experts: real estate column Friday, October 15, 2010

Dare we admit we're happy?

Report: Throughout the region, North Shore residents appeared to be the happiest of the lot...

By Alan  Skinner

If ever there was a headline that was tough to top, it is that in the Tuesday Oct 5th edition of the Vancouver Sun. Quote - "Want to be happy? Move to the North Shore" This was an article on the recently released 2010 Vital Signs Report by the Vancouver Foundation and its byline stated "Survey shows residents there are Metro's most satisfied". Comments included the following "Throughout the region, North Shore residents appeared to be the happiest of the lot, with 37% saying the quality of life is excellent here, compared with those in the Tri-Cities and Maple Ridge, who said it was only fair to poor. North Shore residents also made up a fair chunk of the 60% of Metro residents who described themselves as "unusually happy and interested in life." [read all] (Want to be happy? Move to the North Shore)

Why I used this month's heading hints at two things - i) our Canadian reticence to make categorical and unqualified statements, and ii) letting out our secret lest we trigger (provoke?) an influx! The region's "physical beauty" followed by "the weather, climate and year-round recreation", factors to which North and West Van contribute significantly, are cited as the strong points. So too are Belonging, Health and Wellness and Environmental Sustainability.

Then, why - says this scribe - aren't we being inundated with wannabe North Shore residents? The answers are twofold - economically we are in an overall "lower confidence" (call it nervous) phase which tempers the 'acquisition' (or 'move-up') mode and the second answer is not an answer at all, but a statement ... We are at a lull in an extended period of high demand for North Shore residency. It will return and we will see continued evidence of this desire to live "north of the bridges" [1st and 2nd narrows]. Some geographic sub sectors of "Metro" may be seeing prices sliding back from '09 but do look at the actual Real Estate Board stats (below) for North Shore average prices year over year.

I have been tracking the graph of the number of listings in both N and W Vancouver. Over this calendar year we have witnessed the steady increase in properties for sale from around February to late June and then a relatively stable period with, latterly, some uptick in September. Early October numbers show indication of some decline - will this continue as a trend? The next few weeks will tell. It remains true, however, that the supply level when faced with the demand will dictate price stability (or fluctuation). My 2 cents - the North Shore will likely not be affected by a decline in values.

Now September 2010 YTD figures for our North Shore. North Van detached homes sold are off by 12% from the same period of the previous year, attached (t/hses) down 17% from '09 and apartments down 9% from '09. Detached average prices up 8% and inventory Sept 30th, up by 32%. Average prices up 8% (t/hses) and up 10% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 43% higher than '09 and (apt) up 25% from '09. N/Van inventory at Sept 30th is still significantly higher than 2009 (but is below/maintaining the earlier 2010 levels).

In West Van, detached number of sales is up by 8% from '09. Average price up by 20% and inventory Sept 30th up by 20% from '09. On the condo side - attached (t/hses) sold are up from 2009 to 59 vs. 35 units; average price up 37%. Active listings up from Sept 30th (53 vs. 48). Apartments reflect 126 sold vs. 121 during '09; with average price 14% higher than '09 and active listings up 41% from Sept 30th 09.

I remain of the opinion that the current market presents opportunities for judicious bargain buys as many properties languish on the market with motivated owners and many buyers continue to be reticent to test this motivation.

With our "Indian" summer - full sunshine and 17 degress outside as I write this - what am I doing indoors? To all, a most Happy Thanksgiving (Dare we admit we're happy!)

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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Want to be happy? Move to the North Shore

Alan Skinner

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