May 2023 DEXTER Report: More competitive market emerging for sellers

Highlights of the May 2023 Dexter Housing Report


• May average home price $200,000 higher than in January

• May home sales-to-listing ratio a sizzling 59%

• Total sales the highest this year and higher than in May 2022

• Surrey detached new listings were up 53% from April 2023

• Overall higher listings may point to a price plateau this summer 


After five months that defied most predictions and pundits, the Metro Vancouver housing market has righted itself - as we’ve been saying the last few months, while quickly shifting to a seller’s market. But the potential is there to be more balanced between buyers and sellers as we sail into the summer.

May exposed a slight tilt in that balance in favour of buyers, with sellers about to face a more competitive environment with the increase in new listings that happened in May. And depending on what happens with the Bank of Canada’s interest rate announcement on Wednesday, that could change some buyers’ ability to compete.

Back in January and before – when the headlines were full of predictions of a recession and a continued housing downturn - we urged homebuyers to jump into the market to take advantage of the dip. Since then, the average home price in Greater Vancouver has shot up by $200,000 and the sales-to-listing ratio has risen from 29% to 61% in April before settling to 59% in May, close to the hottest markets in 2021 and early 2022.


We based our forecast not only on the strength of the regional economy but on decades of experience as real estate professionals at Dexter Realty. We have seen deep downturns and heady highs before, so we understand the patterns and how quickly it can change.


While May 2023 marked the fifth straight month-over-month increase in sale and price, it also sent the first signals of a chance for a market shift.


While we are still in a seller’s market in most areas and property types, if the increase in new listings continues, this will favour buyers. And perhaps some buyers are waiting for the June 7 Bank of Canada announcement, which could affect mortgage rates.


The evidence is in the number of sales and listings in May, and when they occurred. It is all about momentum.

In May 2023 a total of 3,411 residential properties sold in Greater Vancouver, not only the highest sales of this year but the first month in 2023 that sales were higher than the same time a year earlier and the first time this trend occurred in the last few years. 

The average (not benchmark) home price in May reached $1,315,617, the highest level since April 2022 and up nearly 3 per cent from May of 2022.  

This would all point to a seller’s market, except that, unlike previous months this year, May sales were slightly lower in the second half of the month compared to the previous two-week period to start May. At the same time, new listings increased, rising from 2,909 at mid-month to 5,776 at month’s end, compared to 4,399 in April 2023. May tends to be the most active month of the spring market, so we could see that shift come June. 

In the Fraser Valley, new listings in May, at 3,533, were 42% higher than in April (with detached listings up a startling 61%) while sales increased just 10% month-over-month to 1,711. 

So, as May ended, we were seeing parallel momentums: many more listings and perhaps the peak of sales.

While the last few months have been characterized by multiple offers and increasing prices, we will now see more competition among sellers. It will take many more listings to ease the competition amongst buyers but May was a start.

With the increase in listings comes some great opportunities for buyers. Work with an experienced REALTOR® who can sniff out the right property that’s gone under the radar. This isn’t 2021 when prices went wild. There is now a sense of control, and, for some properties, buyers are not willing to compete or take on the price that sellers are asking. 

Buyers must practice patience now, which is difficult after months of low inventory. We are going to see listings increase, the sales-to-listing ratio settling down and more competitive pricing offered by sellers. In short, hopefully we’ll see some balance come into the market for the first time in three years. 

Of course, all real estate markets are unique, and not all will follow the same trajectory immediately.

There were 9,293 active listings at month end, above the 8,790 at the end of April. Yet some areas had fewer active listings in May than a month earlier, so it’s important to look locally when doing direct comparisons. 

Vancouver East saw a slight uptick in the sales-to-listings ratio while North Vancouver maintained its high rate at 66%. Both locations were called out by the provincial government for not doing enough to supply housing in its recently released list of the municipalities that aren’t building enough homes. Port Moody, on the heels of less sales in May compared to April, saw its absorption rate fall from 91% to 65%.  

Ladner led the way in May with a 108% sales-to-listings ratio as there were more sales than new listings there. Not surprisingly, Delta was also cited by the province for not supplying enough homes. 


Overall Greater Vancouver remains with 3-months’ supply of listings – and with the current number of sales we’d need to double the number of active listings to get into a truly balanced market, but listings are finally increasing.

Best advice to buyers: Work with your trusted REALTOR®, get pre-approved for financing, narrow your search and be ready when your agent finds that ideal property. Do your homework and keep within your budget. 

Best advice to sellers: Prices have risen 1.5% per month this year, but do not expect that to be automatic. A property priced right will attract a slew of potential buyers (it is not uncommon to see 40 people through a weekend open house) but if it is priced above the market or not showhouse ready, buyers now have the option to move on to the next new listings.


A summary of the regional markets: 


Greater Vancouver: A total of 3,411 residential properties sold in May, up 24% from a month earlier and, for the first time this year, higher than in the same month in 2022, when 2,947 transactions were counted. The surge in prices surprised us all, even the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV). “Back in January, few people would have predicted prices to be up as much as they are – ourselves included,” Andrew Lis, REBGV’s director of economics and data analytics said. “Our forecast projected prices to be up by about 2% at year-end. Instead, home prices are already up about 6% or more across all home types.”

