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Happy New Decade!

“another year over, and a new one just begun… Let’s hope it’s a good one.” John Lennon.

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Happy New Year!

Chris Spötzl

There really is no city quite like Vancouver anywhere in the world and that is what sets it apart...

There really is no city quite like Vancouver anywhere in the world and that is what sets it apart...

Jan 7 10 minutes read

December 2019 Numbers

In the immortal words of John Lennon – “another year over, and a new one just begun… Let’s hope it’s a good one.” For the third straight year, real estate sales in Metro Vancouver suffered through a collection of government policies aimed at achieving affordability and stability in the market, but achieving neither – in fact, making it worse. Demand has been artificially held in check leading to the start of what is typical in a real estate market, a significant increase in people wanting to make a move into or within the real estate market. And with December sales up 87 per cent compared to the same month last year, it became clear that buyers are engaging.

Attached in the two links above are the year-end 2019 Sales and Listings Stats in Greater Vancouver. Overall there were 25,681 home sales in Greater Vancouver in 2019 up 3 per cent compared to 2018, the 4th lowest annual amount of sales since 2000. On the positive side, it was only the 3rd time in 25 years where the number of homes sold in the last 6 months of the year outnumbered sales of the first 6 months, a significant 13 per cent more transactions in the last half of 2019. The previous two times this occurred, it preceded a period of increased activity in the market over the following 3 to 4 years. The number of sales in December at 2,046 was 9 per cent above the 10-year average for the month. There were 53,272 new listings in 2019 in Greater Vancouver, the lowest annual amount since 2003 and 3 per cent lower than the total number of new listings in 2018. The number of new listings in December at 1,666 were 4 per cent below the 10-year average.

Sellers "wait and see" mindset continued on for a second straight year, as evidenced by the lack of listings entering the market but the increase in sales in the latter half of the year shows that buyers are back. Of the total sales in Greater Vancouver, 48 per cent were apartments which was down from 51 per cent in 2018 (down from 50 per cent in 2017, up from 46 per cent in 2016 and 42 per cent in 2015), 18 per cent were townhouses up from 17 per cent in 2018, and 17 per cent in 2017 (up from 15 per cent in 2016 and up from 17 per cent in 2015) and 32 percent were houses which was the same as 2018 and 2017 (down from 36 per cent in 2016 and 41 per cent in 2015). This year did show an increase in activity in the detached housing market though, more so in the last half of the year. This was especially evident in Richmond, after seeing slower sales throughout the year, there was an astounding 196 per cent increase in sales year over year for detached homes in December, and a 121 per cent increase in sales year over year for apartments. The decrease in the share of apartments sold, and increase in townhouses, indicates that buyers are trading up in the market and looking to take advantage of the smaller spread between the cost of attached homes versus detached homes. Part of the decrease in apartment sales could be attributed to the shrinking number of new listings. Month’s Supply of Inventory has dropped into seller’s market conditions for apartments in most areas of Metro Vancouver, with North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Burnaby, and Pitt Meadows having only 2 Month’s Supply, while the majority of other areas are showing 3 Month’s Supply. Affordability is not going to improve with a lack of homes for sale in the lower end of the market.

The Crystal Ball.

Where will the Metro Vancouver real estate market go in 2020? With recently released assessed values down across all classes, there will be an adjustment in sentiment as sellers continue to come off the highs that once were and buyers look to be part of a market that didn’t seem possible two years ago. But, has this helped affordability? With the number of active listings down significantly at the end of the year, opportunity decreased dramatically and where it matters most – the lower end of the market. These entry-level homes are seeing the most activity as the hangover from the mortgage stress test implemented in January 2018 has worn off. We’ve already seen some fierce competition in the past month on apartments in Vancouver with 22 and 15 offers occurring on two specific listings (studio and 1 bedroom), and many others with multiple buyers bidding. Low inventory and increased buyer activity are shifting the dynamics towards seller’s market conditions especially where affordability matters most. This begs the question, what exactly did the provincial government’s policies to ease affordability issues actually do? One thing is for sure, real estate at the high end suffered the greatest decrease in values.  We heard the stories of multi-million dollar properties selling for a fraction of the cost that they were purchased for and it's not uncommon to see homes once worth $5M being bought today in the $3-3.5M range. In comparison, finding a condo that sold for $500,000 at the peak of the market now selling in the low $300,000s is virtually impossible. For local owners, especially empty nesters wanting to downsize, a big chunk of their equity was taken away so they stayed put. Developers have basically been told to stop building – both at a provincial and municipal level - contributing even more to the low supply. Our population is expected to grow by 30,000 people annually in Metro Vancouver and Amazon will be set to open its second biggest office space in Downtown Vancouver employing up to 10,000 workers in the next few years. More than ever, supply and demand will dictate prices going forward, especially at the lower end of the market. And with demand already breaking free from two years of being artificially held back and more and more buyers coming forward by the day, there just isn’t enough supply to keep up. That’s the real issue that needs to be addressed.

