Brace for an interesting year in the housing market


As the Metro Vancouver housing market comes off a record sales year, we are entering what could be the most interesting 12 months this region has ever seen. The term ‘interesting’ can be seen in relation to the age-old curse of “may you live in interesting times,” but we believe it will also be a blessing because the blinders that have obscured some real estate realities will be ripped away in 2022.

The first expose will be that Canada does not have the supply or the political gumption to provide the housing needed for the biggest surge in immigration this country has ever seen.


The second expose will be that the federal government continues to look at ways to tax homes in Canada as evidenced by a recent CMHC study to add an annual tax on homes valued above $1M, will they slap a capital gains tax on the sale of principal residences next, despite its strenuous denials?

The final reality that every home buyer, seller and renter in Metro Vancouver will face is that the cost of housing here is never going to come down, despite the barriers to demand that every level of government has thrown up over the past 10 years.

It is up to the private market – that is you, me and everyone else who aspires to homeownership – to prepare and prosper in a future characterized by a low supply of housing, greater property taxation and accelerating land and property values.

It won’t be easy, but Metro Vancouver has never been an affordable market. Yet it has remained Canada’s leading residential environment for decades.  There is nowhere better to live in Canada and it certainly has no match when it comes to achieving real estate success.

Let’s look at immigration. According to Statistics Canada, this country absorbed 123,000 immigrants in the third quarter of 2021 alone: the highest level for any quarter since 1946, at the end of World War II. For all of 2021, Canada welcomed 403,000 new residents. To put this in perspective, the United States brought in only 300,000 immigrants for all of last year. Due to immigration, Canada now has the fastest-growing population of all G7 Nations.

If former immigration surges are any indication, up to 30% of newcomers to Canada will immediately or eventually – usually within two years – locate to B.C. and 95% of these will come to Metro Vancouver.
But the supply of housing in Metro Vancouver has fallen to record low levels and, due primarily to local governments, construction of new homes is not keeping pace with the current population, let alone meeting the needs of a hundred thousand newcomers every year.

Considering the lowest we have seen the number of Greater Vancouver active listings go in the last 30 years was 6,200, to hit below 5,000 is truly astonishing. Criticize the supply side discussions all you want but a fundamental flaw in the Metro Vancouver and many other real estate markets that we are experiencing right now is a significant lack of homes. Demand side measures clearly are not the long-term answer. At some point there needs to be real effort to increase supply and allow it to be increased in a meaningful way. And yes, the right kind of supply. We can’t keep wishing for it, there needs to be real work behind any kind of resolution to this issue.

As of December 1, 2021, only 6,000 more homes had started construction in Metro Vancouver than in the same period a year ago in 2020. Townhouse construction increased by just 98 units; and starts of detached houses fell by 300 homes. The only big increase was in apartments, but 30% of the 17,745 units started in 2021 were rentals, not strata homes.

This is despite a federal housing ministry pronouncement back in January 2021 that “We have a rock-steady focus on increasing the supply of housing in Canada.”

Of course, it is local municipalities that really decide how many homes will be built. And that is where the problem lies. Not to belabour the point, here is a snapshot for Metro Vancouver of some recent  development non-decisions.
 
Vancouver: In 2016 the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan was approved, and the late and iconic Vancouver architect Bing Thom presented plans for the anchor development, his last big proposal, The plan now has been scaled back to 438 secured rental units, including 93 units at below-market rates, and 215 strata residential units, all across from the Broadway-Commercial SkyTrain hub. After three presentations and revisions over four years, the proposal has now been sent for future public hearings. “We have not received rezoning approval,” a developer spokesperson said in December 2021. “We have no idea when it will come.”

As of December 1, 2021, the City of Vancouver had seen total starts of less than 5,000 homes for the year, just 1,500 more than a year earlier, and 90% of 2021 starts were apartments. Only 135 new strata townhomes have started in Vancouver in the past two years.
 
North Vancouver District. The development of the Maplewood Town Centre was included in the 2006 official community plan. Five years ago, a plan was submitted by two major developers for 535 homes, including 80 below-market rentals. In December 2021, the entire proposal was voted down by District council.
A proposal to develop 420 housing units, half of them rentals at below market rates, in Lynn Canyon has been submitted three times to District council starting nearly two years ago. As of December 2021, it was referred to another round of public hearings.

As of December 1, 2021, North Vancouver District has posted just 423 housing starts, down from 611 in the same period in 2020. Only 17 townhouses were started in 2021.
 
West Vancouver: Council recently voted down an eight-story condo building with seven strata units. It would have been the first-ever zero emission, mass-timber housing development in the district.
 
Burnaby:  First presented under the official community plan in 1988, the Bainbridge Urban Village Community Plan and the Lochdale Urban Village Community Plan, meant to increase density around the Sperling SkyTrain station and Hastings Street, began consultations in 2020.The Latest update indicates that final plan to council sometime this year, subject to more public hearings.
 

Highlights of the December 2021 housing market report:

 

  • West Side detached housing prices may have
    peaked for now at $3.4 million
     

  • Immigration has hit the highest level since the
    end of World War II
     

  • Richmond is considering “rental only" zoning

 

A summary of the amazing numbers:

 
Greater Vancouver: Total housing sales in December were 2,737 – down from 3,492 (22%) in November 2021, down 23% from October 2021 and down 13% from December 2020, due totally to a lack of listings.
For all of 2021 sales totaled 43,999 homes, a 42.2% increase from the 30,944 sales recorded in 2020, and a 4% increase over the previous all-time sales record set in 2015. Last year’s sales total was 33.4% above the 10-year sales average.

The composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver ended the year at $1,230,200. This was a 17.3% increase compared to December 2020. Both detached home and townhome benchmark prices leaped 22% last year, while condo apartment prices increased 12.8% from year earlier.

