experts: real estate column Thursday, February 06, 2003

Significant figures - virtually meaningless!

A seemingly poorer performance on the North Shore is likely explainable largely by the inventory figures - there just isn't that much to choose from!

By Alan  Skinner

When "year to date" figures mean simply "what happened in January?" it is dangerous to try to interpret any trends. Once again, I stress not looking for the summer, based on one "swallow" (or should that be "groundhog"?).

In North Van the total number of sales (all categories) is 153 units vs. 194 units in Jan of 2002. This seemingly poorer performance is likely explainable largely by the inventory figures - Jan 31/02 (619 units) and Jan 31/03 (413 units) - there just isn't that much to choose from! A more meaningful (although highly speculative) question, would be "if we'd had 1/3 rd less inventory last year, how many sales would there have been?". I'm not even going to comment on average prices other than to say that the trend "seems" higher but only once we have a greater volume of sales (more "year to date" stats) to compare will we be able to construe any significance.

West Van reveals a similar picture with 59 sold in total in Jan 2003 as opposed to 75 sold in Jan 2002. Inventory here too has dropped (not as dramatically though) - Jan 31, 2002 to Jan 31, 2003 from 478 to 429.

This brings me to the point I'd like to make - we can track, in actual numeric terms, supply (inventory available) and results (sales over a given period) but we can only make a qualitative assessment (read "guesstimate") of the demand at any given time. It's only through the "results" that we can theorize as to the demand during that period. But what of the demand at a specific moment (e.g. February 25, 2003)? Is it going to be buoyant? What will be the effect of slowly rising mortgage rates? The situation in Iraq? Are we getting the Olympics? Many of these things offer a vague level of predictability but many others fall into the (previously referenced) "groundhog and shadow" type category. Sadly, some are more along the recent Space Shuttle or even "9,11" category of tragedies. Those that we can "sense" are therefore the only ones we can use to guide our buying and selling activities and I strongly recommend that a full-time, active and experienced Realtor be consulted before and during the search, decision making and negotiating process.

Oh, and by the way, next month I'll get back to the "number crunching" once that exercise is not so meaningless (I promise)!

I remain ready, willing and able to assist Buyers and Sellers dealing with property on the North Shore. My strong suggestion is for folk to "interview" me by visiting my website ( - then call for a face-to-face meeting at (604-988-7368) - or pop into one of my open houses - I look forward to meeting you.

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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Keeping Realtors Honest
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How well do we stack up?
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Resistance to change and compliance delay
Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Of urban planning and municipal wisdom
Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yes, it's official - demand is rising
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

All articles by Alan  Skinner

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