Interesting Reads.

City Leasehold Property

Possible Direction of the COV regarding False Creek Leasehold properties

Strata Insurance 

Increase policy costs for strata insurance and the deductibles

Summary of the numbers:


 Greater Vancouver: 

Total Units Sold in December 2019 was 2,046 – down from 2,546 (20%) in November 2019; up from 1,094 (87%) in December 2018 and down from 2,069 (1%) in December 2017. New Listings in December 2019 were up 15% compared to December 2018 and down 15% compared to December 2017. Total Active Listings were at 9,309 at month end, down from 10,907 at the end of December 2018, Month’s Supply of Total Residential Listings is at 5 Months (Balanced Market) compared to 10 Months Supply at the end of 2018 and Sales to Listings Ratio was 123% in December 2019 compared to 75% in December 2018. Year over Year, Benchmark Price is down 3.1% (Detached homes down 4.0% and Apartments down 2.7%).

Vancouver Westside Residential: 

Total Units Sold in December 2019 was 356 – down from 406 (12%) in November 2019; up from 190 (87%) in December 2018 and up from 315 (13%) in December 2017. New Listings in December 2019 were up 18% compared to December 2018 and down 6% compared to December 2017. Total Active Listings were at 1,687 at month end, down from 1,947 at the end of December 2018, Month’s Supply of Total Residential Listings is at 5 Months (Balanced Market) compared to 10 Months Supply at the end of 2018 and Sales to Listings Ratio was 117% in December 2019 compared to 73% in December 2018. Year over Year, Benchmark Price is down 6.7% (Detached homes down 6.7% and Apartments down 3.0%).

Vancouver East Side Residential: 

Total Units Sold in December 2019 was 208 – down from 310 (33%) in November 2019; up from 113 (84%) in December 2018 and down from 239 (13%) in December 2017. New Listings in December 2019 were up 21% compared to December 2018 and down 23% compared to December 2017. Total Active Listings were at 800 at month end, down from 1,075 at the end of December 2018, Month’s Supply of Total Residential Listings is at 4 Months (Balanced Market) compared to 10 Months Supply at the end of 2018 and Sales to Listings Ratio was 129% in December 2019 compared to 85% in December 2018. Year over Year, Benchmark Price is down 1.7% (Detached homes down 3.1% and Apartments down 1.1%).

North Vancouver Residential: 

Total Units Sold in December 2019 was 155 – down from 217 (29%) in November 2019; up from 99 (57%) in December 2018 and up from 138 (12%) in December 2017. New Listings in December 2019 were up 41% compared to December 2018 and down 59% compared to December 2017. Total Active Listings were at 466 at month end, down from 630 at the end of December 2018, Month’s Supply of Total Residential Listings is at 3 Months (Balanced to Seller’s Market) compared to 6 Months Supply at the end of 2018 and Sales to Listings Ratio was 140% in December 2019 compared to 125% in December 2018. Year over Year, Benchmark Price is down 3.0% (Detached homes down 2.1% and Apartments down 3.0%).

West Vancouver Residential: 

Total Units Sold in December 2019 was 46 – down from 66 (30%) in November 2019; up from 30 (53%) in December 2018 and up from 44 (5%) in December 2017. New Listings in December 2019 were down 58% compared to December 2018 and up 5% compared to December 2017. Total Active Listings were at 505 at month end, down from 579 at the end of December 2018, Month’s Supply of Total Residential Listings is at 11 Months (Buyer’s Market) compared to 19 Months Supply at the end of 2018 and Sales to Listings Ratio was 77% in December 2019 compared to 47% in December 2018. Year over Year, Benchmark Price is down 4.8% (Detached homes down 3.2% and Apartments down 10.2%).

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