The price increases are being fueled by the housing shortage, and the shortage is because of rising prices. The benchmark price of a detached house in Vancouver, Richmond, West Vancouver and Whistler is now more than $2 million. It is over $1.8 million in North Vancouver, Port Moody and most of Burnaby, and has reached $1,756,700, up nearly 30% from a year ago in the Lower Mainland. Sticker-shocked home owners are reluctant to list their home because they don’t know where they can afford to move to. New listings in December were down 51% compared to November 2021 and 20% lower than in December 2020.

Meanwhile, buyers are eager to purchase in a market where the average detached house is increasing in value by $35,000 per month. The result is multiple offers with December’s sales-to-new-listing ratio at a startling 138%, up from 87% in November 2021 and 127% in December 2020. Basically, every new listing sold in December and the total inventory was further whittled down. In some communities, the inventory of homes for sales in now measured in days, not months.

The bottom line: buyers will continue to struggle in 2022. We will see a rush of new listings in January and into the spring, despite COVID conditions. But given the hole we are starting from; it won’t be enough. Immigration has hit record levels. A large supply of housing is absolutely vital to meet the needs of a growing population and our expanding economy.
 
Fraser Valley: Home sales in the Fraser Valley in 2021, with 27,692 transactions, blew past the previous annual record of 23,974 sales set in 2016 and were 39% higher than in 2020. Unlike Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley also saw a rush of new listings, with 35,629 added – the second highest on record and 12.4% more than in 2020, but demand quickly ate up the supply.

In December 2021, 1,808 homes sold second only to December 2020’s record‐setting 2,086 sales. New listings in December were 1,278. By month’s end, however, the active inventory finished at 1,957 units, the lowest in 41 years. The year ended with detached house prices up 39% from a year earlier at a benchmark of $1.5 million; townhouse prices up 32.9% to $765,800; and condo apartment prices 25.3% higher at $549,200.
 
Vancouver Westside: We may be seeing peak prices, at least through the next few months, for detached houses right now on the Westside of Vancouver, with December’s benchmark at $3,433,600. Detached house prices are up 8.2% from a year ago, but have been declining steadily for the past six months. The Westside was the only sub-market where detached house prices were actually lower, down 0.4%, in December than five years earlier.

For those who see the Westside as a bellwether market, this could be a harbinger for detached house prices. Just 79 detached houses sold in December, down from 100 in November 2021 and 84 in December 2020, in part a reaction to a low supply. With only 82 new listings of houses added in the month, December’s sales-to-new listing ratio was 96%. More listings would have boosted sales, but one wonders if price resistance is in play. Total Westside home sales reached 468 in December, down 28% from a month earlier and 4% below December of last year. Total listings in December were down 54% compared to November 2021 and down 6% compared to December 2020. The action is now dominated by condo apartment sales, which reached 344 transactions in December to post a sizzling 128% sales-to-listing ratio, despite benchmark condo prices rising to $842,900. The townhouse inventory is close to vanishing: there were 47 new listings in December and 45 sales; driving the median townhouse price to $1,650,000, up about $340,000 from a year earlier.
 
Vancouver East Side: It takes a few minutes to drive from the heart of the Westside to the centre of Vancouver’s East Side but the short journey was a $1.7 million migrations for a December house buyer. The benchmark house price on the East Side as 2021 ended was $1,770,100, almost exactly half the price of a Westside house. This is perhaps the widest price-to-proximity gap in the Lower Mainland. It helps explain why nearly 1,800 East Side houses sold in 2021, compared to 1,210 on the Westside and why the benchmark East Side detached house price increased 23.9% in the past year while it increased just 8.6% on the Westside. The East Side saw the sales-to-listing ratio for detached houses hit 125% in December, showing the price pressure will likely increase going into 2020. East Side condo apartments may offer the best deal in Greater Vancouver for those seeking some level of affordability. The median East Side condo price in December was $618,500, lower than in Burnaby, the North Shore or Coquitlam and about $200,000 less than on the Westside. East Vancouver, however, is also seeking a housing shortage, with total active listings at year-end of 690 homes, down from 921 in November.

North Vancouver: Despite all the handwringing about rising home prices, BC Assessment data shows that demand is driving prices even higher in prime neighbourhoods. For instance, assessment values for homes on the exclusive Dollarton waterfront and in Grousewoods in North Vancouver were up 30% over the past year, while they increased just 16% in more affordable Norgate and Pemberton. Across all of North Vancouver, the composite home price in December was up 14.2% from a year earlier to $1,273,100, while the typical detached house price was $1,968,000, up 15.6% year-over-year. New Listings in December were down 58% compared to November 2021 and down 26% compared to December 2020.Month’s supply of total residential listings is down to 1 month with the sales-to-listing ratio at a stunning 163%.

West Vancouver: Total housing sales in December were down 23% from a month earlier to 62 transactions, as new listings dropped 67% compared to November 2021, and 25% from December 2020. There is now about a six-month supply – 371 active listings – on the market, but the December sales to listing ratio was running at 124%. The benchmark detached house price is $3,224,500, up 13.1% from December of 2020. The big gain is in Ambleside, where the typical house price rose an average of 34% over last year, according to B.C. Assessment.

Richmond: Richmond is considering ‘rental-only zoning’ of 60 rental properties to discourage the potential development of strata homes. The targeted properties are all rentals, including 17 housing co-operatives. This could discourage development and cause values to fall for land where only rentals are permitted, if developers caution. City staff is recommending the move. This is something for property owners to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, Richmond total housing sales were up 13% year-over-year- in December to 481 transactions, while new listings dropped 9% in the same period. The sales-to-listing ratio is at 140%, which has translated into multiple offers and the composite home price increasing 17.4% from a year ago to $1,132,600. 

Burnaby East: Total housing sales in December were 32 – down 3% from November 2021 and down from 22% compared to December 2020 New listings in December were down 44% compared to November 2021. Month’s supply of total residential listings is still at a 1 month’s supply, with a sales-to-listings ratio of 145% compared to 85% in November 2021 and 216% in December 2020. The composite home price is up 13%, year-over-year, to $1,127,600.
 
