Fraser Valley Real Estate Market: December 2012

January 15, 2013


In the Fraser Valley real estate market, sales are down, and prices may soon follow, but for those in the market for homes, the question is: how much?

Sales and Listings

The year-end sales numbers released by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) revealed a sharp drop-off, with a decline in MLS® sales in the last three months of 2012.

Across the region, which runs from North Delta to Abbotsford, sales of all home types were down 10.8 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011. Sales had been strong through the first half of the year, then began dropping in August, with the trend picking up steam in the fall.

The few gains in sales don't reveal any pattern. In Langley, there were 2,225 sales of property there through the Multiple Listing Service, down just 1.1 per cent from 1,236 in 2011. Townhouse sales were actually up by 1.7 per cent.

Abbotsford saw increases of 2.6 per cent in detached house sales and 4.3 per cent in townhouse sales over 2011, while condo sales flagged by 12.4 per cent.

White Rock experienced a small bump of 2.7 per cent in townhouse sales, but detached house sales were down by 38 per cent in 2012 after a run on luxury homes there in 2011.

Region-wide, sales are down 26.8 per cent over five years, and last year was the second-slowest year for sales in Fraser Valley since 2003.

But as sales drop, inventory levels of unsold homes are also dropping.

"The last half of 2012 was like a Mexican standoff," said FVREB president Scott Olson. "Buyers kept hoping for greater price drops while sellers who didn't have to sell just took their home off the market rather than lower their price.

What's Up, What's Down - At a Glance
  Dec 2012/Nov 2012 Dec 2012/ Dec 2011
Overall Sales -38.8% -25.3%
- Detached -30.1% -30.5%
- Townhouse -27.2% -17.8%
- Apartment -26.9% -16.2%
New Listings -10.5% -32.3%
Active Listings -25.1% 0.0%

"Inventory levels are down, which is a sign of a healthy market where insufficient demand leads to reduced supply,"he said. "This is also keeping prices in most areas either flat or down only slightly."

MLS® Benchmark Prices

Both the Vancouver area and Toronto markets have seen similar situations recently, with declining sales and inventory, slowly followed by reduced prices in some market segments. However benchmark prices in the Fraser Valley have been more stable over the last two years than prices in those two superheated markets. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reports that overall prices in the Fraser Valley year over year grew by just 0.5 per cent compared to Toronto's 4.1 per cent growth and Greater Vancouver's 2.3 per cent decline.

Fraser Valley house prices, MLS® benchmark prices residential real estate December 2012

The benchmark price chart is essentially flat for townhouses and condos over the last two years.

Condo prices exceeded December 2011 prices in four of the eight areas the FVREB represents: North Surrey (11.7 per cent), Cloverdale (1.8 per cent), Langley (1 per cent) and Abbotsford (0.9 per cent).

Townhouse prices were down slightly everywhere except North Delta and Abbotsford. North Surrey was the big loser in townhouse prices over 2012 (-9.8 per cent).

Meanwhile, detached house prices are still up over December 2011 in all areas but South Surrey White Rock (-6.1 per cent) and Mission (a bare -0.2 per cent).

The price of a benchmark home, which is a typical home for sale in a particular community, tends to fluctuate less than the overall average, which can be pushed up or down more sharply by the sale of some very expensive or cheap properties.

Fraser Valley MLS® Benchmark Prices, % Change
  Dec 2012 Nov 2012 Dec 2011
Detached $539,000 -1.0% +1.2%
Townhouse $296,400 -0.8% -2.2%
Apartment $200,100 -1.3% +1.7%

Basically the December prices for Fraser Valley homes bring to mind a word that came up often during 2012: stable.

With files from The Langley Advance

Read the full FVREB stats package here.

See also:

Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market, December 2012

As an writer and editor, Elizabeth spends every day immersed in real estate news and opinion so she can deliver fresh, relevant articles to our visitors. She comes from a varied background in Internet marketing, book publishing, multimedia writing and radio, but what prepared her best for this position is her experience as a renter, seller and buyer in the Vancouver real estate market.
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