Welcome to January 2021 - Please fasten your seat belts.
Some will express surprise that, as we enter the second year of a global pandemic, the rush to purchase homes in Greater Vancouver continues the startling sales pace seen in 2020. But there is a simple reason for the January surge: price appreciation as accelerating buyer demand collides with a stubborn lack of inventory.
This time last year we were seeing the signs of a market picking up steam after two subpar years induced by government intervention. Back then it was already quite clear that we were due for a rebound in 2020 as buyers and sellers got accustomed to the new taxes, stress test, etc. Enter a global pandemic and the brakes are on – but only to delay the inevitable. Check out the pattern of this graph:
As we can see, average sales prices in the Lower Mainland steadily go up over time with peaks every 4 to 5 years. We all know that markets inevitably have highs and lows so the true measure of their strength lies in the gaps when external pressures are weak and they take their natural course. By looking between the last three peaks of 2007/2008, 2011/2012 and 2016/2017, we can see that prices gain at a slower, steady pace but that was not the case in the current cycle. We’re now exactly 4-5 years removed from the last boom and prices were flat until people re-evaluated their housing needs due to COVID-19 and, by no coincidence, the Fraser Valley Board started to see a surge since last Summer. Given the levels of sales activity since then and people’s willingness to engage amidst a pandemic, the question is no longer if prices will go up but by how much?
In the past 12 months, the average price (based on dollar volume of sales) of a Greater Vancouver home has increased in value by $93,529, which is far higher than the average household income. In the detached house sector, where sales exploded in January, the average year-over-year price increase is well into the six digits. As an example, the average detached house price in North Burnaby has increased by $283,456 since January 2020.
Multiple bids are being seen from West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast to south of the Fraser River and in every property sector, from detached houses to condominium apartments. In Greater Vancouver during January, 53% of new listings sold, and the sales-to-listing ratio has surpassed 50% for the past seven months. There is little relief coming in new construction. As 2021 started, only 241 detached houses and 230 townhouses had started construction across all of Metro Vancouver, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. data. Of the total 1,628 new apartment starts, 28% were rentals and many of the remaining condo apartments had been pre-sold months earlier.
What to expect for the 2021 housing market? More of the same. With mortgage interest rates at 100-year-lows and home prices rising an average of nearly $8,000 per month, buyers and investors have awoken to an unprecedented buying opportunity.
Greater Vancouver: In January, 2,454 homes of all property types sold in Greater Vancouver. This compares to 1,602 in January 2020 and 1,120 in January of 2019 and a 28% increase from January of 2015, long considered the peak year for Greater Vancouver housing sales. Another telling stat: during the boom year of 2015, the benchmark January home price was $648,700. This January it was $1,056,600. Yes, we are into an unprecedented seller’s market.
Listings continue to decline as total active listings in January 2021 were 8,820, down from 9,307 in January 2020 and from 11,427 in January 2018. With the current sales-to-listing ratio pace, there is a mere four months of inventory in the entire Greater Vancouver housing market.
Looking at the different types of property sales in Greater Vancouver, January 2021 year-over-year numbers were:
Detached homes - sales up 41.8% and new listings declined 0.4%;
Townhouses - sales up 42.8% and new listings increased 16%;
Condominium apartments - sales up 46.8% and new listings increased 27%.
Detached houses in January made up 30% of all sales, compared to 27% in January 2020; townhouses represented 18% of sales, down from 20% a year earlier; and condo apartment sales totalled 49% of total sales compared to 51% in January 2020.
JANUARY 2021 HIGHLIGHTS
- Average composite home price increase year-over-year in Greater Vancouver: 10.8%
- Biggest detached house price increase year-over-year: Bowen Island (up 30%)
- Biggest detached house price increase, mainland: Port Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows (up 15.4%)
- Lowest benchmark condo price: Maple Ridge ($375,000)
- Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver
Vancouver Westside: The Westside is the traditional bellwether for aspirational house buyers in Canada and January will be a month to remember, with detached sales rising 100% compared to the same month in either 2020 or 2019. The average price of the 68 Westside houses sold in January was $3,718,280, an increase of $450,000 from a year earlier.