Burnaby North: The benchmark detached house price jumped to $1,802,600 in December, up 17.3% from a year earlier, reflecting intense demand in the face of lower inventory across every sector. Total new listings in December were down 45% compared to November 2021 and down 27% compared to December 2020. Month’s supply of total residential listings is down to 1 month as the sales-to-listings ratio rose to 130% compared to 84% in November 2021.
 
Burnaby South: The detached house market edged closer to the $2 million club in December, as benchmark prices edged up 1.9% from a month earlier to $1,868,000, the highest house price in Burnaby. Total housing sales, however, dropped 17% from November to 225 units, likely due to a severe shortage. Active listings were at 257 at month end compared to 574 at that time last year and 358 at the end of November. The total sales-to listings ratio is a blistering 138% compared to 100% in November 2021 and 103% in December 2020.
 
New Westminster: The benchmark detached house price in the Royal City in December was $1,393,800, up 21.5% from a year earlier, but prices are higher in some neighbourhoods, based on recent BC Assessment values. A property in Queensborough has been assessed at $3,009,000 and at least 10 other properties in New Westminster topped $2.5 million, according to assessment values released January 4. Detached house prices will likely increase, because the sales-to-listing ratio hit 183% in December, among the highest in Metro Vancouver, because only 12 new listings hit the market in the month. Total listings of all properties in December were down 53% compared to November 2021 and down 9% compared to December 2020, but the sales-to-listing ratio is 164%. 

Coquitlam: Total housing sales fell 25% in December from a month earlier, to 216, but a lack of inventory drove the composite benchmark home price up 2% in the same period to $1,162,400. Detached house prices were up 25.1% from a year earlier to $1,616,200, while townhouse prices shot up 23% to $904,500. Total new listings for all properties in December were down 52% compared to November 2021 and down 27% compared to December 2020, as the sales-to-listing ratio hit 140%.
 
Port Moody: This market is experiencing some of the highest price increases in Greater Vancouver. The benchmark condo price in December was $767,600, up 16.9% from year earlier and the typical detached house sold for $1,948,800, 24% higher than in December of last year and by far the highest price in the Tri-Cities.

Total sales in December were down 33%, year-over-year, to 52 units, and active listings fell to just 97 homes, compared to 155 at the end of 2020. The result is a sales success ratio of 133%, meaning virtually every new listing is selling. The bottom-line numbers, there were only 19 townhouses and 22 apartments available for sale.

Port Coquitlam: For now, this is the most affordable of the Tri-Cities, with a composite benchmark home price of $988,800 in December. There are no big housing developments planned for 2022, but a number of civic projects, including a downtown upgrade and a civic centre makeover are underway. More housing supply is badly needed, though, as the total inventory is down to two-weeks and the sales-to-listing ratio is a sizzling 162% with 4 townhouses and 17 apartments available. An idea of the price direction in Port Coquitlam is the December sale of a 1.2-acre rental building downtown that sold for $18.2million.

Ladner: Total housing sales in December were 21 – down 49% from November 2021, and 39% below December 2020. Active Listings were at 33 (with only 1 townhouse and 3 apartments) at month end compared to 66 at that time last year and 50 at the end of November. New listings in December were down 70% compared to November 2021 and down 60% compared to December 2020. The composite home price has surged 25% from a year ago to $1,103,000 and the typical townhouse price is up 26% to $826,100.
 
Tsawwassen: Detached house prices are up 28.2% from a year ago and rose 3.3% from a month earlier to reach $1,525,300, understandable as total housing sales are running at sales to listing ratio of 215%. Active Listings were at 68 at month end compared to 176 at that time last year and 97 at the end of November.
 
Pitt Meadows: Total Units Sold in December were 33 – up from 32 (3%) in November 2021, down from 34 (3%) in October 2021, up from 26 (27%) in December 2020, up from 27 (22%) in December 2019; Active Listings were at 29 at month end compared to 47 at that time last year and 37 at the end of November; New Listings in December were down 36% compared to November 2021, up 20% compared to December 2020 and up 115% compared to December 2019. Month’s supply of total residential listings is still at 1 month’s supply and sales to listings ratio of 117% compared to 72% in November 2021, 130% in December 2020 and 207% in December 2019. The shocking numbers: 16 detached homes, 8 townhouses and 2 apartments were available at year end.
 
Maple Ridge: Total Units Sold in December were 159 – down from 198 (20%) in November 2021, down from 187 (15%) in October 2021, down from 214 (26%) in December 2020, up from 130 (22%) in December 2019; Active Listings were at 143 at month end compared to 371 at that time last year and 235 at the end of November; New Listings in December were down 50% compared to November 2021, down 33% compared to December 2020 and up 4% compared to December 2019. Month’s supply of total residential listings is still at 1 month’s supply and sales to listings ratio of 145% compared to 90% in November 2021, 129% in December 2020 and 123% in December 2019.

 

Download December Sales and Listings Statistics Houses Townhouses Condos


Download December Sales and Listings Statistics All Regional

 

Kevin Skipworth
Partner/Broker and Chief Economist at Dexter Realty

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Condos alone can’t meet buyer demand


Sales of condominium apartments accounted for 53 per cent of all housing sales in Greater Vancouver in November 2021, with a 33.3% surge in transactions compared to November of 2020, but the record-setting sales pace may underline desperation in the market.

In the Fraser Valley, November sales of condo apartments were up 42.8% from November of 2020 and the benchmark price was up 21.7 per cent compared to November 2020.


We suspect more buyers are opting for a condo apartment because there is simply such little choice amidst unprecedented low inventory across all of Metro Vancouver. As well, apartments attract more investors than other sectors of the housing market, which further reduces the inventory. This is seen in pre-sales of new condo projects, in both Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

At least six new condo projects in Surrey, for example, completely pre-sold a total of 1,400 new condos since the summer. One high-rise project in central Surrey pre-sold 365 condos in a single weekend in mid-November.

Metro Vancouver saw 15 new condo projects, with a total of 2,525 units, released in October and this was followed by 1,796 pre-sale condos released in 13 projects in November. Yet Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports that, even with 25,000 new condos under construction across Metro Vancouver, there were less than 1,500 condo units unsold as of November 1, the lowest level in three years.

