experts: real estate column Friday, July 22, 2011

Ignore The Text ... Seek The Sub-Text

It should never be forgotten that Real Estate markets comprise myriads of subsections.

By Alan  Skinner

It should never be forgotten that Real Estate markets comprise myriads of subsections. The most obvious of which are the geographic ones. Few would contest that West Vancouver residential property is currently in higher demand (and shorter supply) than that in, say, Chilliwack. Other "subsections" would be type of home e.g. Condo apartment, townhome or detached house. Price bands also create further delineation - 'I can afford an apartment of $200,000 to $300,000 but definitely not over $350,000' - or 'I need a 5 bedroom, 6 bathroom home with a view and will pay up to $10MM but know I will not get what I want for under $7MM'. These are obviously wildly differing demand bands but need to be explored if one is to understand what is being said when the press, a Toronto banker or foreclosure lawyer makes a statement. Consider "Sales soar", "Prices of homes are static" "Desperate sellers accept 60% of asking price" and so on. These are all meaningless unless the context (location, availability and cost of finance, strength of demand, extent of supply and other regional economic factors are known) ... and we haven't yet even mentioned summer vacation distraction, spring flooding or winter snow conditions!

When the (hopefully) experienced Realtor urges listing of a home by, say, 'May or June at the latest' or buying in a 'high supply period' (even though the search in Dec/Jan is cold and uninviting) take time to listen and consider that advice. As in all things; select your professional advisor with care.

A brief word on interest rates. There is much speculation at the time of writing that mortgage rates may be rising and we are seeing some minor adjustment by some lenders of their 3 yr/5yr rates. Further fear of prime rate (Bank rate) increases is being talked about. While we will see these isolated and relatively minor 10 or 20 point (i.e. 1/100th of 1%) I do not believe that the Bank of Canada will push up the national Bank Rate in the short term. Buyers should , however, not ignore "locking in" the rate at which they are preapproved for their mortgages.

Now to the picture of our North Shore first half (Jan to June 2011). North Van detached homes sold are up by 34% from the previous year, attached (t/hses) sold no change and apartments now up 1% from 2010. Detached average price is 7% higher than this time '10 and inventory June 30th '11, down by 28%. Average prices up 2% (t/hses) and down 2% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 15% lower than June 30th '10 and (apt) down 4% from 2010. N/Van overall inventory at June 30th '11is markedly lower (-16%) than 2010 and N/Van, 16% higher in total number of sales '10 to '11(1236 vs. 1429).

In West Van, detached number of sales for 2011 is up by 97% from last year. Average price up by 16% and inventory June 30th '11 down by 16% from last year. On the condo side sales of attached (t/hses) are lower at 38 vs. 42 units; average price down 21%. Active listings down from June 30th '10 (33 vs. 50). Apartments sold are up 45% over 2010; with average price 16% higher than '10 and active listings down 19% from June 30th '10. Overall markedly lower inventory and strong demand, especially at the upper end price-wise.

Yes, dramatic sales growth in W/Van with shrinking inventory and N/Van, higher sales with inventory starting to shrink.

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 those wishing to get 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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