experts: real estate column Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Bright Outlook, But a Tentative Start

North and West Van sales down in January.

By Alan  Skinner

The sun is shining (as it will at 20,000 feet) and, now that Jordan, Ron and Al have stopped chatting (O.K., I was too!), I can commence this month's update somewhere above the Rockies on the way back from the Re/Max Edmonton Conference. Edmonton, another great reason for feeling so good about the North Shore. Did I really say that?

The only thing not tentative about our past month was the excess of rain and the tragic consequences of the Blueridge bluffs. This sobering occurrence makes us all think of the things we need to question when acquiring a home. An agent assisting the buyer has a serious obligation to sensitize them to the need for due diligence before "firming up" the contract (read - "removing subjects"). The agent for the seller has the equally serious obligation of stressing the need for complete "property disclosure". Simply put, if you know of defects in your home or the lot it sits on, you must disclose them before the buyer makes the irrevocable decision to buy. Not doing so can very possibly lead to accusation of misrepresentation with potentially dire consequences. Remember, marketing a property appropriately does not mean hiding the warts. I guess this is a plug for dealing with a Realtor with a good depth of experience whether you are buying or selling. Oh yes, and then use that experience! Ask questions - make me earn my remuneration.

Now for the "tentative start" figures. N/Van detached sales for the year to date (i.e. January) were down 19% from the same period last year. Average prices +12% and, a significant item - inventory up 32% over last year. On the condo side (t/houses and apartments) sales numbers up slightly (5 and 7% respectively). Average prices up 12% and 7% resp. and inventory up 113% and 57% resp. The demand side (buyers) will need to perform to take care of the inventory and some softening of selling prices may well occur in the relatively short term.

W/Van detached is similar with a 48% drop in number of sales; average price more moderate at +4% and inventory only 3% above 2004. The prediction here being that prices will not necessarily soften unless the number of sales continues to be much lower than 2004 i.e. buyers (demand side) holding off on their decision to proceed. The condo picture is quite mixed -but please remember that limited transactions in a category in one month can give the illusion of a wild swing. T/house sales down 88% (1 unit vs 9 last yr); average prices appear to be rocketing (up 81% - same distortion - one sold at $995k vs 9 sold averaging $548k -2004). Active listings 43 vs 37 last year (+16%). Apartments with 8 sold vs 2 last January (a misleading, but technically true, 300%); in the same vein average prices up 22% and active listings up 32% (53 over Jan 2004's 40). Lesson: too few swallows to make a summer (or in fact a trend!).

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

Any questions regarding the market, decisions, contemplations, opinions of my musings, are welcomed via e-mail (or phone) - hey, pop-in and say "Hi" to me at an open house - I'd love to see 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
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