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The banker I talked to this week had seen a sudden increase in clients upsizing their homes, going from condos to townhouses, townhouses to houses, houses to better houses. He seemed surprised. I wasn’t. The pent-up demand in Vancouver’s housing market has been building for months and after beginning to release this summer it virtually burst in October with a 45 per cent surge in overall sales compared to a year earlier across Greater Vancouver. Detached housing sales were up 47.3% from October 2018, the highest year-over-increase in 2019 with benchmark prices up 7.5 per cent. The banker believes it is due to lower lending rates – qualified buyers can seize five-year mortgages now at 2.9 per cent or less. Other say it is because benchmark prices are lower than a year ago. I believe it is simply that people want to improve their lives and for many that begins at home, a newer, better home. So it is no surprise that the autumn uplift is so pronounced on the Westside, which has arguably the best homes in the best neighbourhoods in all of Metro Vancouver.
Sales of Eastside detached houses reached 108 transactions in October, the second-highest monthly sales this year and up a startling 58.8% from October of 2018. The sales rally is being seen right across the province, but there is a key reason why the Eastside has seen a bigger sales increase than most markets: Eastside detached houses are a relative bargain. At a benchmark price of $1.36 million, houses are less than half the price seen west of Quebec Street, and are lower than in most of Burnaby, North Vancouver and Richmond and $100,000 below the Greater Vancouver benchmark. Given the record immigration levels we are now experiencing, plus the inherent shortage of Vancouver land, relaxed zoning and big transit plans, an Eastside detached house has a better potential for future appreciation than any area in British Columbia.
Buyers are shopping carefully. It now takes an average of 35 days for a new listing of a condo apartment to sell, the same pace we have seen for most of this year and, while sales are tracking up, Vancouver benchmark condo prices in October remained 6% lower than in 2018 and slipped down moderately from September. Sellers are also hesitant. The 711 new listings added in October were lower than in both a month earlier and in October of last year. This helped to push the sales-to-new-listing ratio this October to 74%, clearly a seller’s market and the highest sales success rate in any Metro Vancouver market of any property type. This will surely attract more condo listings in the weeks and months ahead. If the sales ratio holds at this level prices will increase. For buyers now is the time to have financing and mortgage pre-approvals in place so you can act quickly when an opportunity arises. Sellers must make sure their property is shined and ready to show, that the listing price is accurate and be flexible on subjects and possession dates. In other words, welcome back to a healthy, normal market.
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