In the townhouse sector, the 38 sales in January matched the record-setting December 2020 sales pace and were up 26% from January 2020. A slight increase in inventory – 106 new listings were added in the month - kept average January townhouse prices in check, rising about $20,000 from a month earlier to $1,411,711.
The condominium market saw January sales increasing 35% from January 2020, to 285 transactions. This was the lowest monthly sales level since July 2020, which may be a reaction to a frustrating lack of listings. Just 639 new listings came to the market in January, down 21% from the same month a year earlier. The average price of a Westside condo apartment is now $934,550, up more than $38,000 from December 2020, and multiple bids are not uncommon.
Vancouver East Side: The line between the Eastside and Westside of Vancouver is rapidly blurring and this January was the latest indication. More detached houses sold on the Eastside – 109 – in January than on the Westside – 68 – a trend apparent for some time. Over the past five years, the price of an Eastside detached house increased 24% while it advanced just 9% on the Westside. In the past 12 months, the average Eastside house price increased by $20,000 per month – to $1,829,643 in January - yet prices are still half that of a detached house west of Quebec Street. Watch for rising demand and prices for Eastside houses and residential land from Renfrew Street to Mount Pleasant as the new Broadway Corridor SkyTrain line moves closer to reality. New Listings for Eastside houses in January were 175, resulting in a sales-to-new-listing ratio of 62%, slightly above the 2020 average.
Townhouse sales were relatively robust in January. The 48 transactions in the month were down from the 66-unit per month average in the fourth quarter of 2020, but up 60% from January 2020. New listings, at 103, were the highest in two months and the sales-to-new-listing ratio was a healthy 47%. The average price of an Eastside townhouse in January reached $1,152,453, up 2.6% from a year earlier.
While condo sales in January were up from the 78 units In January 2020, the 99 sales were at the lowest monthly level since June of last year. The average condo price now is $680,177, up 10% from January 2020 and approximately $48,000 higher than in December 2020. With 216 new listings in January, the sales-to-new-listing ratio was 46%, indicating a seller’s market.
North Vancouver: Sales of detached houses in North Vancouver soared 87% in January compared to January 2020, but new listings fell by 33%, and the effect was reflected in prices. The average price of the 45 houses sold in January was $2,144,851, up from just over $1.89 million in December.
There were 67 new listings for townhouses in January, the highest level in five months, and 61% of them sold at an average price of $1,184,760, a price up 14% from January 2020.
After four months of hectic action with condominium apartment sales averaging 130 units per month, North Vancouver condo sales slipped to 92 in January, but represented 52% of the new listings added in the month. The average condo apartment price is now $708,656, up 15% from January 2020.
West Vancouver: Detached houses, which are the dominate property type in West Vancouver, notched 29 sales during January at an average price of $3,983,544. January sales were just eight units above January 2020 and the new listings, at 135, were up by just one house. The big difference was the January average price, which soared 21% - or $714,000 – higher than in the same month a year ago
Richmond: There was a moderate cooling of the red-hot Richmond detached house sales, with transactions dipping to 71 houses in January, the slowest monthly level since May 2020, though 36% above January 2020. With the sales-to-new listing ratio at 47%, the average house price was up nearly 5% year-over-year to $1,749,213 in January.
There was much-needed increase in townhouse listings in Richmond, with 137 units added in January, the highest level in four months. This is partly due to city zoning which has encouraged townhouse development on major Richmond streets since 2017. January sales of 64 townhouses represented 47% of all new listings. The average townhouse price in January was $911,959, up 9% from January 2020.
Condominium apartment sales in Richmond reached 141 units in January, up from 101 transactions in January 2020. With 303 new listings added, the sales-to-new-listing ratio was 47%, slightly lower than the 54% ratio seen in 2020. The average price of a Richmond condo is $613,385, up about 3% from a year earlier and approximately $49,000 above the average price in December 2020.
