experts: real estate column Friday, May 10, 2002

Solid Sales, Solid Market, Firming Prices

Healthy sales continue apace.

By Alan  Skinner

Healthy sales continue apace. As we now enter our 5th month, the Spring and Summer show all likelihood of a maintained impetus. Demand is strong, supply is improving and it is that demand specifically which is driving prices to higher levels. We appear to be in a range of 5 -10% above this time last year (North Van) and about 3 - 6% (West Van). Remember though that average prices can be deceiving, so individual location/types of property may deviate from those averages (up or down).

Another point of caution here most people (we human beings) have a gut feeling as to what our homes are worth (or what we would like to believe they are worth). When a comment such as "average prices may be up 5- 10 %" is made, there is very often a tendency to take the 10% figure and add it to the previously believed value. Compound this with the "guesstimate" of what it was worth last year. I say "guesstimate" respectfully as there is no truly reliable way of knowing what it was worth last April (unless it actually sold last April!)

Looking at the results on a year to date basis, we see continued strong sales figures, well up over last year, North Van (detached up 34%, attached up 55% and apartments up 111%). Inventory, while still well below last year is staring to creep up, most evident in the detached segment where we are now only 14% below April/2001 figures. (End of March/2002 was 22% below Mar/2001 figures). Average prices here are (detached +5%; attached/townhomes +4.5% and apartments +13%).

Units sold, YTD in West Van are also strong - (detached +43%; townhomes +52% and apartments +45%). Here we also see inventory starting to build back up with detached only 3% below the April/2001 level. Average prices are also up on the whole (townhomes and apartments, 9 and 14%, respectively with detached virtually unchanged).

A comment on the upward trend in inventory. As markets show price inflation, so too do sellers' expectations. The earlier comment regarding increasing average prices leads prospective sellers to feel that they "need to at least try to get what the market gave to those sellers last month". The non-uniformity of location and type comes into play and we actually see this optimism promoting a build up as the buyers now start to question the "inflated" expectations. These expectations may correct in time but cause a ballooning of inventory. Best advice: contract with an experienced realtor who is demonstrably in touch with the minor vagaries within each specific area and type. I remain currently available to represent select sellers and buyers. Please feel free to "interview" me by visiting my website (www.AlanSkinner.com) - then call for a face-to-face meeting at (604-988-7368). I look forward to meeting you.

FLASH - North and West Vancouver graphs showing how prices and sales have changed. Take a look - these will be updated monthly www.alanskinner.com/graphs/graphs.html.

Please don't hesitate to call/e-mail with any questions on local real estate, whether buying, selling or just looking at future options.




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