As the demand increased, the price of the most affordable housing option has risen in step. As of November, the benchmark price for a resale apartment in Greater Vancouver was $752,800, up 11.1% from November of last year and 0.9% higher than in October 2021. In the Fraser Valley, the benchmark price for a apartment is now $530,400.

The average pre-sale price for a new condo in Metro Vancouver is now $1,050 to $1,150 per square foot, based on recent pre-sales. This means that a typical one-bedroom 480-square foot new condo costs around $500,000, and this average holds steady throughout most Metro Vancouver suburbs. Investors and owner-occupiers continue to buy due to expectations that prices will be even higher in the months and years ahead, which does appear certain due to the stubbornly low inventory.

The housing supply issue in Metro Vancouver is seriously out of whack with market demand. We have seen recent municipal and provincial government attempts to increase supply, but it is too little and too late to correct the current shortage any time soon.

Across Greater Vancouver the total inventory of homes for sale is stuck at a two month’s supply while the sales-to-listing ratio is running at 83% on average and cresting at over 100% in many markets.

With December looming, a month when listings traditionally fall to the lowest level of the year, Greater Vancouver will likely see the smallest ever inventory of homes to begin a New Year. The lowest we’ve seen at the start of a year is at 6,200 active listings. We will likely have less than 6,000 at the end of December which would translate into less than 5,000 active listings in Greater Vancouver when 2022 starts, after all the expired listings come and go at the end of December.

To put this in perspective, over the last six years, the average number of active listings to finish the year has been 8,440 while in the previous 20 years it’s been 12,015 homes.

If you have considered selling any type of property, list now and prepare for offers. If you need to wait until after the seasonal holidays, list early in January.

 
Highlights of the November 2021 house market:

 

Highest year-over-year detached house price increase in Greater Vancouver: Maple Ridge, up 34.1%
Biggest year-over-year detached house sales drop: Surrey, down 33.1%
Most expensive condo market: West Vancouver ($1.16 million)
Least expensive condo market: Surrey ($433,000)
Average sales-to-listing ratio, Greater Vancouver: 87%

 
 

Here’s a summary of the numbers:

 
Greater Vancouver: A total of 3,492 homes sold in November 2021, virtually unchanged (up 1%) from October but 15% higher than in November 2020. Active listings, however, crashed to 7,570 homes, down from 11,716 in November of last year. Here is a snapshot example of what is happening: New listings continue to decline as they have for months, slipping a further 2% from October to November. The month’s supply of total residential listings is still at two month’s (seller’s market conditions) and the overall sales to listings ratio is at 87% compared to 86% in October 2021 and 75% in November 2020. The composite home price in Greater Vancouver is now $1,211,200. This represents a 16% increase over November 2020 and a 1% increase compared to October 2021.
 
Vancouver Westside: A total of 647 homes of all types sold in the Westside in November, up 38% from November of 2020 and 9% higher than in October 2021.
New listings in November were down 11% compared to October 2021, but up 8% compared to November 2020. Month’s supply of total residential listings is down to 3 month’s supply (seller’s market conditions) and sales to listings ratio is 75% compared to 61% in October 2021 and 59% in November 2020. The price of detached houses on the Westside is slowly declining. The benchmark price of the 100 detached houses sold in November was $3,413,800, down 1% from October and tracking down about 1% over the past six months. The benchmark townhouse price is now $1,296,900, unchanged from a month earlier and up 12.7% from November of last year. The benchmark price for a Westside condo apartment in November was $835,500, 9.6% higher than in November 2020. With more inventory on Vancouver’s Westside, it’s keeping prices more in check compared to other areas. Funny, more supply does help keep prices down.
 
Vancouver East Side: The City of Vancouver claims it is speeding up residential building permit approvals. As an example, the city claims that it should now take 12 weeks less time to get a permit for a new house to be built. As a comparison, Surrey, which is the second largest B.C. city, guarantees that will take no more than 12 weeks for new house building permit to be approved. In Vancouver it can still take seven years for a permit for a new condo or townhouse development to work through the city process. Meanwhile, housing demand is increasing and supply is falling. Total East Side housing sales in November reached 385, up 6% from November 2020, but active listings were down to 921 homes, compared to 1,232 in November of last year. With the overall sales to listing ratio at 76%, there is now just a two-month supply of homes on the East Side. As a result, the benchmark detached house price in November was $1,744,700, up 20% from a year ago; the typical townhouse now sells for $1,070,700, up 18.8%, year-over-year; and the benchmark condo price is now $639,600 and has been rising by 1% month-over-month this year in this seller’s market.
 
 
North Vancouver: The benchmark price of a detached house this November in North Vancouver was $1,955,300, up 17% from a year ago, but for 88 house owners in central Lonsdale, detached house prices may soon be rising faster. That’s because the City of North Vancouver ruled on November 15 to upzone the 300 block (St. Andrews and Ridgeway avenues) from East 15th to East 19th Streets for duplexes. Even higher density zoning, to include row houses, is being eyed for the area. This plan has been in the works for seven years. Under the change, the 88 lots can be converted to duplexes without going through the usual time-consuming zoning process. It is a start, at least. So far this year, no townhouses have been approved to start in North Vancouver city and there are only 27 under construction in the entire city. Meanwhile, there were only 40 new listings for townhouses in all of North Vancouver City and District in November and there were 42 sales, resulting in a sales-to-listing ratio was 105%, meaning every townhouse listing is selling. I know we keep beating the same drum, but when will municipalities realize that more housing supply is desperately needed?
 
West Vancouver: While overall housing sales were down in November, with the 81 transactions off 10% from both October 2021 and from November 2020, West Vancouver also posted a dubious award: provincial data shows West Vancouver homeowners will pay the fourth-highest speculation and vacancy tax in the province for 2020, at $5.9 million. The onerous speculation tax is supposed to lower both the rental vacancy rate and the price of housing. There is no evidence of either since the tax was introduced, in fact it appears to have had the exact opposite effect. The composite home price in West Vancouver was up 12% from a year ago, at $2,552,100 in November. A lack of supply may cause prices to increase: new listings in November were down 30% compared to October 2021 and the sales-to-listing ratio is at 70% compared to 54% a month earlier.
 