Burnaby East: The low inventory of detached houses was very apparent in Burnaby East, where buyers snapped up 80% of the new listings – 10 – that were added to the January market. The eight houses sold went for an average of $1,560,625,up 23% from January 2020.
The townhouse market was even tighter, with the 6 sales representing 100% of the new listings added in January. The resultant multiple bids drove the average townhouse price up 17% – about $124,000 – from December 2020.
Based on the current sales pace, there is only a three-month supply of condo apartments in Burnaby East, where the 13 sales in January absorbed 48% of the new listings. The January average condo price, at $607,284, compares to $563,914 year ago.
Burnaby North: The price of a detached house in Burnaby North reached a record high average of $1,704,836 in January as 22 houses sold, representing a sales-to-new listing ratio of 71%. Total active listings, at 68 in January, are at the lowest level in at least two years.
Sales of townhouses reached 22 in January, the lowest level in seven months, but this is likely a reflection of few new listings. With just 31 townhouses added to the market and active listings at two-year lows, the January sales-to-new-listing ratio was 71%. The average Burnaby North townhouse sold in January for $982,916, up 14% from January 2020.
Condo apartment sales continued the blistering pace seen in 2020, with 96 transactions in January, up 74% from January 2020. With 180 new listings, North Burnaby’s condo sales-to-new-listing ratio was 53%. The average condo price slipped down 4% from a year ago, to $597,117.
Burnaby South: With 26 detached house sales in January, transactions were close to the monthly average over the past 12 months and active listings, at 120, were also fairly constant in this very stable market. The outlier is average house prices, which have been rising steadily and reached $1,742,741 in January, up $285,000 from a year earlier.
Townhouse sales reached 30 in January, up 108% from January 2020 and higher than the 25 transactions in December 2020. With 41 new listings added, the January sales-to-new-listing ratio was 73%, compared to 54% during 2020. Townhouses in Burnaby South sold in January for an average of $1,007,309, up about $54,000 from the end of last year.
Condominium apartment sales continued the strong pace seen over the past seven months, with 87 transactions in January, representing 58% of the 150 new listing added in the month. The supply of condos is estimated at four months, if the current sales pace continues. The average condo price, at $625,937, is up from $595,215 in January 2020.
New Westminster: Detached house sales in New Westminster saw a three-fold increase in January compared to the same month last year, to 21 transactions, representing a startling sales-to-new listing ratio of 84%. The average house price
remained fairly constant in one of the more affordable housing markets in Greater Vancouver. The average house sold in January for $1,285,528, a 4.3% increase, year-over-year.
Townhouse buyers closed on 14 units in January, compared to four in the same month last year, but sales were below the 25-unit average pace over the final six months of 2020. With 28 new listings in January, the sales-to-new-listing was 50%, with the average price virtually unchanged from December 2020 at $727,435.
New Westminster’s year-over-year condo apartment market sales were higher in January, but, at 66 transaction, well below December’s 103 sales. An increase in new listings, to 159 units, kept the sales ratio at 43%, similar to the first month of 2020. The average condo price in January was $543,870, up 9% from December but down about $20,000 from January 2020.
Coquitlam: More Coquitlam detached houses sold in January 2021 -76- than in Burnaby and New Westminster combined, an indication of Coquitlam’s growing popularity. The average Coquitlam detached house sold in January for $1,566,814, up 20% year-over-year, while 67% of the new listings sold.
The townhouse sector saw January sales drop nearly 50% from December, to 38 transactions, but the average price was up 12% year-over-year to $864,957.
Condo apartment sales in January, at 106 units, tracked close to the record monthly pace seen in 2020. With 149 condo listings added in January, the sales ratio was 71%, with average prices up $52,000 year-over-year at $574,407.
Port Moody: Since the extension of SkyTrain to the waterfront community, detached house prices have increased sharply. In January 2021, the average Port Moody house price hit a near-record of $1,611,733. This is up 18% from January 2019 and a startling $419,000 increase from January 2020. There were just 20 new listings for detached houses in January 2021, along with 9 sales. Multiple bids are being seen.
