Sales of Westside detached houses were up 6.6% in October compared to the same month a year earlier, but the 81 sales were consistent with a month earlier and remain indicative of a generally slower market this year. Prices also remain consistent, down 0.7% from September and 1% lower than three months ago, at a benchmark of $3.62 million. The Westside detached sales increase was lower than the average across Greater Vancouver, which experienced a 44% rise from October 2016.
Westside detached sales, however, have slowly been improving over the past four months and we fully expect that pace to accelerate over the final months of 2017. Part of the reason is the new federal mortgage requirements that kick in January 1 that will make it harder for some buyers to qualify at the price level they want. There is also a concern that mortgage interest rates may increase early in 2018, though we doubt it. In any case, there has been a recent rush of potential buyers getting pre-qualified for mortgage money. This shows both the sophistication of buyers and a harbinger of continued demand.
With 217 new listings for detached houses added to the Westside in October, the sales-to-new-listing ratio dipped to 37%, but the sales success rate was much higher at lower price points. For instance, the sales ratio was 100% for the 29 detached houses listed at $2.75 million or less. The most popular price point for buyers, at 10 sales, was in the narrow range $4 million to $4.5 million, where 48% of the 21 new listings sold. Incidentally, only 10% of the 21 listings priced just a bit higher at from $4.5 million to $5 million sold. There is a message for sellers there.
Townhouse buyers seeking a Hallowe’en scare only had to look at the number of new listings on October’s Westside market. Only 85 new listings were added, with just 9 priced at $800,000 or less. And these all sold in less than a week. The biggest selection was listed at $2 million or more, 30% of which sold just as fast. There are new townhouses planned but, because of a number of reasons, it now takes from 10 months to 41 months (nearly three and half years) for a Vancouver townhouse project to move from the permit stage to completion. Sorry buyers, but we will be facing a low townhouse inventory for at least a year unless there is a sudden and sustained increase in resale listings.
The benchmark price of a Westside townhouse in October was $1.26 million yet the typical new listing sold in a median of 7 days, the fastest pace in six months. This is excellent news for sellers. But sellers must remain realistic. In October, the sales-to-new listing ratio was 46%, which represents a slim buyer advantage. Only 7 of the 21 listings priced above $1.75 million sold, but 21 of the 26 townhouses listed at $1.2 million or less sold. Faith Wilson Group is recognized for achieving higher prices and quicker sales on the Westside than the industry average. We do this by knowing the true market value that creates a win-win for both sellers and buyers.
Foreign buyers are coming back into the Westside market 14 months after the foreign-home buyer tax was introduced. It is estimated that non-residents now account for 5% of sales, but Vancouver is also seeing a spike in immigration that adds to the demand for townhouses. That is why your agent must be able to offer multi-language marketing in both print and Internet/social media platforms.
Vancouver has a record number of condominium apartments under construction and yet condo prices have also reached unprecedented levels. That is what happens when demand outstrips supply. Condos account for 65% of the 35,000 new homes under construction in Metro Vancouver, but only 500 completed units are unsold. On the Westside, 5,658 resale condos came to the market this year and 72% of them sold. In October, 610 new listings for condos were added 58% of them sold, most within 9 days. With sales up 18.9% from last October and running consistently at more than 11 sales every day, the Westside condominium market may be the hottest it has ever been.
So where are Westside condo buyers the most active? The downtown and Kitsilano is the easy answer. The Downtown led all areas with 83 sales in October at a benchmark price of $736,600, followed by Yaletown with 43 sales at a benchmark of $842,900. Kitsilano was third with 39 condo sales at a benchmark price of $905,000, up $9,000 from a month earlier.
I advise first-time buyers to purchase right now because a Westside condo may be the investment of a lifetime. Don’t be spooked by the $806,500 benchmark price: in October 34 Westside condos were newly listed for $500,000 or less. The province will still match your down payment with a no-interest, no-payment loan for five years. As well, Westside condos are appreciating at a pace that could potentially cover your entire down payment within a matter of months.
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