experts: real estate column Thursday, April 14, 2005

First Quarter Strong Finish After Quieter Start

All average prices on the North Shore/West Vancouver are up this quarter over 2004 1st quarter

By Alan  Skinner

Despite a slowish start in Jan and Feb, the activity in March (even with Spring Break) has given us a pretty buoyant first quarter. All average prices are up this Q over 2004 1st Q. Inventory in all listing categories is increasing in number, which would normally suggest a move to a buyers' market - except for one thing - very strong demand (read wannabe owners). My take on the increased inventory is likely a large number of would be sellers believing that all N/Shore prices are rising uniformly. It is often tough to face the market reality of some areas having strong levels of desirability (high demand) and others, relatively weaker (lesser demand). Remember, an average price increase of say 20% can very well be comprised of some product (type of housing and location) increasing at 35/40% and others at 3/5%.

Now, an aside on "Agency" or "who do I choose to help me through the buying or selling maze?" We all have different personalities, likes and dislikes [thank goodness!]. It is most unlikely that a "one agent (Realtor) fits all" is feasible, or desirable. An important initial question, though, is "do I want/need personalized service or am I content to deal with a team of Realtors (of differing experience) and deal with each one on different aspects of the process?" These teams are often difficult to distinguish (until after the listing agreement is signed). An individual may appear to be a sole contractor (not unlike the fellow whose name appears at the bottom of this page!) but in a number of cases, is the figure-head who "sells hundreds of homes in a year" while personally doing very little of the critical client contact/follow up/property search and property showing work. Indeed, many of these folk hardly ever meet the buyers they "represent" who are actually looked after by one of a few "buyers agents" employed in the team. Divide the total sales by the number in the "team" and bingo, each has sold less real estate than many top level "sole contractors". Most sole contractors, myself included, pride themselves in being the full time agent of our clients and not handing off the "unimportant" tasks to less experienced assistants. The top attributes to be valued - integrity and experience.

Now for the 1st Q figures. N/Van detached sales for the Q were down 16% from the 1st Q last year. Average prices +10% and inventory up 5% over last year (well down from last month). On the attached (t/homes) front, sales numbers up slightly (3%) while apartment sales have jumped 13%. Average prices up 4% (t/hse) and 18% (apt). Inventories up 44% and 37% resp. The demand side (buyers) is performing well, taking care of the Jan and Feb inventory and the previous allusion to any softening of selling prices will likely not occur.

W/Van detached shows a similar pattern with a 17% drop in number of sales; average price maintains its moderate rise at +3% and inventory only 1% above 2004. The condo picture remains mixed - [limited transactions in t/hses] - down 38% (13 units vs. 21 last yr); average prices still strong (up 46%). Active listings 43 vs 31 last year (+38%). Apartments with 61 sold vs. 43 last year (+41%); in the same vein average prices up 30% and active listings up 58%. Small #'s. One of my listings sold at +$67K over asking price - the proven power of waterfront apts - but let's hold our opinions 'til at least 2nd Q.

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

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... especially after we've completed the Sun Run! - hope yours goes well!!!




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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Keeping Realtors Honest
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Resistance to change and compliance delay
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Yes, it's official - demand is rising
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