experts: real estate column Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The End or a Beginning?

A comparison of the calendar year results for 2012 vs. 2011

By Alan  Skinner

I referred in December to the "year coasting to a quiet close" and boy was it quiet! This month's Update (the first edition of 2013) addresses a comparison of the calendar year results for 2012 vs. 2011, always a fun one to pull together as it takes the actual stats of two full years and, in a way, puts the old year to bed. I'll get to these momentarily; firstly a comment on my headline and its possible "dark side". As a subscriber to MacLean's magazine I get an advance copy thereof (digital download). Behold the first issue of 2013 (this is the Jan 14th edition, loaded into my iPad on Jan 4th). I guess 'publication date' is a flexible concept ;) ! I urge all "balance minded" folk to read it and make their own judgement accordingly. Here we go - the front page article (accompanying a picture representing an alternative concept of 'prices going through the roof') sports the headline "Inside the Great Real Estate Crash of 2013". The article on page 44 shows a lurid photograph of flames surrounding a high-rise building and in block capitals the legend CRASH AND BURN. In an arena where opinion is fairly evenly spread between the "we're doomed" believers and the "logically it is a correction" brigade, the only 'economists' quoted are those who would likely appreciate Mr. Sorensen's rhetoric and the graphics used. Yes, I do understand the journalistically provocative style adopted by this publication (commencing about 4/5 years ago) and I'm cognizant of the concept of the "debate" which needs to open with a "speaking for the motion" piece.

Not wanting to question every comment raised, I will address one statement made. It refers to the three months of 'falling housing starts' as a bad thing and an indicator of impending Real Estate Armageddon (my hyperbole - I apologize) . Why could that not be seen as a likely indication that builders and developers are making an intelligent business decision? A logical response to the signs in the market. I do believe that this journalistic piece will be seen as a 'poke' to make the Canadian homeowner and those currently renting question all the pros and cons of being in or being out.

Now, at last, the full 12 month (YTD) 2012 figures vs. 2011. North Van detached homes sold down 22% from last year, attached (t/homes) down 20% and apartments down by 14% from 2011. Detached average prices +4% and inventory now up by 57%. Average prices up 2% (t/hse) and up by 1% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 42% higher than Dec 31st 2011 and (apt) up from the same date by 3%. These relatively high inventories and soft demand will continue to keep sales prices reined in.

In West Van, detached number of sales for 2012 has dropped by 47% from 2011. Average price up 7% and inventory up 24% over Dec 31st 2011. On the condo side - attached (t/hses) sold 2012 are up 6% from 2011 at 64 vs. 60 units (townhomes being the only contrarian). Active listings are up year over year from Dec 31st 2011by 57% (44 vs. 28). Apartments reflect 159 sold in 2012 vs. 209 by Dec 31st 2011; with average price down 11% from Dec 31st 2011 and active listings up 67% from Dec 31st 2011.

Overall North Shore demand is sluggish with inventory much higher than Dec 31st 2011. Yes, the average prices YTD 2012 vs. 2011 are still up in all segments except for the "small sample" apts in W/Van. With this few actual sales to compare we are far more prone to anomalies e.g. possibly fewer "luxury units" selling in these lower demand times. Note, I'm using, as I always have, average YTD prices - while this may soften the impact of recent price slippage, it shows the price picture over the longer term. This was equally important during the "up-cycle" we left some 9 months ago.

The 'SnapStats' (what price ranges are selling and which are not) is being extremely well received. I am now forwarding the past 12 month trend for not only N and W/Van but including ALL available metro neighbourhoods, as many were requesting. Just fire off an e-mail to me at asking for SnapStats. If any locations 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. Join those wishing to get the e-mail version of the "update" and SnapStats - send a request to; phone (604) 988-7368 or visit and you'll be added.

A fulfilling and rewarding 2013 to everyone, may we continue to appreciate the privilege of living in this great country of ours.

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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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