Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: January 2013

February 9, 2013  |  By
vancouver-harbour-from-stanley-park

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s January statistics show little change from the way things have been going for the last six months. Because of sluggish MLS® sales, the sales-to-active-listings ratio is 10.2 per cent. Eight to 12 per cent is where experts predict prices will slide, and that’s where the sales-to-listings ratio has been since June. Yet there’s no price plunge. Benchmark prices are easing off very gently.

This could be due to sheer stubbornness on the part of sellers. Ever since November, REBGV president Eugen Klein has been making remarks in this vein: “It appears many home sellers are opting to remove their homes from the market rather than settle for a price they don’t want.”

The proof is in the active listings numbers, which have been declining for four months.

Maybe Greater Vancouverites have come to see their home as an investment, and they’re trying to time the market. Maybe they’ve believed the ongoing media speculation that we’re in a real estate bubble, and they fear being caught out there when the thing bursts. Or maybe they don’t have the patience to keep their home staged and gorgeous for the longer time it now takes to sell a property.

But that seems to be changing if January’s new listings are any indication.

 

Sales and Listings

Sellers are listing again. January’s new listings were 18.9 per cent higher than the 10-year January average.

(Granted, they’re 10.9 per cent lower than those of January 2012, but that month had the highest new listing count since 1995. In 2012, the Chinese New Year fell in January and everybody and his dog was listing, hoping to take advantage of the halo effect of Asian buyers in town with time to shop around.)

New listings are also up 271.5 per cent over December. That’s a bigger month-over-month  jump in new listings than the December 11/January 12 new listings gain of 254.2 per cent.

We’re definitely seeing the typical spring surge in listings. Sellers must be at least somewhat optimistic if they’re putting their homes on the market. And the combination of  pent-up demand and a February Chinese New Year could prove rewarding for them.

But despite all those additional homes for sale, active listings are still down from December, and have been declining since October. And it’s not because of active sales burning up the inventory. Last month’s sales were the second-lowest January total in the region since 2001, and 18.7 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.

Why? Back to those stubborn sellers…

“When a home seller isn’t receiving the kind of offers they want, there comes a point when they decide to either lower the price or remove the home from the market. Right now, it seems many home sellers are opting for the latter.”

What’s Up, What’s Down – At a Glance
Jan 2013/Dec 2012  Jan 2013/Jan 2012
Overall Sales +18.3% -14.3%
- Detached +28.6% -17.8%
- Townhome +9.4% -10.7%
- Apartment +14.3% -12.3%
New Listings +271.5% -10.9%
Current Listings -4.5% +5.6%

 

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

Eugen Klein says, “Home sale activity has been below historical averages in Greater Vancouver for about seven months. This has caused a gradual decline in home prices of about 6 per cent since reaching a peak last spring.”

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) HPI house prices trend

Both detached houses and condos reached a benchmark price peak in May 2012. As of January, house prices have fallen 6.9 per cent and condos, 5.6 per cent. Attached properties hit their price peak in April 2012 and have declined 7.7 since then.

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
Jan 2013 Dec 2012 Jan 2012
Detached $901,000 -0.4% -3.1%
Townhome $449,900 -0.2% -2.9%
Apartment $358,400 -0.8% -1.0%

 

As spring unfurls, we’ll see if the February Chinese New Year kicks off the buying season and buyers—both local and overseas—take the bait of lower prices and an infusion of new inventory.

 

See the REBGV full stats package for details broken down by city and municipality.

See also:

Fraser Valley Real Estate Market January 2013

Home Sales Will Pick Up in 2013: BC Real Estate Association

Elizabeth Wilson Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: January 2013 Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: January 2013