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Market update: What can we say about Autumn 2015? A most unusual time

Blog by Robert Matthews | November 2nd, 2015

We're living in a most unusual time, at least when it comes to single-family home sales. Relatively few homes are on the market, with demand far out-stripping supply in many areas, particularly at the relatively lower price points.

The number of homes for sale in most areas is at the lowest point since the mid 2000’s; in fact, some areas have a full 40% fewer homes for sale than this time last year. Actual sales volumes, however, are 30% higher. As a result it seems homes come on the market -- and in a blink of an eye they're sold.

Why such limited supply?

This limited supply -- and inevitable price increases given the continuing demand -- can be traced to a number of factors:
  • Existing home owners are reluctant to sell because they fear missing further increases in value.
  • Home owners also fear being buyers themselves in such a wild market and being unable to find another home that meets their criteria.
  • Many owners of relatively lower-priced small or mid-sized homes are in the prime family stage of their lives, with school-age children. They don’t need or want to move from neighbourhoods they love.
Combine these factors with heavy demand from both local and non-local buyers; perhaps assistance from real estate-rich relatives; buyers' fear of forever missing the opportunity to buy into a particular area; and historically low interest rates; and the result? A fast and, it seems, relentless, increase in home values.

What's next?

I’ve seen a number of recent deals where selling prices have exceeded list prices by 15-20%, and this is on $1M+ properties. In some areas we're starting to see similar demand for near-house properties as well, such as townhouses, half-duplexes and larger condos. I’m afraid it’s a scary time to be a home buyer these days. However, all is not lost. With diligence and perseverance buyers can find their dream homes.

It’s not truly possible to forecast when this upward trend may take a breather. Over the very long term the price trend has been and will likely continue to be up, however no trend continues in an unbroken line ad infinitum. Some sort of variable is inevitably bound to enter the formula at some point; it’s difficult, however, to forecast when this might be. If you're thinking of selling, you may wish to lock in your gains now, when home prices are at historic highs.

A good-news option for some!

Conversely, it’s a relatively good time to be a buyer of a mid-sized condo in most areas. This type of property has generally not seen significant value increases in the past few years. If you can work with a smaller footprint, and love an urban lifestyle (where most condos are located), you have some options. For some, the sale of a long lived-in single-family detached home could fund a chic city condo and an early retirement. I've been seeing this quite often. Some couples are even able to buy a city condo for themselves, and another one (or more) for their children.

Gain the most from your buy or sale

Despite the low supply and increasing prices, almost 3350 homes traded hands throughout Greater Vancouver in September. People continue to buy and sell!

Now more than ever you need to have a sharp Realtor working on your behalf to maximize a sale price and/or put together a purchase deal that results in a successful buy. A poorly handled sale could result in tens of thousands or more $$ left on the table. And if you're on the buy side, you need to work with a seasoned pro that can help you navigate through the often high stress purchase process.

We continue with the fall real estate market! If you plan to make a move, I'm happy to help and ready to go as well. After some 15 years in the business and close to 600 sales you need me on your side! Feel free to contact me at any time.