experts: real estate column Thursday, July 14, 2005

Saying It Like It Is

It seems that in recent months (or more), one cannot open the newspaper (or the mailbox) without seeing an exposť of the Real Estate market.

By Alan  Skinner

It seems that in recent months (or more), one cannot open the newspaper (or the mailbox) without seeing an exposť of the Real Estate market.

Alas, it is often not clear which market is being described. The Vancouver Sun usually does two main articles, one focusing on the Lower Mainland (with results for the past month from the Vancouver Board - this side of the Fraser River, and the Fraser Valley Board - the other side). Later in the month, the Canada-wide stats are commented upon. That aggregation of results can be most confusing and lead to headline statements which may be at variance with fact in many of the national "sub-markets". To illustrate, say "Eastern Canada" was climbing (market values) at 5% this month vs the same month last year and "Western Canada" coincidentally dropped by 5% for the same month. The headline could well read "Canadian Real Estate prices show no change". For whom is this information of value?? Maybe some department at Stats Can!! - certainly not an investor or prospective home owner wanting to buy in a micro portion of the country - say Ambleside in West Van. It is largely for this specific reason that I never aggregate North and West Vancouver.

This aforementioned, blurred reporting is further muddied by poor use of terminology. An example of this arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago. The "headline" implied that "summer is a great time to sell one's home" and the article followed with the hazy logic...."Predictions that Real Estate sales would slow down never materialized, home prices continued to climb". Fact: sales DID slow down (reduced numbers -5% year over year) as predicted. Average prices did increase, which is probably what was meant (but not clearly stated). Sadly, there is no "ombudsperson" to police sloppy, out of context commentary. We must question the underlying "message". The best test is to go back to supply (inventory - up or down?) and demand - many buyers or few? - and ultimately, "what does this mean for prices??" Remember - Context is everything! North Van is not Greater Vancouver and Greater Vancouver is not North Van. That same flyer broadcast a +30% growth in Greater Vancouver sales (Apr/03 to Apr/05) ... North Van figure - 12%.

Here now are the actual June/05 year to date numbers for our market area. Number of N/Van detached sales down 4% from the same period last year. Average prices +10% and inventory down 22% over last year (what is happening to our supply?) On the attached (t/home) front, sales numbers up 18% while apartment sales show increased growth of 11%. Average prices up 8% (t/hse) and 15% (apt). Inventories at -14% (t/hse) and -43% (apt). Demand here (buyers) remains strong and inventory continues to shrink.

W/Van detached continues its YTD drop in number of sales (-14%); average price maintains its gradual rise at +2% and inventory down 18% from 2004! The condo picture remains mixed - attached (t/hses) down 17% in number of sales; average prices still strong (up 42%). Active listings hardly changed from last year at 40 units. Apartments show 129 sold vs 93 last year (+38%); also increasing, average prices up 31% and active listings now at 84 vs 53 (2004). The direction of these trends is now obvious.

If we have a moral this month it is: Watch "headlines", beware of aggregation, and look closely at the context of the 'results' quoted. Remember that is the place to visit for North Shore R/E information. This work in progress strives to be the "go to" site for North Shore Real Estate analysis. A jumping off point for FULL market listing information, it also offers a "no obligation" estimate of value for your personal Real Estate. Please use it and continue your valuable feedback.

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
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

All articles by Alan  Skinner

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