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Variables at Play

Blog by Robert Matthews | January 24th, 2019

As we move into the new year, we see an unprecedented number of real estate variables at play locally and around the world. Financial, economic, cultural, political. Locally we've got the new mortgage stress test, the speculation tax, the empty homes tax, the foreign buyers' tax, and the effects of strengthened currency and tax controls in China. These variables and others will affect buyers' ability and/or desire to buy – and therefore sellers' ability to sell – here in 2019. 

To add further complexity, these market forces are subject to an endless stream of analyses, opinion, interpretation, sound bites, headlines, and social media carry-on from friends, acquaintances, unknowns, sponsored posts, trouble-makers, and so much more. It's enough to overwhelm! 

To stray off real estate for just a moment, consider turning off your digital feeds once in a while. Try a day here and there with no Facebook, no televised news, no web-based news and opinion sites. You might just come to realize that you can live quite well without 95% or so of the "noise" that, really, won't make a difference in your life. Give it a chance, and you'll probably do just fine!

Do what's right for you

Bringing this back to Metro Vancouver real estate in early 2019, I suggest that you focus on your own personal situation, goals and plans. Wherever the real estate market is going, it will go. If you feel you need to move, or want a larger home – or a smaller home – or a home in another neighbourhood or city, your needs are your needs, regardless of the daily media stream. Sure, your home may have been worth more a few months or a year ago. But chances are its replacement (your new home) will also have decreased in value, perhaps more than the decrease on your sale. You may end up even, or ahead of the game by selling now and buying again. And as I'm reminded of so often, there's no point in stressing about something you can't change.

As mentioned in my December e-news, I'm advising my clients to sell as early as possible this year, before competition heats up later in the spring. And in some cases to negotiate a long completion, to improve their buying position in a possibly declining market. 

Getting into the market

Home values in Greater Vancouver remain some of the highest in the world. If you own here now or are able to purchase here, take a moment to consider your good fortune. If you'd like to buy a first home but are worried about the market dropping further, here's a few things to keep in mind:

  • Despite media reports to the contrary, some sectors of the market have not dropped significantly in value; others, especially at the entry end of the market, continue to maintain their values. 

  • With today's still-low interest rates, a relatively large proportion of your monthly mortgage payment will be applied towards your principal reduction. This is so much better than 100% of your payment going towards your landlord's mortgage! 

  • If you're planning to be in Vancouver for the foreseeable future, or want a permanent foothold here, work on developing a long-term, multi-year perspective rather than succumbing to the anxieties of a short-term viewpoint.

Finally, Metro Vancouver remains one of the world's most desirable places to live. Tens of thousands of people choose to move here each year. Odds are good that this will not change dramatically. No doubt we'll see ups and downs in value, but, longer term, if you plan to live here for the foreseeable future you're likely better off owning a home, rather than renting.

Making the decision to buy for the first time; sell your current home and then buy again; or cash out of the Metro Vancouver market altogether can be fraught with stress. You can endlessly analyze, second-guess and debate. As mentioned above, it's best to focus on your own situation and needs. Now, more than ever, choose your Realtor wisely. Contact me anytime by email or phone/text – 604-328-9006 – to discuss options and possibilities; I'm here to help.

Warm regards, as well as a big "thank you" to all those who helped me achieve REBGV's MLS Medallion Club – Top 10% of all Greater Vancouver Realtors for 2018. Much appreciated!