Gimme Shelter: Real estate reality check

June 24, 2019 10:21 pm

As sales stall, Metro Vancouver caught between a buyer’s and seller’s market

WATCH: Taking the temperature of Metro Vancouver's real estate market

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This is the first of a five-part series on the state of real estate in Metro Vancouver. 

Back in 2016, Vancouver’s white-hot real estate market looked as if it would never cool down.

Three years later, industry experts say times have changed.

“Prices now are back to where they were around, say, mid-2015,” Brendon Ogmundson of the B.C. Real Estate Association said.

WATCH: (May 28, 2019) Housing sales projected to decline for two years

A once boiling hot market appears to be lukewarm at best. Listings that would have once fuelled fierce bidding wars can be left lingering for months.

In some cases, asking prices have dropped dramatically below assessed values in a bid to attract buyers.

A home in Vancouver’s Southlands neighbourhood had a listing price of $5.29 million last year and is now available for $3.6 million. Another home on Vancouver’s west side was listed at $4.5 million and now lists for $3.9 million.

READ MORE: This West Vancouver mansion just sold for less than half its asking price. It’s not the only one

“Now you’re looking at $2.5-$3 million, $4-million homes that are left to a more local market,” realtor Steve Saretsky said.

It’s a similar story in other parts of Metro Vancouver. Detached properties in the Tri-Cities have sold at a loss, going for well below assessed, with attached units and townhomes following suit.

WATCH: (Aired April 3, 2019) Metro Vancouver housing sales fall to 33 year low

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“It makes for huge uncertainty over what real estate is worth,” Tom Davidoff, an assistant professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, said.

Those plunging prices are paired with a tangible drop in buyers.

May 2019 saw more than 2,600 home sales, making it the first month this year to top 2,000 sales. Still, sales in May were down nearly seven per cent from the same time last year.

“We’ve had such a strong real estate market here over the past decade. So, it was bound to slow down,” said Ashley Smith of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

And it’s slowed to a snail’s pace in Greater Vancouver. Sales dropped 32 per cent from 2017 to 2018 to a nearly two-decade low over a 12-month period.

READ MORE: CKNW to host special show dedicated to B.C.’s housing crisis

In the Fraser Valley, 2018 numbers show that sales in townhomes were down 26 per cent, condos sales declined 30 per cent, and sales of detached homes plunged 34 per cent.

Sales are only sliding further this year, according to Saretsky, and inventory continues to accumulate as buyers and sellers sit on the sidelines.

“We’re five months in, it’s pretty much at 30-year lows,” he said. “I think right now the big thing is just trying to get sellers to come to grips with the changing market reality.”

On Friday, 980 CKNW will host a live special dedicated to examining B.C.’s housing crisis on Friday, June 28. The four-hour long show, Gimme Shelter: A CKNW Housing Special will take an in-depth look at the current state of affairs and the proposed strategies intended to assist those struggling the most.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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