Highlights of Dexter’s October 2023 Report
Economists now predict interest rates will fall by 2.5%
Median home prices are down this year in virtually every Metro market
Priciest detached markets lead the sales curve in Metro Vancouver
Province mandates 2-4 housing units on every detached house lot
Buyer’s market conditions now dominate suburban housing markets
Sometimes you just wonder about the short memories of Metro Vancouver home buyers and sellers. How many times have people been moaning about a tick-up in mortgage rates, about a perceived lack of homes, about too many investors and the lack of affordability. About world events hurtling us to a recession.
Plenty, so it sounds as familiar today as it did in say 2000, or in the misty past of four weeks ago when headlines and pundits were all about a housing shortage, soaring interest rates and rising home prices.
Yet, if one looks at the Metro Vancouver market this October of 2023, it is the most welcoming environment in years for both buyers and sellers. But many appear blinded by the brilliance of what is in plain sight. Is it time for a reality check?
Housing shortage? The Canadian Press headline this week is “Housing supply outpacing demand in Vancouver market.” This is because there are now 11,599 homes for sale in Greater Vancouver, up 12.6% from a year ago and above the 10-year average. The Fraser Valley has another 6,580 active listings, 17% higher than in October 2022. That is a total of more than 18,000 residential properties for sale, yet total October sales in the entire region were less than 3,000. Message: there is a terrific selection of homes for sale right across the Lower Mainland.
Soaring interest rates? The Bank of Canada did not increase interest rates at the October setting and now there is growing belief that rates will be coming down, perhaps as early in Q2 2024. Economists, including those at Desjardins. “We’re not going back to zero. But I could see rates falling to about 2.5% in terms of the Bank of Canada’s policy rate,” Desjardins told Bloomberg News. Among the reasons is that many people who took out mortgages during the 2020-21 boom will renewing next year and the Bank of Canada is feeling the pressure.
Rising home prices? The median price of a detached house over the first 10 months of this year is down in nearly every market except Vancouver, West Vancouver and Surrey. The median – when half the prices are above and half below the line – provides a clear trendline. For clarity the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver uses median prices to show year-over-year and month-over-month trends in its internal sales and listing reports. This shows that, since October 2022, detached house prices are down $126,500 in both Burnaby and South Delta; down $168,000 in Port Moody, $50,000 lower in Richmond and down $100,000 in North Vancouver.
For buyers this is great time to be shopping for a home, with lower prices, a huge selection and stable and soon to be falling mortgage rates. Buyers are very price sensitive and there is a feeling of being able to negotiate and having the upper hand on sellers. While some areas may appear to be in a seller’s market, buyers don’t believe it and are trying to get the deals they have long been hoping for. This will continue into 2024 until the first interest rate declines start. Buyers, your time is now.
Sellers, especially those in top-tier markets of Vancouver and West Vancouver, or with prime listings anywhere, are attracting traffic and there have been some multiple offers. In many markets, including North Vancouver, Burnaby South, Port Moody, New Westminster and Ladner, the sales-to-new-listing ratio is higher than 50% and competing bids are not unheard of in the current market.
There is also a wild card in the housing mix now. The B.C. Housing Ministry has confirmed that every detached housing lot in the province (except Vancouver, which has a similar density plan) will now be allowed to add three to four new housing units. But it is up to the discretion of the host municipality whether these new units are rentals or strata units, or a combination of both. (Most members of the Union of B.C. Municipalities appear to be leaning towards rentals.) Investors should ascertain what type of housing will be allowed under the local upzoning, but the new rules will certainly increase the demand for single-detached properties and land assemblies right across the province.
One thing is likely certain: five, 10 or even one year from now, many will be looking back to the autumn of 2023 and saying, ”I should have bought then.”
Regional Reports for Metro Vancouver October 2023
Greater Vancouver: Total residential sales just missed the 2,000 mark, reaching 1,996 in October, which was up 4% from a month earlier and also up 4% from October of 2022. We are seeing a balanced market with total listings of 11,599, up from 10,305 a year ago. The sales-to-new-listing ratio is running at 42%, down from 47% in October 2022 but reflective of a solid market. By property type, the sales ratio to total active listings is 12.9 per cent for detached houses, 20.9 per cent for attached, and 21.5 per cent for apartments. The benchmark price for all residential properties is currently $1,196,500, a 4.4% increase over October 2022 and a 0.6% decrease compared to September 2023. The benchmark price for a detached home is $2,001,400.This is a 5.8% increase from October 2022 and a 0.8% decrease compared to September 2023. The benchmark price of an apartment home is $770,200, up 6.4% from October 2022. The townhouse benchmark price is $1,100,500, up 6% from last October. All strata prices were up 0.2% compared to September 2023.
