Those buyers struggling to enter the Vancouver market need look no further than nearby Fraser Valley neighbourhoods, where great value can still be found – for now at least, according to a panel of real estate experts.
Speaking at the Urban Development Institute’s recent lunch panel event at the Sheraton Guildford, best-selling real estate investment author Don Campbell said, “You’ve all seen the affordability campaign #Don’tHave1Million. But when you start peeling the onion and looking at the facts, you’ll see that you ‘#Don’tNeed1Million’ if you’re buying in the Fraser Valley.”
The senior analyst of the Real Estate Investment Network said that the demographic shift of Millennials entering the real estate market over the next few years, which are as numerous as baby-boomers, would change the housing market.
He told the largely baby-boomer-aged audience, “Remember we protested everything too, in the Sixties? And now the Millennial generation is coming, and they’re exactly like us. And they don’t need $1 million. They’ve got your $1 million. That may sound facetious, but that’s what’s happening.”
Brian Yu, BC regional economist at Central 1 Credit Union, told delegates in his economic outlook presentation that he expects the low-interest rate environment to continue until late 2016, keeping mortgages affordable and real estate purchases attractive. “The picture we’ve seen this year, you can expect to continue well into next year, in our view,” said Yu.
He added that Credit 1 Central Union didn’t believe there was a problem with real estate speculation in the Lower Mainland, saying, “There hasn’t been a speculation problem here since 2005” and supported the recent BCREA report arguing that foreign investment is unlikely to be a key factor in house price rises.
Yu also said that the Lower Mainland would continue to see interprovincial migration and economic uplift increasing the population and adding to the pressure on the land base and housing demand. “We’re expecting to see 5 per cent growth in housing starts this year, 4 per cent growth next year, as the conditions are very favourable.”
He concluded, “If you’re looking for a condo, there are still opportunities in the Metro Vancouver area but if you want a single-family home with a white picket fence, then you are going to be looking east, at the Fraser Valley.”
Robyn Adamanche, principal of market analysis at the CMHC, said that rapid growth in the number of households in the Fraser Valley would further contribute to rising housing starts and real estate sales in the region over the coming years. She said that 8,510 new households were expected to form in the Fraser Valley each year, including nearly 3,000 a year in Surrey, more than 1,300 in Langley and more than 1,000 a year in South Surrey/White Rock.
She added that despite rising sales, the price of condos in the Fraser Valley are not increasing rapidly and have still not recovered pre-recession prices.
The final panelist, Scott Brown, president of Fifth Avenue Real Estate Marketing, said, “The theme song for this year’s Fraser Valley market lunch should be ‘The Future’s So Bright, You Gotta Wear Shades.”
He said that townhomes were a dominating trend in the Fraser Valley, citing that 60-70 per cent of all Lower Mainland townhome sales are in the Fraser Valley.