experts: real estate column Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Of Honour And Optimism

The outcome of our southern neighbour's presidential election and Barack Obama's victory has (and will continue to) inject a long-sought quality of optimism and faith in the future of not only this continent, but well beyond our shores.

By Alan  Skinner

The outcome of our southern neighbour’s presidential election and Barack Obama’s victory has (and will continue to) inject a long-sought quality of optimism and faith in the future of not only this continent, but well beyond our shores. Let us hope that negative media does not achieve what many cynically believe appears to be its goal of neutralizing that positive force. Regain your respected position in the world arena, American cousins!

This same week highlighted Translink’s “honour system” for payment of fares and an opinion thereof by, strangely, a person seeking Vancouver City’s most significant municipal position. It saddens me to see the natural (?) “knee-jerk” reaction of so many being that “the honour system doesn’t work, so install New York type turnstiles at a cost of up to $120million”. Sad that this transit theft is accepted as “only to be expected”.

Since we’re on the subject of “honour” (continuing from a topic I brought up in last month’s Update) I’d like to address the issue of an agent’s fiduciary responsibility. I take most seriously the key job of a Realtor to negotiate strongly for the buying client to achieve the lowest possible price and for the selling client to achieve the current market’s highest possible selling price. And, no, John, this is not a conflict of interest; it is merely the agent’s obligation to achieve the optimal outcome for his or her principal.

This Realtor responsibility, I believe, goes further. We (Realtors) have an obligation to advise our clients who are considering selling, once we know their circumstances, whether it is in their best interest to do so now or seriously consider the option of not offering the property for sale at this time. Realtors need to guard against being seen as “collectors of listings”. Look below at the prevailing growth in inventory which will likely dictate lower selling prices for those competing for the minimal number of current buyers. Good news for potential buyers, I’m sure, but are our selling clients receiving this advice? Solicit this counsel from an experienced Realtor and then make your decision accordingly.

Now to the 10 month YTD 2008 figures vs. 2007 - North Van detached homes sold down 24% from last year, attached (t/homes) down 29% and apartments down by 31% from ‘07. Detached average prices +11% and inventory now up by 155%. Average prices up 6% (t/hse) and up by 9% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 158% higher than ‘07 and (apt) up from ‘07 by 140% - both of these still affected by slower absorption of new construction. While there is some demand, this relatively high inventory will continue to keep sales prices down.

In West Van, detached number of sales has dropped by 35% from ‘07. Average price up 6% and inventory now up 87% over ‘07. On the condo side – attached (t/hses) sold are down 13% from 2007 at 45 vs 52 units; average price down 12% YTD. Active listings are up over last year (44 vs. 36). This “small sample” sector (t/hses) saw an unusual occurrence of a ‘minus 1’ listing sold in Oct. My investigation via the Real Estate Board statisticians has as yet revealed no answer and I assume that this was likely a “collapsed deal” of a townhome reported as sold in September. Apartments reflect 124 sold vs. 179 by Sept ‘07; with average price up 6% from ‘07 and active listings up 56% from ‘07. Overall North Shore demand is sluggish with inventory significantly higher than 2007. Yes, folks, the average prices YTD ’08 vs. ’07are still up in all segments except for the “small sample” t/homes in W/Van. With this few actual sales to compare we are far more prone to anomalies such as possibly fewer “luxury units” changing hands in these lower demand times. Note that I continue to report, as I always have, on average YTD prices – while this softens the impact of recent price slippage, it does show the longer term price picture. This was equally important during the rampant “up-cycle” we left some 6 months ago.

Again, visit my website to see and “hear” the new developments. I continue my commitment to keep you ... 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 and you’ll be assured receipt; phone me at (604) 988-7368 or visit Feel free to forward to a friend.

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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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