Vancouver Westside: It is the higher end of the housing ladder that is holding firm on the Westside. Despite a median price of $3.36 million more detached houses – 71 – sold in October than in a month or a year earlier and were the second highest of any Greater Vancouver market. The sales-to-listing ratio for detached houses, at 45% was the highest for any sector on the Westside. At the same time, when the most expensive new condo tower – Curv - began pre-selling in the West End, 100 condos sold despite starting prices at more than $2,000 per square foot. Even with total condo sales down from September, October condo transactions averaged 8 per day at a median price of $844,800. Two-bedroom condos are the tougher sale in this current market. This is flagged as a buyer’s market due to a higher supply, but with a 35% sales ratio despite an increase in active listings to 2,629 properties.
Vancouver East Side: Townhouse and duplex sales almost doubled in October compared to September, with the benchmark townhouse price up 10% year-over-year to $1,118,500. Detached house sales, at 78, were the highest in Greater Vancouver with a median price of $2,045,000. Total units sold in October were 231 up 20% from both September 2023 and October 2022. The supply of total residential listings is down to 5-month’s supply and the sales-to -listings ratio of 41% compares to 31% in September 2023 and 44% in October 2022. This is technically a balanced market, but it feels like a seller’s advantage at times.
North Vancouver: With total transactions of 194, October marked the highest monthly sales since June 2023 and slightly higher (up 0.5%) from October 2022. Condos led the sales pace, with 98 transactions at median of $826,500, while 59 detached house sold at a median of $2,050,000 – a price $50,000 lower than a year ago. Active listings were at 621 at month end compared to 614 at that time last year and 627 at the end of September, but new listings in October were down 22% compared to September. This is a seller’s market with total residential listings down to a 3 month’s supply and sales to listings ratio of 52% compared to 35% in September 2023.
West Vancouver: Evan at a median price of $3,650,000, detached house sales led the West Vancouver market, with 27 sales, tied with the same month a year earlier, though condos posted the strongest uptake, with 60% of the new listings selling at a median of $1,320,000, by far the highest price of any B.C. market. Total active listings were 609 at month end compared to 589 at that time last year and 626 at the end of September , though new listings in October were down 33% compared to September 2023. This is a buyer’s market, despite the premium prices, with an 11-month supply of listings and a sales ratio of 32%, highest for an October in two years.
Richmond: This is a buyer’s market due to the healthy six-month supply of 1,268 active listings, but sellers are still attracting buyers, as total monthly transactions are steady at 217, the benchmark price 5.6% higher than in October 2022 and the sales-to-listing ratio is running at 45%, up from 43% in September 2023. A glitch is in the condo market, especially in new projects, where an October sales downturn is related both to higher lending rates and new provincial legislation banning many short-term rentals. Still, benchmark condo prices remain 10% higher than a year ago, at $736,400. Benchmark detached house prices, at $2,155,600, have not budged in six months.
Burnaby East: This is the only balanced market in Burnaby, with 21 total sales in October and active listings at 105 at month end, resulting in a 5-month supply of listings and new listings selling at ratio of 45%. Benchmark prices are also balanced, with the composite up 1% from September 2023 at $1,192,600, the highest in Burnaby.
Burnaby North: A seller’s market in October saw total sales jump 21% from a month earlier to 137 transactions as new listings dropped 4% and the sales-to-listing ratio firmed at 47%, nearly equal to October 2023. With a total 4-month supply of active listings and benchmark prices up across all sectors, sellers are excited. Higher demand is expected for detached houses as the provincial zoning for two to four new housing units on detached lots rolls out. The Burnaby mayor fears speculation will drive house prices – already up 7.2% from a year ago in North Burnaby to $2,070,000 – even higher.
Burnaby South: With the highest benchmark detached house prices in Burnaby, at $2,199,700 in October, and total sales at 120, nearly even with a year ago, this is a seller’s market. There were just 515 active listings at months end and new listings were down 19% from September. With a just a 4-month supply and the sales ratio at healthy 53%, this is could be the hottest Burnaby market this autumn.
