experts: real estate column Monday, November 14, 2005

Good News Depends On Who You Are and What You Want To Hear

Economic good news - the province's fortunes improving, the GNP rising, unemployment shrinking and the like, is greeted by many with a sour disdain and an "it won't last" reaction.

By Alan  Skinner

If you were a golfer and new golf balls cost, say $3 each, the news that high quality golf balls made in Milwaukee were being imported and were to sell at $1.50 each, may be exciting news. If you were a B.C. producer of good quality golf balls which cost you $1.75 to make, the news may not be good - in fact it may be devastating. In the same way, the owner of real estate (or more than one piece thereof) may be excited by property prices doubling in, say 5 years. If you own none and wish to, that same news is not good news. Furthermore, believe me, it is tough to be "unselfish" and be happy for those recipients of the "good news version". I seek out and see commentary from both sides in this "debate" and find it hard not to detect a tinge of bitterness in the "have not" group and often a desire to see the growth cease and a reversal occur.

Economic good news - the province's fortunes improving, the GNP rising, unemployment shrinking and the like, is greeted by many with a sour disdain and an "it won't last" reaction. Indeed the news this past week that Canada's unemployment is at a 30 year low (and its positive effect on the economy and the county's efficiency) received far less press (and repetition) than an 1/8th % increase in the 5 yr mortgage interest rate (a fact that the local North Shore market and indeed most of the Greater Vancouver area, seems to shrug off and find of negligible impact). The commentary invariably goes like this ... "Is this just the beginning of a series of major rate hikes? .... What would be the effect of a 3 or more % increase in the near future?" The CMHC and BC Central Credit Union commentators (economists) give their rational analysis and opinion regarding the stability of interest rates in the near future and medium term. The "what do they know!" group then wade in with their "what if this gets worse? Etc, etc" rhetoric and receive equal media attention.

I'll finish this off with a comment on a recent Vancouver Sun article headlined "Economic Collision Points" - well written and food for thought. A sub-headline, though, read... "The bad old days - will mortgage rates hit 21% again?" - Indeed an attention grabber. The following "fine print" espoused just how unlikely it was for that to happen. Sadly, the "bad news" impact will likely have done its damage if the casual page turner does not read the full article. I believe it was Alexander Pope who said - "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring". The news is good, the position is healthy, our North Shore has solid demand and, alas, for the current property shopper - available product is limited. It is however unnecessary to tell that to my client of last week and the five other would be buying clients who were unsuccessful in buying the home that sold for $36,000 more than the asking price. That seller's good news was six families' bad news.

Number of N/Van detached sales still exceeds the same period last year by 1%. Average prices +10% and inventory 13% lower than last year. On the attached (t/hse) front, sales numbers up 25% while apartment sales show increased growth of 6%. Average prices up 12% (t/hse) and 18% (apt). Inventories at -28% (t/hse) and -24% (apt). Demand (buyers) remains strong with inventory still well below '04 in all segments.

W/Van detached's YTD drop in number of sales (-2%); average price remains up +11% and inventory a little better at only 22% down from 2004! The condo picture continues mixed - attached (t/hses) down 19% in number of sales; average prices strong (up 29%). Active listings 4 higher than last year at 35 units. Apartments show 200 sold vs 151 last year (+32%); with average prices up 13% and active listings standing at 84 vs 58 (2004) still reflecting the new building activity.

Your scribe has finished penning this monthly update on his birthday - what dedication! (one celebrates these with less and less gusto!) and I see, in looking back, that this is my 60th issue, having started these in the late '90s. I enjoy this mini analysis - it also keeps me honest by extracting the actual figures and not resorting to a "gut-feel" (how busy have I been lately?) assessment. Thanks for reading them. A.

Remember that OnTopOfTheMarket.ca 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
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How well do we stack up?
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Resistance to change and compliance delay
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Of urban planning and municipal wisdom
Thursday, April 17, 2014


Yes, it's official - demand is rising
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