginning to level off in some markets, but many are still showing slight gains month over month.
Sellers will have to adjust their expectations if they’re using the ‘feeding frenzy’ that took place a few months ago as a guide to their home’s value. That volatile market has settled. Their home’s value is still way up from what it was, but homes aren’t selling at the super-inflated prices that they were.
On a positive note, Sellers are not as likely to be in a panic to find a new place to purchase once their current home sells. They should be able to take their time and find a new home that truly meets their needs, rather than rush into something that might not be entirely suitable.
Whether you’re interested in buying or selling (or both), or know something else who is, please keep me in mind. I’m never more than a call or email away.
Market Update for March 2022
We saw more homes come onto the market in February (an increase of more than 30 percent from January), as homeowners moved get a jump on the spring market and take advantage of the unprecedented demand and high prices.
With more homes to choose from, Buyers could be a little more selective and perhaps a little more cautious in their approach. We started seeing conditional offers again, at closer to asking price, rather than subject-free offers way above list price.
Many homes still sold within a few weeks, and many still received multiple offers, but not to the same extent that they had in preceding months. The number of offers received in a multiple-offer sale was generally down from what it had been.
Although it’s early days to make a prediction, this may be the start of a subtle shift away from the extreme conditions of the Seller’s market we’ve seen since the early days of Covid-19, where the sky was the limit for selling prices.
Even so, the Seller’s market will likely continue through 2022. Persistent demand from Buyers has created a market that is continually under-supplied, but the market will move to more of a balance in the coming months.
Rising interest rates will affect Buyers’ borrowing power moving forward, and that should moderate price growth somewhat, but with the ongoing high demand and low supply, prices will continue to rise.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver expects prices to go up by an average of nine percent for all property types in 2022; 13 percent for detached homes, townhouses are expected to increase by 9.5 percent and condos by eight percent.
My advice to people who do want to sell is don’t wait too long. If you act now you can take advantage of the spring market, and ride the end of the extreme Seller’s market.
Buyers should keep an eye on interest rates. Even a one-percent hike in rates will reduce the amount you can borrow by up to 10 percent. Current global uncertainty may drive interest rates higher than predicted, so consider buying sooner rather than later.
On an interesting note, we’ve seen a shift in the typical Buyer. As first-time Buyers and millennials get priced out of the market, an increasing number of people who already own a home are becoming Buyers, as they leverage the equity in their homes to purchase additional properties for investment purposes. Hopefully some of them are purchasing to help their kids, the would-be first-time Buyers.
Whether Buying or Selling, let me put my experience to work for you. I’m just a quick call or email away.
MARKET UPDATE FOR JANUARY 2022:
No one could have predicted at the start of the pandemic just what a profound effect Covid would have on the housing market, but the 2021 stats have been released, and the full impact can now be measured... at least, up un- til this point in time.
The big story in 2021, of course, was the unanticipated and unprecedented demand for housing. Prices sky-rocketed to unheard-of levels, especially in the suburbs, where you could buy more for the money.
Almost like dominoes, we watched prices shoot up in Coquitlam, then Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, even Mission, which now has a home price index (cost of a ‘typical’ home in an area) of more than a million dollars.
Of these communities, Pitt Meadows was the place with the largest benchmark price increase for detached homes in 2021, a whopping 42.2 percent, followed by Maple Ridge at 38.5 percent. Townhouses in Maple Ridge were up 35.2 percent. Those are staggering increases in just one year.
And the south side of the river has seen even larger gains: in Surrey, Langley, Aldergrove, Abbotsford we’ve watched prices climb in succession; even Chilliwack has seen substantial price increases.
While demand was high throughout 2021, inventory remained low. Across Metro Vancouver, we began 2022 with fewer homes for sale than we’ve seen in over 30 years ...This at a time of unprecedented demand.
It’s anticipated that mortgage rates will increase somewhat this year and that could have a modest effect on the market, but we’re not likely to see big changes anytime soon.
In the meantime, the seller’s market continues. If you’re considering selling your home now is a great time to do it, especially if you’re planning to down-size or move away from the Lower Mainland.
Buyers will continue to struggle to get into the market, but I predict it’s only going to get more difficult, as prices continue to climb and mortgage rates go up. The last thing buyers need is for their buying power to diminish because of higher interest rates, at a time when home prices are so high.
Whether buying or selling, a trusted, hard-working realtor can be your best friend in this market. Give me a call... I’d love to help!
MARKET UPDATE FOR DECEMBER 2021:
The fall market continued much as it began… with not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of people wanting to purchase.
The number of total sales (detached, townhouse and condo) has been well above the 10-year average month after month in this hot market. At the same time, the number of homes offered for sale has declined; typical for this time of year, but putting stress on the market.
With not enough inventory, competition has heated up between buyers. Many of them are feeling frustrated, especially if they’ve made offers and lost out because of multiple bids on properties.
Many places are selling well over asking price, which is great for sellers, if the property appraises out high enough that buyers can get the financing they need.
And just a note here: most buyers need some help with financing for their real estate purchases, so even an offer that doesn’t contain a ‘Subject to Financing’ clause can collapse if the lender decides the buyer is paying more than the property is worth.
