February: Housing Market Trends in Vancouver

Vancouver Skyline by Chris
Vancouver Skyline by Chris

Sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February 2013 reached 1,797, down 29.4% from the 2,545 sales last February (2012), while  up 33% from the 1,351 sales last month in January 2013.

Sales continue to be slow, with numbers for February 2013 hitting the second lowest February total in the region since 2001, 30.9% below the ten-year sales average for this month.

1. Greater Vancouver Market Results

“Sales in February followed recent trends and were below seasonal averages, though our members tell us they saw more traffic at open houses last month compared to the previous six to eight months," said Eugen Klein, REBGV president.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio is currently sitting at 12.2% in Greater Vancouver, which was a 2% increase from January 2013. This is the first time this ratio has been above 11 per cent since June 2012.

“With a two-point increase in our sales to active listings ratio and a reduction in the average number of days it’s taking to sell a home, February showed some subtle indications of a changing sentiment in the marketplace compared to recent months,” states the director of REBGV.

New listings for detached, attached, and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 4,833 in February 2013. This was a 13% decline compared to the 5,552 new listings reported in the same month last year and a drop of 5.8% from the 5,128 new listings in January 2013. Last month’s new listing count was 4% higher than the region’s ten-year new listing average for the month.

Tudor House by daryl mitchell
Tudor house by daryl mitchell

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the Greater Vancouver MLS® is 14,789, a 5.2% increase from February 2012 and an 11.6% increase from January 2013. The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver has declined a total of 5.6% to $590,400 since May 2012.

Detached property sales totalled 704 in February 2013 and were down 36.1% from the 1,101 sales in February 2012 and a 49.8% down from the 1,402 sales from just 2 years ago in February 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties was $901,500 last month, down 4.5% from February 2012 and sliding 6.8% since our market peaked in May 2012.

Apartment property sales reached 760 in February 2013, a  25.5% slide  from the 1,020 sales in February 2012 and a 37% decline from the 1,206 sales in February 2011. The benchmark price of an apartment property was down 3% from February 2012 and 5.1% from May 2012 to $360,400.

Sales of attached properties reached 333 in February 2013 — down 21.5 % from the 424 sales in February 2012, and down 31.9 % from the 489 attached properties sold in February 2011. The benchmark price of an attached unit stayed level at $455,500, a decline of 0.7% since February 2012 and a 6.5% decline since May 2012, when prices peaked.

2. City of Vancouver Market Results

Vancouver by Bowe Frankema
Vancouver by Bowe Frankema

Last month in Vancouver, we saw a continued the trend of weaker sales. As the numbers show, the market continues to struggle in balancing both prices and inventory to levels that will entice buyers. 

On the Eastside, there were 449 new listings in February 2013, meaning that new inventory on the market was nearly level (only a 1.13% increase represented by four units) from January 2013. The increase in the total number of active listings was more noticeable, with 1186 active listings showing for February 2013, an increase of 14.37% from January.

On the Westside, new listings for February 2013 reached 1068, slipping 4.73% from January 2013's 1121 listings. Active listings reached 2889, an 13.47% increase from 2546 listings in January 2013.

Vancouver Eastside

21 townhouses sold last month in East Van, sliding 46.15% from this time last year in February 2012, when 39 units were sold. With a benchmark price of $511,700, prices were still up 1.6% than last year ~ so all of the reduced market activity hasn't necessarily affected townhouse prices.
This months´ sold apartments totalled 67,  a decrease of 34.31% from February 2012 when 102 apartments sold. With a benchmark price of $301,600, the average price for apartments was down 1.2 % since February 2012.
77 detached houses sold in February 2013, a drop of 38.40% in comparison to February 2012, when 125 detached houses sold. The average benchmark price for a detached house on the Eastside has continued to fall, reaching $812,900, a 2.7% drop from February 2012.

Vancouver Westside

The number of sold townhouses on the West Side reached 38, a  19.15% drop from February 2012 when 47 units were sold. Benchmark prices registered at $677,300 a 4.5% increase from the same month last year.
The number of sold apartments totalled 253, a decline of 21.67% since February 2012. The benchmark price for apartments reached $461,900 last month, a decline of 2.5% from February 2013.
The total number of sold detached houses in the Westside reached 104, a 41.24% drop in activity from the 177 units sold in February 2012. The average benchmark price was $2,001,100, a decrease of a whopping 9.2 % since February 2012. It appears that West Side Single Residential homes have really taken the market's biggest beating.

While both apartment and detached house prices were down, I and many other Real Estate Professionals are seeing a stirring of market interest after many months of lulled activity .

Particularly on the East Side prices have stayed relatively flat ~ especially when you contrast them with the reduction in market activity from one year ago. Personally, I think that even though things  are slow, the fact that prices haven't dramatically plunged downward is a good indication of the market's overall health and also, a strong signal that the market will slowly but surely recover from this slump.

Like it or not, according to history and established trends, a Vancouver market correction was inevitable after over a decade of ever-expanding market activity. Considering the severity of the world-wide corrections we've seen in the last 5 years (I would say in particular in the US, Australia and Europe), the Canadian housing market is faring well.  Further to, it has been my personal experience that the Vancouver market is not only the first Canadian Real Estate Market to correct, but also, the first market to begin recovering from corrections. The question is: how long it will take to readjust?

I'm continuing to hedge my bets on a fairly flat market for the next year or so. With prices and interest rates as low as they are, it's honestly a great time to buy if you really examine at the data.  Everyone is always trying to predict the turning point of a slide because it is ideally, a fantastic time to buy property. Only you can decide if you think that time is now! 

Vancouvers Market Report Highlights for February Infographic
Vancouver's Market Report Highlights for February Infographic
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