experts: real estate column Monday, March 11, 2013

Back to the age of the folk song

Why are we down so much from this time last year? Is it a time for panic?

By Alan  Skinner

We don't expect too many flowers to be blooming in the first few months of the year, but the Peter, Paul and Mary anthem could be reworked to ask the question...where have all the sales gone?.... on our Northshore. Why are we down so much from this time last year? Is it a time for panic? A time to be born, a time to die, a time to reap, a time to sow, a time to refrain from.... OK, OK I'll refrain from refraining.

Why is the inventory (properties for sale) rising around us? .... And yet, the biggest concern of all of you who read this is clearly - what about those poor Realtors, trying to put bread on the table ??! Sorry folk, just a little facetious play for sympathy; I know that is not the big issue here (sob, sob!)

Seriously though, what is the issue and what the cause? Philosophically speaking the drop in sales reflects one major concern of the buying (or non-buying) public - confidence. Confidence in what? - you may ask. Largely, a confidence in the value of our real estate at the present time and specifically the unknown of what it will be tomorrow, next month or April, May and beyond. This represents the last dying moments of a down-cycle that started demand and therefore prices, flagging about nine months ago (late 2nd quarter 2012). It is these dying moments that are the clarion call to the wannabe home owners that NOW and for possibly the next month or so, represents the BEST opportunities for acquiring that home, that you will see for the full duration of the next cycle. Count on it! The best deal that a buyer can (with the help of an experienced Realtor) possibly negotiate.

My apologies to those who may find my message too evangelical but it is tough not to be somewhat passionate about the opportunities you truly believe in.

Now we turn to the 'Year to Date' figures for 2013. We now have 2 months figures 2013 vs. 2012 (1/6th of a year is better than the 1/12th we had last month!) . North Van detached homes sold down 20% from last year, attached (t/homes) down 14% and apartments down by 30% from 2012. Detached average prices up 1% and inventory now up by 47%. Average prices down 6% (t/hse) and no change for (apts). Inventory (t/hse) 20% higher than Feb 28th 2012 and (apt) down from the same date by 9%. Remember that numbers here reflect only the activity in 2 months and these minimal figures should not be used to yet define a serious trend.

In West Van, detached number of sales for 2013 has dropped by 35% from 2012. Average price of what has sold is unchanged and inventory up 27% over Feb 28th 2012. On the condo side - attached (t/hses) sold 2013 are down 54% from 2012 at 6 vs. 13 units. Active listings are up year over year from Feb 28th 2012 by 52% (52 vs. 34). Apartments reflect 18 sold in 2013 vs. 27 by Feb 28th 2012; with average price up 23% from Feb 28th 2012 and active listings up 28% from Feb 28th 2012. Again the sample size is too small for meaningful analysis.

Overall North Shore demand picked up a little (over the last 2/3 months of 2012) with overall inventory generally climbing since Jan 1st 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.

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.

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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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