experts: real estate column Monday, April 15, 2013

Demand, the weather cycles and a surprise

When will the reversing of the cycle happen - soon, soonish, much later or never?

By Alan  Skinner

The reference last month to expectation of botanical blooming early in the New Year has reversed itself in the past few weeks. The non-proliferation of sales has clearly taken little advice from the natural world. The warmth of the sun and prolific blossoming has no influence on the fiscal patterns of mortals, except for possibly the purchase of new spring outfits.

When will the reversing of the cycle happen - soon, soonish, much later or never? The answer is much like the answer to the riddle: how long is a piece of string? Everyone having their own concept or opinion and, hopefully not arguing pig-headedly as to the universality of the picture in their own mind. When the concept of that actuality materializes, we can all take our tape measures, prove its dimension and then agree. Likewise, when we see an up or down cycle reversing, we can make a temporal measure of the passage of time since we saw the previous down or up cycle commencing. Interesting conjecture or meaningless semantics (you choose) but either way not nearly as important as the actuality of the arrival.

My regular readers know that I have been saying, for the past few months, that I believe many will shortly look back at the preceding few months and utter the words "If only I'd bought over the last month or so". The $64,000,000 question - how long is shortly? I guess this is where the piece of string comes in!

So, now let me let you in on a "true life/ non-fiction short story". It illustrates the oft touted challenge - 'Why don't you put your money where your mouth is?' Well, in a manner of speaking, I guess I have! Since my last update, my beloved soul mate and I have committed to the purchase of our next home - value somewhat akin to that of our present dwelling. Once that purchase closes (within approximately a year- April 2,2014 to be precise - we shall own Real Estate in Greater Vancouver with a total worth of roughly twice that of today (and have a sizeable 'interim borrowing'). Home #1 will then 'go on the market' for a closing which will hopefully coincide with the completion of the necessary renovations on home #2 ..... and - roll of drums - we shall then move into the "new place" - diarize for the party sometime in September/ October 2014. It will be a clear night to take advantage of the ocean and islands view. See you there! As they say, you can't make this stuff up. Okay, I guess you can, but, as truth is stranger than fiction, factual reporting is more fun and, if it weren't true, ALL of the credibility of would evaporate and not just the part that has already done so ;) . Oh, and did I not mention another fact. The acquired property was listed earlier this year at a figure which happened to be $235,000 higher than the final contract price - Follow your dream!

We turn now to the 'Year to Date' figures for 2013. We now have the first quarter's figures 2013 vs. 2012 (1/4 of a year is better than the 1/6 we had last month!) . North Van detached homes sold, down 14% from last year, attached (t/hses) down 17% and apartments down by 31% from 2012. Detached average prices are unchanged and inventory now up by 38%. Average prices down 4% (t/hses) and down 2% for (apts). Inventory (t/hses) 34% higher than Mar 31st 2012 and (apt) down from the same date by 4%. Remember that numbers here reflect only the activity in 3 months and these minimal figures should not be used to define a serious trend.

In West Van, detached number of sales for 2013 has dropped by 31% from 2012. Average price of what has sold is unchanged and inventory up 21% over Mar 31st 2012. On the condo side - attached (t/hses) sold 2013 are down 54% from 2012 at 10 vs. 22 units. Active listings are up year over year from Mar 31st 2012 by 33% (56 vs. 42). Apartments reflect 33 sold in 2013 vs. 44 by Mar 31st 2012; with average price up 25% from Mar 31st 2012 and active listings up 9% from Mar 31st 2012. Again the sample size is too small for meaningful analysis.

Overall North Shore demand is up a little over the last quarter of 2012 with overall inventory generally climbing since Jan 1st 2013. 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.

'SnapStats' (what price ranges are selling and which are not) is being very well received. I'm now forwarding the past 12 month trend for not only N and W/Van but ALL available metro neighbourhoods, as many w requested. If any locations are not of interest, please ignore those areas.

So, visit my website to see and "hear" the new developments. I continue my promise to keep you... - the "go to" site for N/S R/Estate analysis and jump-off point for FULL market 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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