The heated market has led the government to announce plans for a ‘cooling off’ period for home purchases, something they plan to address in the spring. We’ll find out more at that time.
Mortgage rates will almost certainly be going up next year, likely by around mid-year. One mortgage broker I work with predicts three hikes to the rate in 2022, and the same again in 2023.
Current mortgage rates start at 2.49 percent for a five-year fixed term, while a variable rate mortgage starts at just 1.15 percent. Even with the predicted increases in rates, she feels the variable rate mortgage is still a better choice, with its lower rate and no early pay-out penalties.
I was surprised to learn recently that up to 60 percent of people locked into a fixed-rate mortgage break their mortgage early and pay for the privilege through interest penalties. So much for the forever home!
MARKET UPDATE FOR OCTOBER 2021:
The real estate market experienced a little bit of a slowdown in August as people made getting away a priority, but by September many were focused once again on buying or selling a home.
If the start is any indication, it’s going to be a robust fall market… if we can get enough inventory to satisfy the home-buying public.
It’s been a seller’s market since shortly after Covid hit, with a migration of people from Vancouver moving out to the suburbs. Last month there were only two markets in the Lower Mainland that had balanced markets, i.e. conditions that favoured neither buyers nor sellers.
Those communities were Vancouver (no surprise there), and New Westminster, which is a relatively small sampling.
The other areas are firmly in the seller’s market camp in all categories: detached homes, townhouses and condos. And as we’ve seen over the past 18 months, that does nothing but drive prices up.
It’s unfortunate for people who were entertaining the idea of buying but didn’t… now many may feel as if they’ve been priced out of the market.
The reality is, many will have to revise their plans and look to buy a townhome instead of a house, or a condo instead of a townhouse. Or buy out further, although we’ve seen what that’s done to pricing out in the Valley, with prices in some communities rising over 30 percent in the last year.
Will this market shift again and will prices come down? The experts that I’m hearing from are predicting that the busy fall market will pave the way for a spring market that is busier than ever, so it doesn’t look like prices will be dropping anytime soon.
The demand for housing is bringing with it more multiple offers, and that often drives prices up way over the asking price.
Good news if you’re a seller with a plan to either downsize or move out of the area to a more affordable community. If you are interested in selling, please don’t attempt it on your own; you’ll need a good realtor to navigate the process in a market like this.
And if you’re a buyer hoping to get into the market, you make want to get creative and think past the one family/one home scenario.
Whatever your goals, I would be happy to discuss them with you and offer suggestions.
MARKET UPDATE FOR AUGUST 2021:
Both the number of sales and the number of listings declined last month, although sales were still above the 10-year average in most areas of the Lower Mainland.
The easing of activity is likely just the typical summer slow-down in the market, although since Covid hit, things have been anything but typical!
So… sales and listings were down from the month before, although sales were still above average. At the same time, the number of listings actually fell below the 10-year average.
Prices have been stabilizing over the past few months, but the combination of fewer listings and high demand may change that. It will be interesting to see what happens to house pricing this fall.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at what’s happened over the past few months:
Properties took an average of two to four weeks to sell in June and July, whether they were condos, townhouses or detached homes.
The price of detached homes was up just over 20 percent from a year ago, according to the Home Price Index or HPI (price of a ‘typical’ home in a given area). Townhouse prices were up 16 – 17 percent, and condos up about eight percent from July 2020 levels.
Many of the more affordable markets have seen the largest gains in selling prices, especially for detached homes.
Prices of detached houses were up about 35 percent over a year ago in Mission and on Bowen Island; Maple Ridge saw increases of 32 percent; Sunshine Coast was up 33 percent; and Whistler was up 30 percent. Abbotsford topped the list with house prices going up 36.6 percent in one year.
According to statistics released by our two local real estate boards, the only communities where a ‘typical’ house averages under one million dollars are the Sunshine Coast and Mission.
If you’re in the market for a condo or townhouse, stats show that on the mainland, Maple Ridge, Mission and Abbotsford are still the most affordable places to buy (condo HPI ranges from $384,000 to $425,000) or a townhouse (HPI: $587,300 to $688,000). Mission is the best-priced market for detached homes with an HPI of $929,600.
Keep in mind these are only averages; there are lots of homes available for less than these amounts… and I would be happy to help you find them!
MARKET UPDATE FOR JUNE 2021:
The real estate market has settled down a little in the past month or so, but sales have remained brisk. What has seemed to have changed is the frenzy that was accompanying the buying, especially of detached homes.
Most of those properties still tend to sell quickly, but not at the hectic pace that they were. We’re still seeing some multiple offers, but not as frequently as we were, and many offers now contain subjects. Offers are now being received at asking price or a little less, depending on pricing.
Prices also, while not going down, seem to be rounding a bit, rather than climbing dramatically upwards as they have been over the past year.
Optimistic buyers may wonder if the ‘housing bubble’ is ready to burst, but as one astute observer of the market put it, “The so-called bubble has withstood a pandemic, two recessions, the foreign buyer’s tax and the stress test, and still prices have continued to rise.” Prices are not likely to come down anytime soon, especially post-pandemic, with pent-up demand and the return to more normal immigration levels.