Richmond: How time and opportunity slip away. In November, nearly nine years after a plan was first discussed, the City of Richmond has booted a proposal for a large residential development in the Capstan area – 1,300 homes – for further discussion. The developer has already agreed to save more trees, add more rentals and pay $205,000 for an “owl and hawk hunting area.” Don’t hold your breath waiting for a new townhouse or condo in the that area, despite the intense demand. In November, a total of 481 homes sold in Richmond, up 43% from November of 2020, but the total active listings plunged to 997 homes, down from 1,637 at that time last year and 1,155 at the end of October 2021. With just a two-month supply on the market, the sales-to-listing ratio is a startling 94%. The current composite home price in Richmond is $1,116,200, up 16.3% from November of last year. We fully expect Richmond home prices to increase as the supply dwindles.
 
Ladner: Okay, I know we have heard this before, but Ladner may actually be moving towards completing a downtown makeover plan – discussed for decades and in planning for two years – that would increase density and encourage redevelopment of the waterfront. In November the city gave preliminary approval for projects of up to six storeys. A public hearing on the plan is set for December 14, starting at 6 p.m. In November, 41 homes sold in Ladner, up 8% from October, but new listings fell 20% in the same period. There is about a one-month supply of homes on the market, and the sales-to-listing ratio is at a remarkable 103%. The composite home price was $1,077,700 in November, 23.5% higher than in November 2020.
 
Tsawwassen: The benchmark price of a Tsawwassen detached house in November was up 26.8% from a year earlier to $1,476,700, which is also 5.5% higher than just three months ago, one of the higher price increases in Greater Vancouver. Townhouse prices have shot up 13.4% year-over-year, to $872,500, which is higher than in Burnaby or New Westminster. This underlines the price parity we noted last month that may be keeping new listing in check. At one time, a seller could cash out of home in Burnaby or Vancouver and be confident of buying for much less in areas like South Delta. Also, a first-time buyer would look to the outer suburbs for more affordable homes to get onto the real estate ladder. But today, home prices are quite similar across all of Metro Vancouver. Like many suburbs, the law of supply and demand is driving Tsawwassen prices higher. With new listings down 14% in November from a month earlier, the sales-to-listing ratio was 106% and multiple offers have become common.
 
 
Burnaby East: It was more expensive to buy a condo apartment in Burnaby East than a townhouse this November, a rarity in Greater Vancouver. I suspect it is because of a lack of townhouse sales in a market where there is only a one month’s supply of homes on the market, plus the recent resales of fairly new condos. In any case, the benchmark condo price in November was $742,400, while the townhouse benchmark was $704,400. The overall sales-to-listing ratio is 85%, creating a seller’s market in Burnaby East.
 
Burnaby North: The benchmark price of a North Burnaby detached house has increased about $238,000 over the past year to a November benchmark of $1,769,000. And yes, we are still seeing multiple offers on prime houses in this strong seller’s market. Total sales in November were 185 homes, up 19% from November 2020, but the total active listings were down to 322, compared to 439 at the same time last year. The sales to listing ratio is running at 84%, up from 63% in November 2020. Burnaby North is a very strong condo market, due to the ongoing Brentwood area developments, with the benchmark condo price in November at $738,300, 11.1% higher than a year ago.
 
Burnaby South: Total housing sales in November reached 225 transactions, up 42% from November of last year and virtually unchanged from October 2021. Active listings were at 358 at month end compared to 669 at the same time last year, and 438 at the end of October 2021. New listings in November were down 2% compared to October 2021.The sales-to-listing ratio was 100% in both November and in October, showing that supply is not close to meeting demand. Townhouses are posting the strongest price growth, increasing an average of 2% per month for the last six month to reach $772,600 in November.
 
New Westminster: One potential developer has been waiting six years for a small townhouse development to achieve zoning through New Westminster’s approval process. Another, a rental project which even the mayor said “checks all the boxes,” was dissuaded from proceeding in November because city staff are concerned the site “is problematic from a livability perspective.” Meanwhile, only 12 new townhouses have been completed in New Westminster this year and, of the 16 condo apartments completed, there is only one that has been “unabsorbed”, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. There are 1,522 apartments under construction in the Royal City, but most will not complete until 2023 since 1,200 of them just started this year, and many of which are rentals. What is badly needed is strata townhouses. In November there were only 17 new listings for townhouses, but the sales-to-listing ratio was 142% due to 24 sales. As a result, the median price of a townhouse has soared $120,000 from a year ago to $854,000 this November. New Westminster currently has only a one month’s supply of all types of housing and the over sales-to-listing ratio is running at 99%.
 
Coquitlam: With total listings down nearly 50% in November, to 383, compared to the same month a year earlier and down from 430 at the end of October 2021, even Coquitlam is facing a housing shortage. This is reflected in prices in a market where the November sales-to-listing ratio was a high 89% and touched 110% in October. The benchmark condo price is up 14.2% year-over-year to $607,000; the typical townhouse is transacting at $890,100, up 22.2% from the same time last year; and detached house price are 24% higher to $1,577,900.
 
Port Moody: A flashpoint for the development community is close to ignition in Port Moody, where a major developer is apparently prepared to walk away from a large multi-family development because of repeated delays and changes from the city. The overall plan, more than two years in the works, involves replacing 58 detached houses that were assembled for a new development with hundreds of condos and townhouses. Meanwhile, total active listings have fallen about 40% from a year ago to just 125 homes in November. There is an estimated two-month’s supply on the market and the overall sales-to-listing ratio has been over 84% for two months. The composite price for a Port Moody home was up 16.6% from a year ago at $1,086,700 in November.
 
