Fewer sales, more listings keep lid on home prices

Buyers now have more opportunities and more time to make the right purchase: real estate board president 

New listings in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,680 in September, the third highest volume for that month in 17 years.

New listings in Metro Vancouver totalled 5,680 in September, the third highest volume for that month in 17 years.


Photograph by: Ian Smith, PNG, Vancouver Sun


A combination of fewer sales and more listings is putting the lid on home price increases in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, according to the latest real estate numbers released Tuesday.

"We are in a buyer's market," said Rosario Setticasi, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

"There's lots of choice. [Buyers] don't have to make any rush decisions and they can take the time to buy their dream home."

Reports from the REBGV and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board both concluded that consistent increases in property listings and fewer home sales during the summer months have helped keep price increases in check.

Tsur Somerville, director of the University of B.C. Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said he believes many of the new listings are the result of sellers trying to cash in on higher prices earlier in the year.

"In the first quarter or third of the year, there were really significant price increases, but prices have been flat since May. But on the seller's side, it's a reaction to the beginning of the year. That, mixed with a lot of bad [economic] news means [they're thinking], 'we'd better hurry up and do it.' "

Somerville added: "This isn't driven by sales dropping, but by sales being level while new listings remain strong.

"And it's certainly a more favourable market for buyers."

In Metro Vancouver, sales of all homes on the multiple listing service reached 2,246 in September, a 1.2-per-cent increase compared to the 2,220 sales in September 2010. Those sales also rank as the third lowest total for September during the last 10 years.

Meanwhile, new listings totalled 5,680 in September, the third highest volume for that month in 17 years.

The number represents a 20.1-per-cent increase compared to September 2010, when 4,731 properties were listed for sale, and a 21.2-percent increase compared to the 4,685 new listings reported in August 2011.

The number of properties for sale has increased each month this year to 16,085 homes, up 4.6 per cent in September compared to August and up 4.4 per cent compared to September 2010.

"We've seen the sales-to-listing ratio move from a high of 32 per cent [earlier in the year] to about 14 per cent now," added Setticasi.

"Prices have held, dropping very slightly."

He noted that analysts say a buyer's market takes shape when the ratio dips to about 12 to 14 per cent, or lower, for a sustained period of time.

In the Fraser Valley, property sales during September were the third lowest for that month in the last decade, while new listings in September ranked the second highest.

"This is the third month in a row based on the 10-year average where we've seen lower sales combined with a higher influx of new listings," said Sukh Sidhu, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. "This trend is stabilizing home prices in the Fraser Valley, resulting in the price of a typical detached home in September being only slightly higher than it was in May."

According to the FVREB, 1,165 sales were processed in September, an increase of 12 per cent compared to the 1,044 sales during the same month last year, and a decrease of 13 per cent compared to 1,341 sales in August.

The board also posted 2,651 new properties on its multiple listing service in September, an increase of 10 per cent compared to September of 2010 and about the same as August. The number of active listings in the Fraser Valley stood at 10,096 in September.

Meanwhile, the benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver has increased 8.8 per cent to $627,994 in September 2011 from $577,174 in September 2010.

But the September price is also a 0.5-per-cent drop from June's peak price of $630,921.

The benchmark price for detached properties increased 13.4 per cent from September 2010 to $896,701.

The benchmark price of a detached home in the Fraser Valley in September was $530,321, 4.5 per cent higher than September 2010 and 0.3 per cent higher than August.


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