experts: real estate column Thursday, July 15, 2004

With Summer's Warmth a Cooler Market? (But Don't Say "Buyers" Yet)

Every category, save one, is evidencing increasing inventory over last year

By Alan  Skinner

Well we've passed the annual "mid-point" and the scorecard sure shows an amazing advance from '03 figures to those of mid '04. All average prices have inflated by about 1/5th to 1/3rd in the past 12 months. Last month I used the analogy of a fever abating and I believe that this is still a pertinent one to describe the North Shore market. The patient is still running some fever but should definitely be feeling better (especially those specific patients who are potential buyers!) These buyers and the Realtors assisting in the search are now facing reasonably well (but by no means over) stocked shelves and are able to contemplate a more serene purchasing experience.

Every category is evidencing increasing inventory over Jun '03 save one (W/Van detached which is down 10%). This is however still up 5% over last month. Such overall growth in supply must slow our market and with less frenetic demand, should lead to a leveling off of prices. Both N/Van and W/Van are also seeing a general normalizing in the number of units sold. Mortgage rates seem to be holding steady but will bear watching over the next few months. If, as I am surmising, prices are leveling off, then the major factor to watch is the demand side (or how many serious buyers exist in this market?). My belief is that there are sufficient to make this one of the strongest real estate years in North Shore history. Just my opinion....

Again the actual figures - N/Van average prices up - detached +18%, attached +19% and apartments +26%. Inventory, now unmistakably up - detached +18%,attached +14% and apartments +26%. Number of sales for the year to date - detached -2%,attached -4% and apartments +12%.

W/Van - all average prices are up - detached +34%, attached +21% and apartments +32%. Inventory - detached -10%, attached +52% and apartments +36%. Numbers of sales for the year remain mixed - detached +6%, attached -4% and apartments +8%.

A final note on W/Van detached. With an average (ytd) sales price of $1,146,441 we are seeing homes in this area doing some "catch up" as N/van seemed to show higher (relative) growth in the past 2 years. However, if we adjust for the $18Mil sale reported in June (highest ever), the average would still be in excess of $1,100,000. For analysis purposes that sale should likely be treated as somewhat of an anomaly as these unique estates are not your average detached home. No harm in dreaming though!

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

Your questions regarding the market, your decisions, contemplations, opinions of my musings, are all welcomed via that medium (or by phone) - hey, pop-in and say "Hi" to me at an open house - I'd love to see you.




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