Port Coquitlam: Total housing sales in Port Coquitlam reached 127 homes in November, up 6% from a month earlier and 25% higher than in November 2020. Active listings were at 107 at the end of November, compared to 199 at that time last year and 138 at the end of October; new listings in November were down 13% compared to October 2021. Once by far the most affordable TriCity community, Port Coquitlam’s detached house price, at a benchmark of $1,323,500 in November, is narrowing the gap with Coquitlam and Port Moody, after increasing 27.3% from a year earlier. Based on its 111% sales-to-listing ratio, there is only a one-month supply of homes on the Port Coquitlam market.
 
 
Pitt Meadows: Pitt Meadows is still relatively affordable for home buyers, but only in relation to the rest of Metro Vancouver. Just three years ago the benchmark detached house price in Pitt Meadows was $702,000. This November it was $1,310,200. This may help explain why total sales in November were down 30% from the same month a year ago and 6% lower than in October 2021. New listings increased 13% in November from a month earlier, but total active listings, at just 37, are 40% lower than a year ago. The sales-to-listing ratio calmed to 72% compared to 106% in October 2021, but this remains a seller’s market.
 
 
Maple Ridge: Maple Ridge holds the distinction of posting the highest detached house price increase in Greater Vancouver, with the November benchmark price up 34.1% from a year earlier to $1,204,000.The entire Maple Ridge market is quite active, with November sales of 198 homes up 6% from a month earlier and 12% above the pace in November 2020. While total active listing are 55% lower than a year ago, new listings in November were up an encouraging 27% compared to October 2021. Yet, with the sales-to-listing ratio at 90% in November and 109% in October, prices may be forced higher.
 
Surrey: Speaking of price parity, the benchmark price of a detached house in Surrey in November was $1,557,900 after increasing 34.7% from a year earlier. But, and we have to blame the spike in prices, sales of detached houses plunged 33.1% in the same period and have remained static at around 320 sales for the last three months. Townhouses have seen the same trajectory, with year-over-year prices up 30.3% and sales falling by 20%. Lovely as Surrey is, when property prices begin to challenge suburban markets closer to Vancouver, it appears buyer resistance sets in. The outlier is Surrey condos, which are priced at a benchmark of $433,000 – far lower than in Greater Vancouver where the condo price is now $752,000. Surrey condo sales soared 52.5% in November, to 305 transactions, compared to November 2020. I would suggest that many first-time buyers and investors are being drawn to Surrey’s condo market.

 

Download November Sales and Listings Statistics Houses Townhouses Condos


Download November Sales and Listings Statistics All Regional

 

Kevin Skipworth
Partner/Broker and Chief Economist at Dexter Realty

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Suburban safety valves close as prices rise in step


The shocking shortage of homes for sale across Metro Vancouver has had the unsettling effects of levelling residential prices and stunting supply from Burrard Inlet to well south of the Fraser River. The suburban safety valves for those seeking more affordable homes have nearly vanished.


The price gap between the average home price in Greater Vancouver and the eastern Fraser Valley was once a canyon: today it is a creek.

In October 2019, just three years ago, the composite home price difference between Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley was $272,500. This October that had narrowed to less than $150,000. In the detached housing market, it now costs nearly the same to buy a house in North Burnaby ($1.74 million) or East Vancouver ($1.71 million) as in South Surrey-White Rock, where the October benchmark was $1.76 million. A house in Langley ($1.45 million) is higher than in New Westminster or Port Coquitlam and within $50,000 of a detached house in East Burnaby.

The composite benchmark price in Chilliwack in October, at $800,000, was higher than in New Westminster ($749,200); and within $200,000 of most of the Tri-Cities market.

This price-gap shrinkage is the result of and a key reason for the current lack of new listings on the Metro Vancouver market. In the misty past – like 36 months ago – Greater Vancouver homebuyers could count on selling and downsizing to a smaller, pleasant Fraser Valley community and pocketing a healthy premium. First-time buyers would start their real estate ascension buying in the eastern Valley and, if desired, leverage up to a place in Greater Vancouver.

Now, though, many homeowners are reluctant to list because their exit strategy has been blocked. It is difficult to downsize or upgrade to a place 30 or 60 kilometres away when the home prices are nearly identical or you are you don’t feel you will be able to find a home to purchase.
The effect has been devastating.

In October, Greater Vancouver saw 3,455 homes sell but only 4,120 new listings were added to the market. With an 86% sale- to-listings ratio in the month, nearly every listing that came on the market sold – and in some areas like Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Tsawwassen, there were more sales in the month than there were new listings.

In the Fraser Valley in October there were 1,938 total sales and a mere 2,188 new listings. That is a sales-to-listing ratio of 88.5%.

Will there be any properties for sale on the Metro Vancouver market by the end of 2021? At the rate of decline in the number of active listings, it would seem we could very well run out. For years, there’s been a concentrated, coordinated push by all three levels of government to hold back housing demand. But now we’re left with a complete lack of supply, the lowest levels ever recorded at this time of year.

Maybe one day we’ll stop saying how low the number of active listings is and that each month won’t be setting a record for how low they are. Likely not in the near term though. At the end of October there were 8,492 active listings available for sale in Greater Vancouver, which was less than the 9,728 active listings at the end of September. Sales for the month, however, were up 11% from September and 22.4% above the 10-year October average.

In the Fraser Valley, there were just 3,447 active listings in October, down a stunning 49.8% from October 2020 and nearly 10% lower than in September 2021. But total sales were the third-highest for October on record, 18.2% higher than in October of last year and nearly 5% higher than in September 2021. 

As we have seen for some months, year-over-year condominium apartment sales in October tracked above last year while detached and townhouse markets are showing less sales than in the same month a year ago.
Compared to October 2020, the number of apartment sales in October this year were up 14%, while townhouses were down 22% and detached home transactions down 18%. On the supply side, the number of new listings for detached homes in October was down 29% year over year with active listings down 24%, townhouse new listings were down 22% with active listings down 47% and apartment new listings down 25% and active listings down 38%.

And, unlike other years, we can’t expect a surge of new housing starts to provide the necessary inventory. Across all of Metro Vancouver, total starts as of September were down 37% from August to just 14,109 units ­– and 24% of these were rental units.
 