As of May 23, the composite benchmark price was $1,118,000, up 1.3% from a month earlier; the detached house price was up 1.8% to $ $1,953,600. While townhouse prices remained virtually the same as in April, at just over $1 million, condo apartment prices were up 1.1% month to month to $760,800.

Active Listings were at 9,293 at month end compared to 8,790 at the end of April; new listings in May were up 31% compared to April 2023. Month’s supply of total residential listings is steady at 3 month’s supply (seller’s market conditions) and sales to listings ratio of 59% compared to 62% in April 2022 and 45% in May 2022.


Fraser Valley:  Total Valley sales reached 1,711 in May 2023, up 25% from May 2022 and 10% higher than in April 2023. With new listings up 42% from April, there were total active listings of 5,588 at the end of May, 20% higher than a month before. The benchmark composite home price in May was $961,702, up 6.7% from April 2023 and 3% higher than in May 2022. 


Vancouver Westside: Metro’s bellwether housing market saw 624 sales in May, up 33% from a month earlier and 7% higher than in May 2022. The May 2023 benchmark detached house price has increased 5.7% (or $193,000) in the past six months and took another 0.5% step up from April to $3,338,800. Townhouses sold for $1,457,500, down 3% from April, and condo apartments sold in May 2023 at a benchmark of $849,800, up 4.8% over the last three months. Active listings were 2,115 at month end compared to 2,460 at that time last year and 1,992 at the end of April, but new listings in May were up 40% compared to April 2023. With a 3-month supply of total residential listings, the sales-to- listings ratio is a healthy 53% compared to 56% in April 2023 and 46% in May 2022. 


Vancouver East Side: Vancouver is one of the cities named as needing to increase new home starts and it is easy to understand, since East Vancouver, like the Westside, also has just a 3-month supply and a sales-to-listing ratio above 50%. The problem is new homes are more expensive, largely because of government fees and taxes, which have increased sharply. A recent study showed a typical new $840,000 condo apartment in Vancouver includes $327,565 in government costs. An Eastside resale condo had a benchmark price of $707,000 in May, up 1.9% from a month earlier, while townhouses were at $1,109,100, the same as in April, and detached houses sold in May for at a benchmark of $1,822,700, up 2.5% from a month before. Total May sales were 360, up 35% from a month earlier and 13% higher than in May 2022. Active Listings were at 1,006 at month end compared to 1,173 at that time last year and 939 at the end of April. This is a full-on seller’s market.


North Vancouver: Total housing sales in May were 288, up 32% from a month earlier and 3% above May 2022. The composite benchmark home price is $1,397,500, up 5.5% from six months ago and 1.8% higher than in April 2023. While new listings increased 32% from April, total active listings were 514 at the end of May, representing just a 2-months’ supply of housing, with townhouses down to a 1-month inventory. The sales-to-listing ratio has held steady at 66% for two months. The benchmark price for a detached house is now just 4% below May 2022, and, at $2,269.400, the highest level this year.


West Vancouver: The benchmark price of a detached house in West Vancouver in May was nearly unchanged from six months ago, at $3,111,600. Total housing sales, mostly detached houses, were 80 in May, up 16% from April 2023 and 16% higher than in May 2022. With 529 total active listings, there is a 7-month supply in a balanced market where the sales-to-listing ratio is 35%.


Richmond: Two large strata projects in Richmond totaling 1,200 units have been cancelled, the latest the 400-condo Minora Square on May 26, where pre-sale buyer deposits are being refunded. Perhaps a resale condo is a safer bet, since Richmond has also raised new condo development cost charges to around $25 per square foot. In May, a total of 396 homes sold in Richmond, leaving a total inventory of 1,043 properties (a drop from 1,602 at the end of April), or about a 3-month supply, with a 61% sales-to-listing ratio. Prices are rising sharply. The benchmark detached house price is up 7.7% since December 2022, at $2,189,600; and the benchmark condo price in the same period is up 9.6% to $747,00. Townhouse prices are 0.2% higher than a year ago, at $1,119,900.


Burnaby East: Burnaby East saw 39 home sales in May, up from both April 2023 and May 2022 and it now has 90 active listings. With a sales ratio of 57%, the benchmark home price is up 4% since the start of the year, at $1,159,600. This is a seller’s market with just a 2-month supply of homes on the market.


Burnaby North: Burnaby has the most new housing in the works across the region, with a total of 10,630 new strata units envisioned in four massive projects from Brentwood to the Edmonds area, according to an open house May 30 at Burnaby City Hall. All four sites require rezoning. However, Burnaby also wants to increase development fees to help cover the cost of an extended array of infrastructure, including firehalls, RCMP police stations, homeless shelters and “composting and organic processing facilities,” which will add to new strata prices. The new homes are needed. Burnaby North has just a 2-month supply of active listings and they are selling at a pace of 63% per month. The benchmark condo price is now $805,800 and townhouses sell for $902,200, both up about 6% from the first of this year. 