New Westminster: Detached house buyers are apparently discovering that New Westminster prices, now benchmarked at $1,550,700, are about $200K to $500K lower than in neighbouring Burnaby or Coquitlam and just 3.2% higher than a year ago. The higher detached sales in October– at 16 nearly double that in October 2022 – could also reflect investors looking to assemble lots because the Royal City is keen on the new provincial higher-density regulations. Note that the townhouse benchmark price is $963,700, so adding 2 strata units to a detached lot should prove profitable. All in all, this is a seller’s market with a tight 4-month supply of total listings and a sales-to-listing ratio at 53%.
Coquitlam: Total sales in October were down 2%, to 170 transactions, from September 2023 and new listings dipped 8% month-over-month in an active but balanced Coquitlam market. Prices are firm, with detached benchmarks virtually unchanged in three months at $1,796,500. It is ditto for townhouses, at $1,062,000; and condo apartments, where the $723,300 benchmark was up just 1% from six months ago. Total residential listings are up to 5 month’s supply and the sales-to-listings ratio of 41% compares to 38% in September 2023 and 58% in October 2022.
Port Moody: With the highest home benchmark price in the TriCities, at $1,139,900 in October, this is a seller’s market with a strong overall sales-to-listing ratio of 60% and just a 3-month supply of listings. Total sales in October, at 51, were up 16% from September 2023 and 16% higher than a year earlier. Supply of new homes will begin to increase in 2024 as two large single-family and multi-family projects start to take shape.
Port Coquitlam: While total transactions dipped down 17% from September to 54 sales in October, this small city remains a seller’s market, with a total sales-to-listing ratio of 47% . With a benchmark price of $954,500 and condo apartments at $631,000, these are the lowest in the TriCities, which keeps Port Coquitlam popular with buyers, who now have more than 200 active listings to choose from.
Pitt Meadows: With a benchmark home price of $925,800, Pitt Meadows has been an affordable market that has attracted a lot of development in the past three years. However, this will be a challenge soon as the city plans to boost community amenity contributions (CACs) for new housing, as most larger centres already have. The proposed increases, to be decided Nov. 7, 2023, are: single-family houses, from $4,500 to $5,200; Townhouses up $600 to $4,600; and condo apartments up $500 to $3,500 per unit. The CACs are on top of development cost charges from the city and Metro Vancouver. This is a seller’s market, with just 91 active listings and a sales ratio of 44% in both October and September. There were only 6 condo listings and 20 townhouses listings as of the end of October.
Maple Ridge: Total sales in October were 110 up from 108 in September 2023 and up from 99 in October 2022. This is now a buyer’s market with a steady 7-month supply of total listings, 747, at month’s end and a sales ratio of 33%. The detached house price index has tracked down 2.1% over the past three months to $1,280,100 and townhouse benchmarks are unchanged since August at $771,300, with condo prices dipping to $531,600, the lowest in Greater Vancouver.
Ladner: Talk about a balanced market: Ladner’s 24 total sales in October were the same as in October 2022 and the sales-to-listing ratio was 50%. Active listings were at 119 at month end compared to 117 at the end of September. The composite benchmark home price is $1,116,200, nearly unchanged (down 1.8%) from three months ago. We have long wondered how Ladner has missed the boat on developing its downtown waterfront, which could be a terrific residential and retail opportunity.
Tsawwassen: Western Investor, a popular real estate publication, has named South Delta, primarily Tsawwassen, as one of the top 5 towns for real estate investing in 2024, citing the go-ahead for the giant Roberts Bank port and the new Massey Tunnel project. However, October sales, at just 27, were down 36% from a month earlier and 4% lower than a year ago, so the hype may be premature. This is a buyer’s market right now, with a 7-month supply of listings (188), a sale-to-listing ratio of 36% and the benchmark home price unchanged from a year ago at $1,128,900. It could be the time to get in early.
Surrey: The average detached house price in Surrey increased 9.5% year-over-year to $1,690,000 in October and shot up 9.8% to just over $2 million in South Surrey-White Rock, and total detached sales increased 12.4% from October 2022 to 145 transactions. Detached sales in the city are outperforming the strata sector, as the lower-priced products are more sensitive to interest rates. “What we’re seeing in the Fraser Valley and indeed across the province is the impact of sustained high interest rates,” said Narinder Bains, chair of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. “We anticipate the trend will continue until we start to see some downward movement in the [Bank of Canada] rate.”
Kevin Skipworth, Partner/Broker and Chief Economist at Dexter Realty