experts: real estate column Friday, May 14, 2004

Can We Return Smiles To Buyers' Faces?

Well folks, it's now official, inventory is up in 4 out of 6 categories on the North Shore.

By Alan  Skinner

In the course of my monthly cogitation and, if I may say, analysis, I occasionally see what I feel are significant signs. I say, occasionally, as the market doesn't usually reverse a trend in short term jerks or bumps. Rather, we tend to see the "business as usual" pattern for many months and then we become aware of an "altering"; a little like crocuses or daffodils appearing in late Winter, heralding Spring. Real Estate may not follow seasons or dates but like all markets it follows cycles determined by, strangely enough, those factors that effect Supply and Demand. Even my April review introduced two foreign terms, "plateauing prices" and "new listings ... Increasing".

Well folks, it's now official, inventory is up in 4 out of 6 categories on the North Shore. The only two not up over this time last year are the detached homes of North and West Vancouver (but, and this I think is a significant fact), both of these categories saw a substantial increase in new listings, year over year (N.Van 207 new detached listings in Apr '04 vs 134 in Apr '03 and W.Van 136 new detached listings in Apr '04 vs 107 in Apr '03). I shall continue to follow this closely in the upcoming months. What happens when supply increases in any significant way? I guess that depends upon the vigour of the prevailing demand. Let's watch this drama unfold.

Here then are the full North Shore figures. North Van average prices still up - detached + 16%, attached + 23% and apartments + 26%. Inventory, as alluded to above, generally edging up - detached - 4%, attached + 3% and apartments + 6%. Number of sales for the year, up - detached + 3%, attached + 8% and apartments + 12%.

West Van - all average prices are up - detached + 26%, attached + 34% and apartments + 20%. Inventory - detached - 29%, attached + 3% and apartments + 119% (build-up in "new"). Numbers of sales for the year slightly mixed - detached + 10%, attached - 6% and apartments no change.

A final comment - interest rates (mortgages) are edging up slowly. Will further increases lead to more unsold inventory? Whither prices? Stay tuned.

Please join the group subscribing to the e-mail version of this "update" - send a request now to northshore@canada.com and you'll be assured receipt; phone me at (604) 988-7368 or visit www.AlanSkinner.com.




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