experts: real estate column Monday, June 11, 2007

To Stay Put Or To Move?

Let's consider affordability and the whole concept of Quality of Life.

By Alan  Skinner

The Vancouver Sun ran an article recently highlighting the affordability of housing in Northern B.C. and cited an increasing number of people leaving Southern B.C. (focus on the Lower Mainland) and moving north. This causes one to consider affordability and the whole concept of Quality of Life. Ask yourself the question, “where will I (we) be in 20 years?” – or more to the point, “where would I (we) like to be in 20 years?” Clearly, no human being can, or should, dictate another’s concept of that quality (but financial factors sure have a way of doing so!) The article touched on the “north of Kamloops” lifestyle, used qualitative terms such as “getting out of the rat race”, “better atmosphere for the kids” and the like. There were quotes from local mayors, my friend Glen Holling of Re/max, the current president of the BC Northern Real Estate Board and various others who had relocated there. Subjective language, as we know, is often used to justify one’s personal decisions. Another way of putting it is that the Pro’s and Con’s lists of the wider spectrum of people can differ radically. Clearly though, it is the collective similarity of different groups’ Pro’s and Con’s lists that dictates the higher demand for living in, say the Vancouver area and, a good specific example, a location such as our desirable North Shore. Higher demand – higher prices; less demand – lower prices. See just how many ways there are to discuss affordability?

A quick note on the CMHC 2nd Quarter Housing Market Outlook (available online). Their economic analysts remain bullish on Greater Vancouver (Lower Mainland) stating their estimates to be 3.1% growth for 2007 and 3.4% for 2008. They further predict a positive in-migration of “more than 30,000 people in each of the coming years”. Despite some minor short term mortgage rate increases they feel rates will stay “low over the remainder of this year and in 2008”.

Now, the North Shore figures (N/Van 1st). Yes, 2007 is continuing the upward price trend. So much for the consensus of half a year ago that the market was “leveling off”. The rate of price growth has however abated somewhat. The YTD (year-to-date) figure comparison shows mixed but reasonably comparable number of sales as last year. Detached average prices +9% (on 36 fewer sales) and inventory 2% lower than a year ago. On the attached (t/hse and apt) front, sales numbers down by 6 from ’06 (t/hse) and up by 33 (apt). Average prices up 10% (t/hse) and up by 12% for apartments. Inventory (t/hse) 40% higher than ’06, and (apt) up from ’06 by 18%.

In West Vancouver, detached number of sales down 6%. Average price up 14% and inventory now 19% higher than ’06. On the condo side – attached (t/hses) sold are down 36% from 2006; average price change up 7% based on 28 sales YTD. Active listings now up 66% over last year. Apartments reflect 2% fewer sales vs. ’06 and active listings 13% lower. An explanation of the “average price” change is necessary here. It shows as a 10% drop brought about by the anomaly of 8 new units being sold this year for a total of under $9.5MM and 11 new units in the corresponding period of ’06 for over $22MM. Note: “resale” apartments saw a 5% increase for this period. North Shore demand is healthy with inventory showing some (mixed) improvement.

Again, visit my website to see and “hear” the new developments. I continue my commitment to keep you…. www.OnTopOfTheMarket.ca. This work in progress strives to be the “go to” site for North Shore Real Estate analysis and jumping off point for FULL market listing information.

To join the group subscribing to the e-mail version of this “update” - send a request now to alanskinner@shaw.ca (or from the website) and you’ll be assured receipt; phone me at (604) 988-7368 or visit www.OnTopOfTheMarket.ca.




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Recent Articles by this columnist:

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