Highlights of the Metro Vancouver market October 2021

 

  • Communities with less than one-month inventory of homes: Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Ladner

  • Markets with sales-to-new-listing ratios higher than 100%: Coquitlam, New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, Sunshine Coast.

  • Biggest month-over-month detached house price increase: Pitt Meadows (up 4.6% from September.)

  • Biggest month-over-month detached house price decline: Vancouver West Side (down 1.3% from September).

  • Condominium sales as a percentage of the total market: 50%

 

Here’s a summary of the numbers:

 
Greater Vancouver: There were a total of 3,545 residential transactions in October, up 11% from September 2021, but down 6% from October 2020. Active listings were at 8,492 at month end compared to 13,066 at that time last year and 9,728 at the end of September. New listings in October were down 22% compared to September 2021 and 28% lower when compared to October 2020. Month’s supply of total residential listings is down to 2 months, signalling a strong seller’s market with a sales-to-listing ratio of 86%, compared to 60% a month earlier. The composite home price in October was $1,199,400, up 1.1% from a month earlier and 14.7% higher than in October 2020.
 
Fraser Valley: There were a total of 1,983 home sales in October, up 3.9% from a month earlier, but down 18.2% from October 2020. After rebounding slightly in September, new listings decreased in October. Only 2,188 new listings were added, a decrease of 29% compared to last year, and a decrease of 6.6% compared to September 2021. The month ended with a total active inventory of 3,447, which is a 9.6% decrease compared to September, and down 49.8% compared to October 2020. The average composite home price is now $1,053,635, up 2.8% from September 2021 and 24.6% higher than in October of last year.
 
Vancouver Westside: The October benchmark price of a Westside detached house was $3,450,000 and the composite home price was $1,365,300, which is double the Canada-wide composite average. Yet Westside detached house sales were up 31%, at 108 transactions, from September 2021 and total sales, at 595, were 7% higher, month over month. A lack of supply – new listings in October were down 21% from September – has had a counterintuitive effect on prices. The benchmark detached house price was down 1.3% from a month earlier and remained slightly lower (down 0.5%) from three months ago. Townhouse benchmark prices, at $1,300,300, have increased just 0.7% from August and the benchmark condo apartment price, at $823,300, is virtually unchanged from six months ago. The sales-to-new listing ratio for houses was 68%; it was 55% from townhouses and 61% for condo apartments, all up marginally from the monthly averages this year.
 
Vancouver East Side: More detached houses sold, 137, on the East Side of Vancouver in October than in any other sub-market in all of Greater Vancouver, including the West Side. The key reasons are price and potential. At a benchmark price of $1,717,400, East Side houses are less expensive than across Greater Vancouver and remain about half the price of homes west of Quebec Street. As for potential, the
City of Vancouver has new plan to scrapping the rezoning and public hearings for six-storey rental projects along arterial streets from Hastings-Sunrise to Dunbar, with most of the action expected on the East Side. This could encourage developers. The East Side will also soon have the new Broadway Corridor transit hubs; the $2 billion new St. Paul’s Hospital is underway and Mount Pleasant East is undergoing a high-tech job explosion, as is the emerging False Creek Flats. East Vancouver’s sales-to-listing ratio is running at 87% for both houses and townhouses, due to severe shortage of new listings, while 76% of new listings for condos sold in October. Its median condo price, with 178 sales in October, was $662,000.
 
North Vancouver: North Vancouver’s need for more housing supply is underlined by the sudden spike in school enrollment this year, with 440 more local students when schools opened in September compared to a year earlier. International student enrollment shot up to 531, though projections were for less than 380. This is enough students to fill two elementary schools. All these children and their parents need places to live but total new listings for detached houses in October were down about 40% from September to just 94 houses, and the sales-to-listing ratio was 100%. There was a slight uptick in townhouse listings, at 54, while new listings for condo apartments fell to 142 units, down from 224 a month earlier. The sales-to-listing ratio for condos hit 96%, the highest monthly level so far this year. The total supply of North Vancouver homes is down to 2 months, while the composite home price in October was up 0.5% from September, at $1,245,600. The benchmark detached house price led the increase, with a 1.4% month-to-month rise to $1,939,500.
 
West Vancouver: Attempts to build more multi-family strata supply in West Vancouver is mixed. A 68-unit condo project was recently approved at Taylor Wave and Marine Drive but a similar development on Bellevue Avenue was refused in mid-October. Only 24 strata homes have started this year. Meanwhile, the total supply of homes for sale is down to a 6-month inventory, as total new listings in October dropped 23% from a month earlier. West Vancouver posted 60 detached sales in October, up from 41 in September while the benchmark detached price increased 1.9% to $$3,201,200 and the sales success ratio hit 48%. Only 14 townhouses and 22 condo apartments were added to the market in October, created a sales-to-new-listing ratio of 64% and 86%, respectively for the sectors.
 
Richmond: Provincial legislation introduced in late October is meant to speed up residential developments at the municipal level, and Richmond could use such help to get more homes started. With a sales-to-listing ratio of 86% in October, Richmond has just 2 months of total housing inventory. October saw total sales increase 11% from September to 479 transactions. This was led by 243 sales of condo apartments, at a benchmark price of $731,100, a price up 0.9% from a month earlier. The benchmark detached house price in Richmond, at $1,950,600 in October, was unchanged from September. Sales of townhouses were up about 10% from September, to 117 transactions, while the benchmark townhouse price held steady at $961,200.
 
Burnaby East: Burnaby East is the most affordable of the Burnaby markets, with the October composite price at $1,099,000 and detached houses selling for $1,501,700, nearly unchanged from a month earlier. Total housing sales reached 44 in October, up 16% from September, but new listings were down 33% month-over-month and 47% below October 2020. The supply of total residential listings is down to 1 month with a sales to listings ratio of 133% in October compared to 78% in September 2021.
 
