experts: real estate column Sunday, February 10, 2013

Don't kill, but do investigate, the messenger

The old adage exhorting us to "not kill the messenger" does not imply that we should be kind and blindly accept everything that is said

By Alan  Skinner

The old adage exhorting us to "not kill the messenger" does not imply that we should be kind and blindly accept everything that is said (or put in print). What I am suggesting here is that we question the motivation and allegiance of the speaker. Which radio station WIIFM (what's in it for me?) is the speaker tuned in to? An example may be the economist, David Madani, much quoted in the MacLean's' article last month "Crash and Burn", from Capital Economics group, the one somewhat favoured/quoted by the investment industry (stock sales, mutual funds etc.) appearing, as it did, to be an attempt to scare Canadians out of the real estate market.

Consider - "startling news headlines that an economist named David Madani of Capital Economics saying that house prices could (note - he doesn't say that they will) drop up to 25% if his predictions of a low inflation environment hold true". It is of interest that this comment was in response to an article in the Financial Post, dated, wait for it, early February 2011, 2 years ago. That 25% prediction was trotted out again in the Jan 2013 article. This is not unlike Garth Turner's perennial prediction for an extended time of impending "bubble bursting" as published in his book ("Greater Fool") six years ago. Amazing claims can be made by very selectively choosing two dates, say 4 years apart (or 9 years apart), or(?) and proving with 20/20 hindsight, that your investment would have gone up by 38% or fallen by 22%. The longer term graph is the better descriptor of performance. Blessing the purveyors of shock tactics by buying their books, quoting their rhetoric for short term glorification purposes is not intelligent .... or healthy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - "Why can't we simply refer to cycles"? ... but "Bubbles", "Crash and Burn", "emerging unscathed" and other such examples of sensationalism sell newspapers, magazines and blogs! .... and you are totally welcome to question me as a messenger too!

Now we turn to the 'Year To Date' figures for 2013. Do remember that these are identical to the month of Jan figures 2013 vs. 2012. North Van detached homes sold down 8% from last year, attached (t/homes) down 38% and apartments down by 20% from 2012. Detached average prices down 4% and inventory now up by 49%. Average prices down 14% (t/hse) and up by 3% (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 18% higher than Jan 31st 2012 and (apt) down from the same date by 4%. Remember that numbers here reflect only the activity in the month of January and these minimal figures should not be used to define a trend of any validity.

In West Van, detached number of sales for 2013 has dropped by 2% from 2012. Average price up 8% and inventory up 5% over Jan 31st 2012. On the condo side - attached (t/hses) sold 2013 are unchanged from 2012 at 3 vs. 3 units. Active listings are up year over year from Jan 31st 2012 by 39% (46 vs. 33). Apartments reflect 6 sold in 2013 vs. 10 by Jan 31st 2012; with average price down 5% from Jan 31st 2012 and active listings up 51% from Jan 31st 2012. Again the sample size is too small for meaningful analysis.

Overall North Shore demand has picked up a little (over the last 2/3 months of 2012 with overall inventory generally higher than Jan 31st 2012.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. I continue using average YTD prices which will become more meaningful as we get more months' stats to compare. Open homes visits are markedly up and I am aware of at least 3 cases (in my office alone) of 'multiple offers' on listings.X

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 alanskinner@shaw.ca 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... www.OnTopOfTheMarket.ca - 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 alanskinner@shaw.ca; phone (604) 988-7368 or visit www.OnTopOfTheMarket.ca and you'll be added.




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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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