experts: real estate column Friday, October 12, 2012

Of Beauty Contests And Price Wars

The pairing off of willing sellers and willing buyers was far more plentiful in '11 than thus far in '12

By Alan  Skinner

I am reminded of a comment made of their market, by a US Realtor a year or so back, that it had become "a combination between a beauty contest and a price war". This could well apply in our market too and somewhat highlights the message that "to sell one must stage the property and price it to compete". I'll address my usual "supply vs. demand" comments in a more basic way this month (although I won't omit the usual N/Van - W/Van synopsis in closing). I'm addressing the number of actual sales (9 mth - year to date) of all residential units and end of Sept inventory '11 vs. '12.

Of Beauty Contests And Price Wars

W/Van first - total sales ('11) 1188 vs. ('12) 686 - down 42%.
Units for sale Sept 30/11 - 624 vs. Sept 30/12 - 750 up by 20%.
N/Van - total sales ('11) 1936 vs. ('12) 1595 - down 18%.
Units for sale Sept 30/11 - 927 vs. Sept 30/12 - 1132 up by 22%

This tells us that the pairing off of willing sellers and willing buyers was far more plentiful in '11 than thus far in '12. It also appears that there are lots (high inventory) of willing sellers today but, at the prices asked, not nearly as many willing buyers (diminished sales).

A proposition! Say, for a minute, the Supply side represented by potential sellers, got together and said... buyers (Demand side) are not appearing confident to make the decision to buy. Therefore it makes sense to take our homes off the market (or not add them to the supply pool). But, I hear you say, that is not realistic as so many of us really want to (need to) sell. Precisely my point! Now, and this is not meant to be facetious: Sellers, realize that it is your collective wants and needs that will cause prices to drop. Supply must decrease or the confidence of the buyers must be restored. We do know that a very large part of that "damage" can be repaired by the actions of our neighbours to the south and a "normalizing" of the European economy. Just how long will that take?

What of Realtor fiduciary responsibility? We (Realtors) have an obligation to advise our clients who are considering selling, once we know their full 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". The recent growth in inventory 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 summary of North Shore results. North Van detached homes sold are down 'year to date' by 22% from this time last year, attached (t/hses) sold - down 22% and apartments down 11% from 2011. Detached - average price is 7% higher than 2011 and inventory Sept 30th, 2012 up 45% from 2011. Average prices up 6% (t/hses) and no change (apts). Inventory (t/hses) up 38% from Sept 30th, 2011 and (apt) up 6% from 2011.

In West Van, detached number of sales to date 2012 is down by 48% from last year. Average price up by 9% and inventory Sept 30th, 2012 up 17% from last year. On the condo side - sales of attached (t/hses) are up, at 58 vs. 48 units; average price is now 22% higher. Active listings as at Sept 30th, 2012 (63 vs. 34). Apartments sold are down from 2011 (131 vs. 171), with average price 13% lower than' 11 (remember the small sample size) and active listings up 13% from Sept 30th, 2011 (118 vs. 104).

My recent addition of 'SnapStats' (what price ranges are selling and which are not) has been well received. Thanks for the calls and e-mail. I am happy to forward the past 12 month trend for not only N and W/Van but including ALL metro neighbourhoods as many have requested. Just fire off an e-mail to me at asking for SnapStats. If any are not of interest, please ignore those areas.

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" and SnapStats - send a request now to and you'll be assured receipt; phone me at (604) 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

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