Port Moody has a small townhouse market, certainly not enough to meet demand. Through the last quarter of 2020, the sales-to-new-listing ratio was running at 100%. This dipped to 60% in January, with 9 sales from 15 new listings, but the average price climbed to $827,533, up from $769,900 a year earlier.
The condo inventory is mostly composed of new units built since the arrival of SkyTrain in 2016. There is fairly healthy selection, but units sell quickly. In January, with 28 transactions, the sales ratio to new listings was 76%, the second-highest level in a year. The average Port Moody condo price, based on 28 January sales, is now $608,357, highest in the Tri-Cities market.
Port Coquitlam: In January, the city made it easier to build laneway houses on detached-house lot by removing the need for public hearings, which is expected to fuel already hot detached-house sales. Port Coquitlam detached house sales reached 33 units in January, 2021, up from 29 in the month previous and 22 in January 2020. The average house price soared year-over-year from $875,000 to $1,211,787 in January 2021.
Townhouse prices, at an average of $693,241 in January, are the lowest in the Tri-City region and have remained fairly stable, rising 4.5% year-over-year. January sales, at 18, represented 64% of the new townhouse listings in the month.
Condo buyers experienced a rarity in January, as the average price of $438,247 was down from a year ago and lower than in December 2020. With just a two-month condo supply available and 49% of new listings selling in January, upward pressure on condo prices could be seen this year.
Ladner: In January, Delta eased the regulations for secondary suites in houses, eliminating the minimum 49-foot lot width and easing parking restrictions. The change will allow more house owners to include a ‘mortgage helper’ rental suite and may increase buyer demand for Ladner houses. In January, 15 detached houses sold in Ladner, representing 63% of the new listings, at an average price of $1,249,066. House sales and prices have remained fairly constant over the past year.
Ladner has seen an increase in townhouse construction over the past year, but the inventory of resale units remains tight. There were only six active listings in January, and just 1 unit sold, for $820,000.
January saw only 3 condo sales at an average price of $645,666, but buyers should know there has been a recent surge in new listings, rising to 21 units in January, the highest level since January 2020.
Tsawwassen: Detached house sales have been accelerating for some time but shifted to a higher gear in recent months. The result has been a reduction in detached-house supply to three months, and average prices rising about $90,000 in the past year. In January 30 houses sold, up from 9 in the same month last year. The average house price hit $1,363,083, up from $1,276,736 in January 2020. There were 85 total house listings on the market this January, the lowest level in more than two years.
Tsawwassen is a smallish community, and townhouse sales reflect that, with just 20 total listings and 9 sales in January. The average townhouse price is now $779,300, down slightly from January of last year.
There were 15 condo sales in January and the sales-to-new-listing ratio was 63%, signalling a seller’s market. Average condo prices, at $628,406, are up from $587,877 a year ago, mirroring price increases in much larger municipalities.
Pitt Meadows: The benchmark price of a detached house has inched above $1 million, at $1,013,200 in January 2021, a 15.4% increase year-over-year and tied with Port Coquitlam for the highest annual detached house price increase in Greater Vancouver.
Townhouse prices in Pitt Meadows in January were up 3.9% year-over-year to $622,100.
The benchmark condo apartment price increased to $603,200 in January 2021, up 6.3% from January 2020.
Posted the lowest benchmark in Greater Vancouver in January, at $930,900, a price up 15% year-over-year and nearly 3% higher than in December 2020. Detached sales in the region (including neighbouring Pitt Meadows) were up 41% year-over-year to 95 transactions.
The benchmark townhouse price in Maple Ridge is $561,800, up 7.6% from this time last year and townhouse sales increased a stunning 83% to 68 units in the region. There were 79 new listings for townhouses in the regional market as of January.
Condominium apartment prices increased 9.1% from a year earlier in January 2021 to $373,500, the lowest benchmark condo price in Greater Vancouver, which may explain why the sales-to-new-listing ratio was an impressive 79% in January.