Highlights of the April Market Report
We are now in a seller’s market across Greater Vancouver
Multiple offers are being seen as buyers roar back
Buyers must brace for higher new home prices in ‘24
Greater Vancouver sales are up 166% since the start of the year
Fraser Valley detached house prices are up $60,000 since January
As much of Canada suffers under a belief that the housing market has tanked, Metro Vancouver homebuyers are quietly and efficiently setting month-over-month sale increases this year and are already being rewarded by rising prices.
Consider this a wake-up call.
Total April housing sales across Greater Vancouver hit 2,741 transactions, up from 2,535 in March and a 166% increase from January 2023 and the highest monthly level since May 2022. Benchmark home prices so far this year are up 5%. Based on the current benchmark, that is an increase of nearly $60,000, and prices are still rising by 2.4% a month.
In the Fraser Valley, April sales totalled 1,554 homes, even with a month earlier and up 148% from January of this year. The benchmark detached house price is up $100,000 compared to January and the typical condo sold in April at $503,700, up $30,000 from the start of the year.
This was not foreseen by most; and in April, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the federal housing agency, told us that the Metro Vancouver average home price could fall as much as 24 percent this year and it didn’t see a sales recovery until 2024-25.
On the street, the reality is much different. With the Bank of Canada halting rate increases, buyers are more confident and are back in a big way. The April competition for new listings was astounding: over 20 offers for a detached house in Ladner; 10 to 20 offers for condos throughout the region, including downtown Vancouver among the many anecdotal reports from the field. With a consistent shortage, any townhouse listing attracted multiple buyers, and the sales-to-listing ratio hit a jaw-dropping 185% in April for Port Moody townhouses.
The real estate market has turned quickly and is fast approaching 3,000 sales a month. If this happens in May, as we suspect, it would be the first time since April last year that Greater Vancouver has achieved that number.
Another signal of the turnaround is new housing starts, which have roared back and may help to alleviate the continued lack of new resale listings. In the first quarter of 2023, 7,318 new homes started in Metro Vancouver, up 69% from the same period last year. The current residential construction pace, if maintained, would result in more than 29,000 starts this year in Metro Vancouver, the highest level in three years. But this will take time to have any effect on the market and will require many more starts.
A big test of the new condo market is now being conducted on the Burnaby-Coquitlam border this month where a brand-new condo tower complex is finished and offered for sale. Normally, new condos are sold as pre-sales, but these 262 apartments at the City of Lougheed are move-in ready. This is a bold and rare test of the condo market and should give a strong indication of current demand. We would not be surprised by a quick sell-out.
However, we are less certain that buyers will be flocking to purchase new homes in 2024 because of startling government-imposed cost increases. Costs keep getting added to the equation and for some developments, it may not be feasible to move from the planning to the building stage.
Here are some of the recent increases homebuilders are now dealing with:
On April 19, the Metro Vancouver Regional District board of directors approved a motion to make real estate developers pay 99% of the cost for water and sewage upgrades across the district. Currently, developers pay 83% for sewage upgrades and 50% for water infrastructure, so this is a big increase, especially since three large water-treatment projects are currently underway, totalling well over $10 billion.
Led by a 47% increase in Richmond and a 33% hike in Coquitlam, suburban municipalities across the region are raising development cost charges on new residential construction going into next year.
On May 1, the B.C. Step Code building code for new residential construction was legislated across the province. This ‘green’ building code, the most rigid in Canada, will outlaw natural gas in new buildings and add thousand, even tens of thousands of dollars, to the cost of new homes, especially detached houses, and high-rise concrete condos.
Changes to B.C.’s contaminated land regulations, just coming in, will add an extra $80,000 to $100,000 in testing alone, and delays to a new strata project before construction even starts
Residential land prices – and the cost per buildable foot – are soaring right across the Lower Mainland. Recently, residential sites in North Burnaby and Surrey Central sold for more than $25 million per acre; a 1.3-acre land assembly in Coquitlam sold in March for $24.5 million; and Vancouver is seeing residential development land trading at $90 million per acre or more.
