experts: real estate column Monday, February 11, 2008

Figures, Fixations and the Future

As long as we accept that 'one month doth not a trend make' we should consider the January figures in that light. Two or three months into 2008 and beyond will start becoming more pertinent.

By Alan  Skinner

Why are we fixated with 'calendar years'? Probably, I guess, because we can “parcel up” a year and then “put it away” for future reference. The reason I mention this is that our January (YTD) information, especially when compared with last January’s info is not terribly meaningful. So, as long as we accept that “one month doth not a trend make” we should consider the Jan figures below in that light. Two or three months into 2008 and beyond will start becoming more pertinent.

Significant at anytime however is the actual current supply (properties for sale) and the perceived demand (those seriously seeking to buy in the short term). It is this concept that I’ll use as the segue to my (promised) attempt at prognostication (or simply put – opinion of market direction!)

Firstly, we see actual year over year supply of detached homes up 28% in West Van and down 4% in North Van. Attached (t/homes and duplexes) are up 95% in W/V and down 5% in N/V. Apts for W/V virtually identical to 2007 but up 42% in N/V. Demand, on the opposite side seems strong, gauging by the showing requests and open house attendance of late. So where is this all taking us? What will happen to prices? Would only an idiot make a prediction? What the heck! – “in for a penny, in for a pound” (as my dear aunt Agatha used to say). My “educated” guess is a gently positive trend on all fronts. This is despite the obvious “world” (read, mainly U.S.) economic concerns, e.g. subprime mortgages and U.S. foreclosures. The trouble with making predictions is that people ‘may’ look back at those predictions at a future date once the facts are known. I do note that my somewhat conservative predictions of last year were outstripped by actual increases in all N/Shore segments. Yes, I am bullish and will be surprised if any segment of the N/Shore does not evidence at least a 5% price increase. There, I’ve said it!

Now for the current 2008 “pinch of salt” figures! - North Van detached sold 46 vs 50 in Jan last year, attached (t/homes) 16 vs 26 and apartments 63 sold vs 52 in ’07. Detached average prices +35% and inventory now down by 4%. Average prices up 16% (t/hse) and up by 23% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 5% lower than ‘07 and (apt) up from ’07 by 42%.. This defies the overall inventory pattern which has been lower in all categories but is caused by the many “new construction” units listed in the later months.

In West Vancouver, detached number of sales up marginally 2%. Average price up 22% and inventory up 28% over ’07. On the condo side – attached (t/hses) sold are unchanged from 2007; average price down 4% based on 2 sales YTD. Active listings now almost double last year at 41 vs 21. Apartments reflect 11 sold vs 3 in Jan ’07; with average price up (26%) from ‘07 and active listings up 1% over ‘07. North Shore demand is still healthy with inventory generally a little higher.

The sales figures are factual. The projections are just my opinion folks at the 1 furlong mark in a 12 furlong race. Oh, and by the way, “aunt Agatha” is just a fiction.

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 getting the e-mail version of this “update” - send a request now to alanskinner@shaw.ca and you’ll be assured receipt; phone me at (604) 988-7368 or visit www.OnTopOfTheMarket.ca . Feel free to forward to a friend!




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