It’s still a seller’s market for all categories – detached, townhouses and condos – with just 2.6 months’ worth of inventory according to stats released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
That number diminishes as you head east where the more affordable properties are, but demand has driven prices up considerably in the past year, in those ‘affordable’ markets. Below is a glance at how Home Price Index values of detached homes were affected out in the ‘burbs. Please note that these numbers are approximate only:
Coquitlam up $150K
Port Coquitlam up &200K
Maple Ridge up $280K
Mission up $250K
Langley up $350K
Abbotsford up $300K
The upward trend in pricing continued for townhouses and condos too, but the increases weren’t as dramatic.
Interest rates remain low (HSBC has a variable rate mortgage at just .99%!), and the stress test adjustment which took place June 1st has had little effect on the market thus far.
Wondering what your home might be worth today, or curious if now might be a good time to buy? Just give me a call or send an email, and I’ll be happy to help.
MARKET UPDATE FOR APRIL 2021:
As everyone in the Lower Mainland knows by now, the real estate market has been going crazy. Homes are listed with two or three days for scheduled viewings, then at a set day and time offers are presented, and almost always, multiple offers are received, and prices go well over asking price.‘Almost always’ I say, because there are exceptions. My last two buyer purchases were at asking price and just below asking. So, there are opportunities out there for savvy buyers who are prepared to act quickly when the right set of circumstances present themselves. I know some buyers are holding off making a purchase, thinking that prices will come down when this buying frenzy subsides, but I don’t think that will happen for quite some time.
Once the world wrestles the pandemic under control and travel becomes a possibility once again, the pent-up demand for immigration will bring thousands of people to Canada, many of them heading straight to the West Coast and the greater Vancouver area. And that will push prices up even more.
Interest rates are likely to remain low for a few years yet, so my advice to people who want to get into the market, is buy now if you can, before prices go up even further. And hire a seasoned realtor who’s worked in this kind of market before and can spot opportunities when they arise.
Sellers can get top dollar for their homes now, but the challenge is finding somewhere else to live once your home is sold. Anyone looking to downsize or move from the Lower Mainland is in a great position to cash in their chips, so to speak.
Others may want to consider the possibility of selling now and renting for a couple of months till the right place comes along. Not ideal, but it certainly takes the pressure off, and could even provide a useful cooling off period, a time to re-assess your options and goals. You may even be able to negotiate the renting back of your own home, until such time as you find and purchase another place. Meanwhile, the proceeds from your sale are in your bank account for your use.
You may have heard that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions wants to expand the mortgage stress test, with changes coming into effect June 1, 2021.
The proposed changes will apply to uninsured mortgages, or those purchases with more than 20 percent down. The proposed change will see the qualifying rate raised to the higher of the mortgage contract rate plus 2 percent, or 5.25 percent, whichever is higher. This will effectively reduce buying power by limiting the amount you can borrow.
Insured mortgages are already subject to the stress test.
Incidentally, variable rate mortgages are probably your best option right now, with some rates as low as 1.35 percent. They traditionally save money compared to fixed rate mortgages, which often have high penalties for early pre-payment.
If I can help in any way – perhaps with a referral to a mortgage broker or other professional – please just let me know.
MARKET UPDATE FOR FEBRUARY 2021:
It’s certainly been a busy couple of months in the Greater Vancouver real estate market.
December, which is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year, had robust sales that were up more than 50 per cent from the corresponding month in 2019. Sales were nearly 58 per cent above the 10-year average for that month and were the highest ever recorded for a December. To say the year ended on a strong note is a bit of an understatement!
Things slowed a little in January, but sales were still very brisk, with demand driving detached home prices up considerably.
Multiple offers became commonplace out in the suburbs, further contributing to escalating prices. Many communities saw a price increase on detached homes of 10 or 15 per cent… that’s up to $120,000 on a home that would have sold for $800,000 just a few months previously.
In contrast, condo prices have not fluctuated much at all, and townhouses are up a modest amount.
With interest continuing at record low rates, watch for a very busy 2021.
If you have your own home and want to downsize or move away from the Lower Mainland, now’s the time to do it. You’ll cash out at top dollar, giving you money to buy a new home and, in all likelihood, put money in the bank.
If you would like to buy a home – especially if you’re looking for a detached house – you’ll have to be patient, as you may not get the first home you place an offer on. There’s not a lot of product out there, and most homes are being sold almost as soon as they hit the market.
Whether you’re a seller looking at possible multiple offers on your home, or a buyer going up against a lot of competition to find the right place, it’s never been more important to have a good realtor working for you.
People mistakenly think that realtors enjoy this kind of market, but the truth is it’s stressful for all involved. Navigating multiple offers can be tricky, especially when dealing with “bully offers” from frustrated realtors. Trying to get a home for buyers when competition is so fierce can be even more challenging.
Perseverance is the catch word for buyers in a market such as this. Trust your realtor and listen to his/her advice. Chances are they’ve seen this before and know how best to handle market conditions.
And if I may be of service to you or answer any questions, please just let me know.