experts: real estate column Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baby Steps and Only Two Months Old

A clearer picture is slowly emerging with West Van - stronger sales and lower inventory; North Van - increasing sales and a climbing inventory.

By Alan  Skinner

A clearer picture is slowly emerging with West Van - stronger sales and lower inventory; North Van - increasing sales and a climbing inventory - but where will we be as the year progresses? I will now state the most common response to this and questions of a similar ilk - who knows?

What will life in Libya be like by July 2011? Will the Canucks win the Stanley Cup? When will we have a Christchurch style earthquake? Is health destined to deteriorate as we age? ... and the fact of the matter is no one knows! This doesn't mean that nobody has an opinion. This scribe has been known to stick his neck out and voice one (maybe too often ;) ). The only way to be sure of an outcome is with the benefit of hindsight. This, I guess most will likely agree, is often too late to help us with a decision that we'd like to make now.

So, is the solution not to make decisions? Probably for many but as we know, some must be made. Deciding which events to attend at the 2010 Olympics is one that could not have been delayed 'til June of 2010. That would mean not attending any which of course is a legitimate decision but not one that satisfies the person who had wanted to attend some. Clearly decisions will be made with partial information and no guarantee of the outcome. Personally, my Nortel share purchase falls into that category! We regularly use the term 'an informed decision'. A definition thereof could be a decision made at or after the point where we convince ourselves after adequate research that we have sufficient input. In Real Estate the decision 'to buy' or 'to sell' (or defer these) should be made only when we have satisfied our personal version of the above definition. Isn't a philosophical discussion fun! maybe, but we do eventually get to the practical [rubber hits the road] moment and must be ready to turn right ... or left ... or go straight on ... or put our vehicle in reverse ... or ... what? ... shift into the 'indecision' of the neutral gear?

The key lies in the 'informed' part of our personal definition. The best advice is to listen to those we have defined as experienced and trustworthy, as many of these sources, people, databases as we can reasonable access within our busy time schedules and then decide. Remember that the adjective 'decisive' comes from the verb to decide.

Many a potential buyer who concluded that the "soft" market of the second half of 2010 was not the time to decide, is, and will be regretting that [in]decision? I stand by my belief (Feb Update) that "overall 2011 will be a 'firmer' year than 2010. 'Firmer' in this case meaning a year of gently increasing values and a higher number of sales in total".

Now for the 2011 year to date [Jan/Feb] results for our North Shore. North Van detached homes sold are up by 33% from the previous year, attached (t/hses) up 5% and apartments even with 2010. Detached of the 111 sold YTD, average price is down 2% and inventory Feb 28th, up by 27%. Average prices up 2% (t/hses) and down 9% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 19% higher than Feb 28th/10 and (apt) up 15% from 2010. N/Van inventory at Feb 28th '11 continues to be markedly higher than 2010. N/Van is now +14% in number of sales '10 to '11(334 vs. 293).

In West Van, detached number of sales for 2011 is up by 60% from last year. Average price up by 19% and inventory Feb 28th down by 1% from Feb 2010. On the condo side sales of attached (t/hses) stand at 8 vs. 13 units; average price down 31%. Active listings down from Feb 28th /10 (36 vs. 40). Apartments sold are up 8% over 2010; with average price 7% higher than '10 and active listings down 15% from Feb 28th '10.

With the extra month under our belts a more realistic pattern emerges. More months, more clarity.

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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