experts: real estate column Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balance is What We Seek

Watching cycles evolve and change, such as real estate sales on our North Shore, can be fascinating.

By Alan  Skinner

Watching cycles evolve and change, such as real estate sales on our North Shore, can be fascinating. This has come home to me in the past year as we peaked and then slumped in the shadow of the world-wide recessionary environment. It takes a dramatic change to shake one out of the pervasive malaise which the past 10 or so years of strength was lulling us into believing was the norm. The message that I believe the change brings is i) not to take anything “for granted” and ii) that some balance (stability) is what all markets seek; not just real estate.

In order for us, as human beings, to have comfort in making decisions, the existence of a stable environment goes a long way to relieving our stress and enabling us to move toward our goals in life. The goals I speak of in this context are those of first time home ownership, “rehousing/relocating” to accommodate growth and contraction of our family unit and the decisions regarding the more mature end of the spectrum (empty-nesting, retirement and so on). This stability is not always evident and, as decisions cannot be deferred indefinitely, these must often be made in times of instability. I define instability in this context as marked swings in supply (inventory), ditto demand, interest rates, security of income (including employment) and threats to maintaining current wealth .We have some, but clearly not complete, control over these factors. In the process of acquiring or divesting of real estate assets it is of great value to solicit the services of an experienced Realtor who has local knowledge and has seen the progression of a variety of economic cycles. Being armed with the market facts is an imperative part of the ability to make the necessary decisions in times of lesser stability.

A quick comment on interest rates is timely. Rates (while not at an all time low) are relatively stable in the short term. An important part of the search for property is the need to obtain a rate guarantee as well as a financing “pre-approval”. Most financial institutions will provide these guarantees for up to 90 days. Put that little extra effort into getting it – your banker or mortgage broker will assist in this necessary process.

The YTD 2009 [first three quarters] vs. corresponding 2008 figures for the North Shore. North Van detached homes sold are now up by 19% from last year; attached (t/homes) are up by 31% and apartments up by 17% from ‘08. Detached average prices down 9% and inventory Sept 30th, down by 38%. Average prices down 5% (t/hse) and down by 10% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 46% lower than ‘08 and (apt) down from ‘08 by 24%. Again, we continue to see that all N/Van inventory is way lower than the preceding year. Demand is maintaining strength and the general level of sales still continues increasing month by month.

In West Van, detached number of sales YTD is now up from ‘08, as of Sept 30th by 21% (the third consecutive month in about a year). Average price down 15% and inventory Sept 30th down 27% from ‘08. On the condo side – attached (t/hses) sold stand at 35 vs. 46 units last year; average price down 12%. Active listings are up from ‘08 by 6%. Apartments sold now reflect a 7% increase YTD vs. ’08 (121 vs. 113); with average price down 16% and active listings now down 32% from end of Sept ‘08.

It would seem that our North Shore is still seeing a continued drop in inventory (only W/Van t/homes increased marginally) and this trend does not follow the general one evident in Greater Vancouver where inventories are showing a varied pattern of increases. Our prices still appear to have upward potential?

Again, visit my website to see and “hear” the new developments. I continue my commitment to keep you... - 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

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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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