Burnaby North: Burnaby North could be the multiple-offer centre of Greater Vancouver as a 51% drop in new listings collided with a 16% increase in sales, month-over-month, in October. The result was predictable as eager buyers competed for scant opportunities. Strata prices are steadily rising and the composite home price, at $1,122,900, is now 11.7% higher than in October 2020.

There is an acute shortage of townhouses, seen in the average 1.1% price increase month-over-month this year, to an October benchmark of $841,500. Not a single new townhouse has started construction this year in North Burnaby and just 16 new townhouses under construction. Condo apartments dominate the market, selling for a benchmark of $733,200, up 4.4% from six months ago. More supply is coming, with 2,274 new condos under construction as of October 1. Detached house prices have levelled off at $1,743,700, up just 2% from six months earlier. The overall sales-to-listing ratio hit 102% in October in this strong seller’s market.
 
Burnaby South: Total October housing sales were up 25% from September to 228 transactions, while new listings were down 20% in the same period, a common story across the entire region. With a total inventory at a 2-month supply, the sales-to-listing ratio in October hit 100%, which is as tight as you can get. The composite home price in October was up 9.2% from a year earlier at $1,057,200.
 
New Westminster: The Royal City posted a 95% sales-to-listing ratio in October, compared to just 56% a month earlier, as sales increased 27% and new listings dropped 26% in the same period. The supply of total residential listings is down to 2 months. Prices continue to rise across the board, with detached houses up 1.3% from September at $1,364,600; townhouse prices up nearly 2% month-over-month to $$864,300; and the typical condo apartment selling for $568,000, 7.6% higher than a year ago and up 0.2% from September 2021.
 
Coquitlam: The City of Coquitlam has put a 4.4-acre townhouse site on the market, with RFO bids being accepted until November 10. Let’s hope some developer bites, because there were only 29 townhouses added to the MLS service in October while there were 34 townhouse sales, resulting in a 134% sales-to-listing ratio. The benchmark townhouse price is now $878,100, up 20.9% from the same month last year and they have been rising about 2% month-over-month since then. The housing shortage is being seen right across Coquitlam, with just 434 total active listings, down about 50% in October compared to October 2020. The resulting sales-to-listing ratio is 111%, which is unsustainable unless a fresh supply is added.
 
Port Moody: The City of Port Moody, which has earned a recent reputation as anti-development since 2018, appears to have seen the light, because it is running out of housing inventory which is driving prices higher. At $1,878,400 in October, detached house prices are nearly 24% higher than a year ago and among the highest of all suburban markets in Greater Vancouver. Strata prices are also rising, ascending an average of 14% over the past 12 months. The city is now hoping to increase strata supply and, as one city councillor put it “stop beating builders with a stick.” So far in 2021 only 28 townhouses have started construction in Port Moody, along with 378 condo apartments.
 
Port Coquitlam: This enclave of relative stability and affordability has been discovered, resulting in a 24% spike in sales in October, to 120 transactions, compared to a month earlier. The benchmark detached house is $1,289,000, the lowest price in the Tri-Cities market. The median condo apartment price, however, increased $40,000 from September to October when it reached $543,900. Total new listings in October were down 10% compared to September 2021, and 26% lower than in October 2020, which will increase price pressure. Port Coquitlam has a total inventory of just one month supply of homes, and the sales ratio is running at 92%, so buyers looking at this market should act quickly.
 
Pitt Meadows: After a year of quite strong sales, Pitt Meadows is running out of homes for sale, literally, which stalled total October sales at just 34 transactions, down 17% from September. There are just 34 active listings on the market, which means that virtually everything is selling. Detached house prices remain among the lowest in Greater Vancouver, but benchmark values are rising steadily and reached $1,268,000 this October, notching a 4.6% increase from September, the biggest month-over-month increase in Greater Vancouver. There is only a 1-month supply of listings and this could soon be lower as the sales-to-listing ratio is now running at 109%.
 
Maple Ridge: Total sales in October, at 182, were up 3% from September 2021 but down a stunning 36% from October 2020. The reason? Your guessed it: a supply shortage. New listings in October were down 26% compared to September 202, and 41% lower than in October 2020. We estimate, that with the current sales-to-listing ratio at 110%, the total inventory of listings could vanish in a month if the market remains unchanged. The detached house price jumped 2.3% from September to $1,176,600 and condo apartment values increased the same, to $451,000, up nearly 25% from October 2020.
 
Ladner: Hundreds of Delta detached-house owners remain under the old land use contracts, but council is taking steps to end the contracts, which restrict what can be done with a property. Mostly created in the 1970s, land use contracts were signed at the time of a property's original subdivision and outline various development guidelines. All of the contracts are to expire in 2024, but if the Ladner house you are planning to buy is still under the old rules, it is possible to receive permission for such things as adding a secondary suite. Ladner saw a total of 38 home sales in October, unchanged from a month earlier, but the total new listings increased 11% from September, which is rare in the region. The composite home price was up 2.6% from September to $1,074,100 in October, while the detached house price was 2% higher, at $1,134,200.
 
Tsawwassen: With a sales-to-listing ratio of 112% in October, the housing supply is being threatened. In October, 64 homes sold, up 12% from September, but new listings were down 22% month over month. The typical detached house sold in October for $1,460,700, up 3.6% (yes, that is about $44,000) from September. There is 2-month supply of homes in this seller’s market.
 
Surrey: Remember when Surrey houses were super affordable compared to most markets north of the Fraser River? Those were the days. In October, with 363 detached-house sales, the Surrey benchmark house price was $1,507,400, which is close to values in Burnaby and Coquitlam. Surrey house prices are now 32% higher than in October 2020. Townhouse benchmark prices, at $746,400, are up 26% for the year and 2.6% higher than in September. Benchmark apartment prices are now $462,200 in Surrey, but are rising an average of 1.6% per month. But note that, as in Greater Vancouver, active listings are down sharply from a year ago.

 

Download October Sales and Listings Statistics Houses Townhouses Condos


Download October Sales and Listings Statistics All Regional

 

Kevin Skipworth
Partner/Broker and Chief Economist at Dexter Realty

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