Best advice: buy an existing home this year, and the sooner the better. Existing homes can’t be replaced for nearly the same price, and resale values are increasing month-over-month.
A look at the regional numbers:
Greater Vancouver: Total housing sales in April were 2,741, up 8% from a month earlier and 166% higher than in January of this year and off just 16% from April 2022. By next month, the script will shift as sales begin to be higher compared to a year ago. For true market comparison, April sales this year were 48% higher than in April 2019 before the pandemic hit and everything went crazy. However, listings are the laggard, down 1% this April from a month earlier; and total active listings, at 8,734, represent just a 3-month supply at the current sales pace. The inventory shortfall is leading to multiple offers and rising prices, with April’s benchmark price up 2.4% from a month earlier; detached house prices and condo prices are 3% higher at $1,915,800 and $752,300, respectively. With 500 sales in April, and a high sales-to-listing ratio, townhouse prices were up 2.1% from March to $1,078,400. Greater Vancouver is now a sellers' market in all property types, with an overall sales-to-listing ratio of 62%.
Fraser Valley: The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board posted 1,554 sales in April, virtually unchanged compared to March 2023 and up 5.1% from April 2022. Listings were down 31% from April 2022 however, to 2,478. There are now 4,632 active listings, down 2.2% from March 2023 and 14% below April of last year. Prices are rising as buyers bid on fewer listings. Detached-house prices, at $1,442,900, were up nearly 4% from March 2023; townhomes increased 1.7% month-over-month to $808,000; and the benchmark condo price was up 1.6% in the same period to $530,200. Strata prices are down from 9% to 13% from a year ago, with detached prices off 17% from April 2022.
Vancouver Westside: The Westside saw condos in a seller’s market in April, while townhouses jumped up to 7 month’s supply and the detached-house sector is still in balance. But new listings were 9% lower overall in April compared to March, so buyers are purchasing what they can. In all, 468 sales were recorded in April, nearly 50% higher than in February and up 4% from March 2023. Prices are rising fast: the benchmark detached house price is now $3,313,200, up 9.7% (about $310,000) since January and up 3% from March. Townhouse prices shot up 6.5%, month-over-month to $1,481,900 and typical apartments sold for $848,000 in April, an increase of 2.5% from March. The supply of total residential listings is steady at a tight 4-months in this seller’s market. April’s sales-to-listings ratio of 56% compared to 49% in March 2023 and 48% in April 2022.
Vancouver East Side: Compared to a year ago, East Side sales and listings were down sharply from a year ago, but sales were also lower than in March 2023, with 267 transactions in April compared to 287 a month earlier. There were 939 active listings as of April 30, up from 899 at the end of March. The total inventory represents a 4-months’ supply as the sales-to-listing ratio is a strong 55% in this seller’s market. The median price of the 75 houses sold in April was $1.95 million, up nearly $150,000 from a month earlier. Condos led the sales parade, with 113 sales at a median of $657,000, up marginally from March, while median townhouse prices increased to $1,405,000, up about $50,000 from April of last year. Over the past three months, the overall benchmark price is 5.4% higher, at $1,312,400.
North Vancouver: April sales continued a trajectory that has seen transactions rise 46% over the past two months to reach 218. Benchmark home prices have followed the lead, rising 7% since January to $1,369,900 in April, with detached house prices up nearly 8% in the same period to $2,192,200. Despite new listings falling 10% from March, total active listings at the end of April were 495, nearly identical to a year earlier. We estimate there is a mere 2-month supply of total listings, with the sales-to-listing ratio running at 66%, up from 58% from both a month and a year earlier. This is a seller’s market that is gaining momentum.