Burnaby South: Total units sold in May were 233, up 8% from a month earlier and 43% higher than in May 2022. The benchmark composite home price is up 5.5% since January 1, at $1,112,300; and detached house prices are up 8% in the same period to $2,177,100, the highest in Burnaby. New listings in May were up 20% compared to April 2023 but down 7% compared to May 2022. The supply of total residential listings, at 404, is steady at a 2 month’s supply (seller’s market conditions) with a sales-to-listings ratio of 73%. 


New Westminster: The benchmark price for a detached house in the Royal City was $1,525,800 in May, up 5% from the start of 2023, but the overall composite price remains among the lowest in Metro, at $827,600. A total of 142 residential properties sold in May, 26% higher than a month earlier and up 27% from May 2022.  Active Listings were at 258 at month end compared to 313 at that time last year and 238 at the end of April. This is about a 2-month supply as the sales-to-new-listing ratio has been running at 70% in both May and April. 


Coquitlam: Total May sales reached 284, up 35% from April 2023 and 16% higher compared to May 2022. Active Listings were at 555 at month end compared to 642 at that time last year and 495 at the end of April; new listings in May were up 38% compared to April 2023, perhaps because sellers see what is happening. The benchmark home price has increased 4.7% so far this year to $1,114,900 and the sales-to-listing ratio has been over 60% for four months. This is a strong seller’s market.


Port Moody: This Tri-City community has a history of slow development, and it is on the list of cities where the province wants to see more housing starts. Port Moody now charges $33,453 per detached or duplex lot in development fees and tacks from $11 to $14 per square onto new strata units, so that will add to new home prices. Right now there is just a 2-month supply with only 184 active listings. Benchmark home prices are still 9% below May 2022, at $1,112,300. The sales to listing ratio, though, was 65% in May and 91% in April, so supply could disappear quickly. 


Port Coquitlam: Total units sold in May were 91, up from 76 in April 2023 and the very same at in May 2022, but the composite benchmark home price is down 6.9% year-over-year, at $951,800. Detached houses were benchmarked in May at $1,392,100, up 8.5% from January 1, but still 8% lower than a year ago. While new listings in May were up 89% from April 2023, there are only 153 active listings, enough to last about two months, with a sales-to-listing ratio running at 62%.


Pitt Meadows: Just 30 homes sold in May, but that was 44% better than April 2023 and higher than the 28 sales in May 2022. Detached home prices, while lower than last year, have soared 10% from the start of this year to a 2023 high of $1,274,800 in May. Active Listings were at 71 at month end compared to 84 at that time last year and at the end of April; New Listings in May were down 17% compared to April 2023 and the hot sales-to-listings ratio of 86% shows the current supply may not last long.


Maple Ridge: With 218 sales in May, total transactions were up 35% from a month earlier and 23% higher than in May 2022. The benchmark detached house price has increased 7.6% over the past three months to $1,261,700, with townhouse prices up to $768,100 after a 2.4% increase from a month earlier. The post-COVID slump in Maple Ridge appears over, with a sales-to-listing ratio in May of 63% and 62% in April in what has become a seller’s market with 539 active listings available.


Ladner: Delta is another of the Metro region cities called out by the province for not building enough new homes. Ladner, for example, only has 85 active listings (down from 100 at the end of April) and the May sales-to-new-listing ratio was 108% and new listings were down 14% from April 2023, while sales increased 26% to 54 transactions. The benchmark home price in Ladner is up 7.2% since the start of the year, at $1,144,200. There were more strata sales than new listings in May, which saw townhouse benchmark prices rise 10.4% so far this year to $973,800. Condo benchmark prices are at $704,800 in May, up less than 2% since January, however. 


Tsawwassen: Total units sold in May were 62 up 15% compared to April 2023, up 44% higher than in May 2022. Active listings were steady at 166 at month end compared to 165 at that time last year and 167 at the end of April; New Listings in May were up 23% compared to April 2023. Total residential listings are at a 3 month’s supply (seller’s market conditions) and the sales to listings ratio of 68% compares to 73% in April 2023. The benchmark home price in May was $1,221,900, up 5.6% from the first of this year but nearly 9% below the price in May 2022. Townhouse sales are particularly slow and the benchmark price of a townhouse, at $1,005,700 in May, has barely budged in two months.

Surrey: B.C.’s second-biggest city saw 855 total sales in May, almost evenly divided among detached, townhouse and condo properties, but there the similarity ends. Detached sales, at 284, were up 44% from a year earlier and 11.4% from April 2023. The average detached price was $1,784,000 in May, up 8% from a month earlier. There were 246 townhouse sales, up 8% from a year earlier and 14% higher than a month earlier, while the average townhouse price was up just 0.3% from April 2023 to $878,396. Condo apartment sales, at 225, were up 1.8% year to year, and 1% month to month, while the average price was up 3.3% from last year and 6.6% from April 2023, at $560,180.

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