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Markets and micro-markets, for sellers and buyers

Blog by Robert Matthews | May 2nd, 2019

What a difference a year makes. Buying and selling Metro Vancouver homes this spring may seem like a 180 degree change from this time last year. You’ve no doubt heard or read about how much "the market” is “off” – both in terms of sales volumes and, to a lesser extent, prices. Long-time readers will recognize some of the discussion below; however, given the media reports we're subjected to on a daily basis it may be worth a few moments of your time to consider.

Don't believe everything you hear or read. I heard a market "expert" on a radio program the other day say that West Vancouver currently has 34 years worth of housing inventory. In other words, at the current sales volume it would take 34 years for every home currently listed to sell. It only takes a few moments to look at the numbers and determine that West Van has closer to 26 months of inventory, not 34 years! (728 properties currently listed divided by the number of WV sales in the past four weeks.) Not the 2-4 months of inventory we like to have, but wildly inaccurate. I'm sure most homeowners in West Van were more than despondent at hearing that original number.

It's worth noting, again, that "the market” is a broad brush that covers everything from a 10,000 sq ft. new build in West Van to a 40-year-old 1-bdrm condo in New Westminster to a bungalow in South Vancouver, and everything in between. Market generalizations make good click bait, but they’re not particularly helpful for home sellers or buyers. Even references to, say, “North Vancouver detached homes” or “west side condos” are of limited use.

As always, keep in mind that "the market" consists of many "micro-markets". It takes much more drilling down to get to today's actual value for your current or future property. A true “market” might be just houses on your block, or renovated or suited homes in your neighbourhood, or single-level ranchers (and yes, those small houses do still exist!). Or it could just be two-bdrm condos between 800-950 sq ft, under $1M within a two block area, 10-20 years old, renovated and on the quiet side; and often it comes down to the exact floorplan in the exact building! There are almost as many “markets” as there are homes. Suffice to say, your individual home value and market enthusiasm story will vary greatly. We need to drill down many layers for your relevant numbers, at the exact time you're ready to sell or buy.

Yes, we may find that in many micro-markets homes are selling at a slower pace, and often at prices less than previous years. But people still do need to – and want to – buy and sell. If you're looking to buy, this may be your time! You'll find more choice, less pressure and, in many cases, increased bargaining power.

Thinking of selling? While the halcyon days for sellers may be on hiatus for a while, you can certainly make a prudent move. You may receive less for your home sale than a year ago – and, as usual, I'll be pulling out all stops to maximize your bottom line – but the home you subsequently buy will likely be at a lower price point as well. This is the most common scenario with my clients. Absolute values may not matter much in such a scenario, as the relative spread between the two properties remains more or less similar.

Thinking of selling or buying in 2019? Contact me any time to discuss the right strategies for your situation. With 18 years experience and more than 600 homes sold in all market conditions, I can help you successfully navigate our changing real estate landscape.