West Vancouver: Metro’s second-most expensive housing market is not known for a high number of sales and April was no exception, with 60 transactions, down 6% from a month earlier, though 43% higher than in February. New listings, though, were 94% higher than a year ago, so the market is stirring. We are calling this a balanced market, but shifting to a buyer’s advantage for those who can afford it. The benchmark price of a detached house, which dominated the market with 43 sales in April, is $3,111,600, up 3% from March, but still 8% lower than a year ago. The overall sales-to-listing ratio is 38% and has held steady in that range for two months.
Richmond: The ban on foreign homebuyers that came into effect on January 1 apparently had zero effect in Richmond, despite some concerns. Sales are following similar patterns to other markets, with 338 transactions in April up 51% from February and well above January. Prices are also firming in Richmond: the benchmark price is $1,179,200, down just 1.7% from a year ago and rising an average of 2% per month since the start of the year. Active listings were at 1,062 at month-end compared to 1,197 at that time last year and 1,049 at the end of March. This is a seller’s market, with the sales-to-listing ratio in April at 67%, which compares to some of the best months of early 2022, and there is just 3-months’ supply of inventory. Housing starts are rising, however, with 507 new homes breaking ground in March, up from just 62 in March 2022 – nearly all the new starts are multi-family units, including 37 new townhouses. So many more townhouses are needed.
Burnaby East: Total sales in April were just 34, but that was up 70% from a month earlier and just 6 units lower than in April of last year. The benchmark price rose 0.4% from March, to $1,114,900, while the detached house price increased 1.3% to $1,749,700, still the lowest in Burnaby. Active listings were 76 at month-end compared to 67 at that time last year and 85 at the end of March. The inventory of total residential listings is down to 2-month supply. This is a seller’s market on steroids, with a sales-to-listings ratio of 81% compared to 43% in March 2023 and 58% in April 2022.
Burnaby North: This is one of the hot markets where total sales in April, at 176, were higher than in April 2022, in this case, up 7 percent year over year and 4% higher than in March 2023, and 31% above February of this year. Condos led this market, and the benchmark condo price has increased 5.5% over the past three months to $734,600. Confidence in the future strata market was underlined in April when a major condo developer paid $94 million for a 4.2-acre development site near the Brentwood and Gilmour SkyTrain station. There was a total of 415 residential properties for sale at the end of April, slightly higher than a year earlier and up from 388 in March. The benchmark home price is up 5% since January, at $1,002,900.
With a sales success ratio of 67%, compared to 71% in March 2023 and 47% in April 2022, this is a strong seller’s market.
Burnaby South: Sales here were also up from a year ago, rising 16% to 215 this April, which was also 65% higher than in March 2023. At $1,100,200, the benchmark price in April was up 2.3% from a month earlier. The benchmark detached house price has surged nearly 8% higher since January, to $2,145,800. In an unabashed sellers’ market, the sales-to-listing ratio is a sizzling 81% and the total inventory, at 385, represents just a 2-month supply.
New Westminster: Total April sales were 113, up from 96 (18%) in March 2023 but down from 134 (16%) in April 2022. We see the Royal City as a good buy this year. The benchmark detached house price in April was $1,433,100, up just 0.2% from a month earlier and down 4.3% from a year earlier. But this house price is about $300,000 less than Coquitlam or East Burnaby. New West condo prices, at $652,100, are also among the lowest in the suburbs. We have a feeling New Westminster has price growth potential. Total active listings are 238, down from last April but up 15% from March 2023. With a sales-to-listing ratio of 70%, this is a seller’s market, but buyers may find the prices tempting.
Coquitlam: Many will be watching a rare event when two new condo towers, finished, launch more than 200 units into the market in May. The towers are technically in Burnaby but right on the Coquitlam border at Lougheed Town Centre. In April, 99 Coquitlam condo apartments sold at a median price of $685,000 and there were just 149 new listings, generating a healthy 67% sales-to-listing ratio. Total active listings of all properties were at 495 at the end of April, compared to 572 at that time last year and 473 at the end of March.
This is a seller’s market that appears to be accelerating.
Port Moody: The entire Tri-Cities region has seen only 74 housing starts so far this year, so we must look to resale listings for future supply, and that means a tight inventory due to high demand in Port Moody. Port Moody might be the hottest market in Greater Vancouver, with a 91% absorption rate overall, sitting with 2-month supply. Townhouses saw a jaw-dropping 185% absorption rate, meaning almost two sales for every new listing. Condo sales were up 73% year-over-year in Port Moody as condo prices dipped to a median of $685,000, down from a median of $712,500 a year earlier. Total sales in April were 91, up 14% in March and 94% higher than in February in this active seller’s market.
Port Coquitlam: With 76 sales in April, transactions were up 10% from a month earlier, but new listings dropped 39% month-over-month while the composite home price inched up 1.2% to $927,100, the lowest in the Tri-Cities. Detached house prices are now 13.3% below April of last year but are rising by around 2.2% per month. With only a 2-month supply of listings and a sales-to-listing ratio at 97%, compared to 54% a month earlier, this is a clear seller’s market.
Ladner: There is only 1 month's supply of townhouses and condos, with only 7 condo new listings in April compared to 19 in March in Ladner. The overall sales-to-listing ratio is 74%.
Townhouse benchmark prices dipped 0.7% in April from a month earlier, but remain 7% higher than in January, at $991,700. Condos are selling at $698,000, but prices were down 2% in April from March 2023. With just a 2-month supply of listings and a sales ratio of 74%, we expect prices to increase in this seller’s market.
Tsawwassen: Sunny Tsawwassen has an example of what is known as an intergenerational community, the Southlands development, which took years to win approval but could be a template for future suburban projects. Its mix of housing is designed to attract seniors and young families with an agricultural theme and a lively retail village that includes a beachfront. It is among the reasons Tsawwassen is seeing higher sales now than a year ago and where total home sales have more than doubled since February. The townhouse’s benchmark prices are $901,600, lower than in neighbouring Ladner. Detached-house prices in April were up 7.2% from a month earlier, at $1,473,200, but remain 14% lower than a year ago. Condo apartments, at $724,900, are nearly unchanged from last year. A total of 54 properties were sold and there are only 167 on the market. With a sales-to-listing ratio of 73%, the highest for an April in years, this is a sellers’ market with very low inventory.
Pitt Meadows: Total sales have been declining for more than a year and April was no exception with just 27 transactions, down 4% from a month earlier and 40% lower than in April 2022. Detached house prices remain 17% lower than a year ago but have rallied so far this year, up 7% to an April benchmark of $1,220,900. New listings in April were up 26% compared to March 2023, bringing the overall supply to about 3 months. With a sales-to-listings ratio of 50%, compared to 65% in March 2023, this is a weak seller’s market that could be balanced.
Maple Ridge: Young families looking for a townhouse are often drawn to Maple Ridge, where there is a fairly good selection and benchmark prices are down 15% from April 2022, to $747,200. This is about $200,000 below the Lower Mainland benchmark. Townhouse prices are inching up, though, increasing about 6% so far this year. Total property sales in April reached 161 in April, 8% higher than in March and just 3% below April 2022. This seller’s market is firming, with new listings in April down 7% from a month earlier, a sales-to-new-listing ratio of 62% and just 506 homes on the market.
Surrey: The Fraser Valley’s largest market saw just 255 detached sales, 216 townhouse transactions and 227 condo sales in April, with detached and condo sales up 4% from March and townhouse sales down 3%. Detached house prices were up 3.8% month over month, but down 16% from a year earlier, at $1,579,100. The lowest strata benchmark prices are in North Surrey, with townhouses at $749,700 and condo apartments at $497,800.
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Kevin Skipworth, Partner/Broker and Chief Economist at Dexter Realty