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GARBUTT + DUMAS REAL ESTATE TEAM
630 Fifth St
New Westminster, BC, V3M 2X9
604.805.3115
info@gdrealestate.ca




James Garbutt

New Westminster Housing Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY NEW WESTMINSTER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for another New Westminster housing market update.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year, it started off with a lot of snow, followed by a lot of rain, which delayed everything and affected the number of sales that have taken place. In fact, numbers are down considerably. The number of sales of detached homes in New Westminster to date is 62. At this time last year, that number was 186–that’s essentially a third of the number of sales compared to last year and about half the number of sales compared to 2015. Not surprising considering the weather and considering everything that’s happened lately, and, openly, there just hasn’t been a lot of product and a lot of overpriced listings have been sitting on the market.

The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. The sales ratio for detached homes in New Westminster is 30% across the board. That means, that of ten listings, 3 of them sell in a given month. Anything north of 21% is considered a seller’s market, so the market still is strong. Isolating the ratio to focus mainly on a lower price point, say detached homes under $1.2 million, the sales ratio goes from 30% to 70%. That means the out of 10 listings, 7 of them are selling in a given month, and that is a very strong seller’s market. So there’s clear demand for the more affordable price points.

The average detached home sold this year is going for $1.125 million and the average high sales of the year is $2.3 million; but there were two sales north of $2.2 million, both in ‘Queens Park‘.

The REBGV has shown that prices for detached homes in New Westminster have gone up 8% from this time last year; but we’re finding that, for nice family layouts, in a good location, in good shape, in the more affordable price bracket, they’re up about 10%. The busy street homes, the ones that have the land value, are struggling a bit; they’re at par with April of last year or maybe even a little bit below.

Moving forward, I expect the market activity to increase quite a bit; I think sales are just starting to ramp up and that the summer is going to be a busy one. Talk about things such as coach homes for lots over 6000sqft has held back a lot of the inventory as owners wait to see what happens. But, the weather is getting better and the supply is low and the demand is high, so if you are a homeowner and you’re thinking of selling, now is the time to do so.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Greater Vancouver Realtor

New Westminster Condo Market Update for May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY NEW WESTMINSTER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a condo market update for New Westminster.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year; we’ve had some insane weather and condos have been smoking hot. That’s your update—they’re hot!

Overall, the sales for the year are down a little bit from last year, but not significantly. We’ve had 357 sales to date, compared to the same period last year which was 418, and in 330 in 2015.

So even though there’ s been a little bit of a decrease, we’re up from 2015. The sales ratio for these condos, however, is up considerably. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. Across the board, the New Westminster condo sales ratio is 76%–a smoking hot seller’s market. That means that out of 10 active listings, 7.6 of them will sell in a given month.

If we isolate the sales ratio to the hottest product right now–entry level one bedroom condos built after 2000–the sales ratio is 183%! Which is ridiculous. It basically means that is you have a newer one bedroom condo to sell, it will sell immediately. And we’ve been experiencing that. Keep in mind that that’s 183% sales ratio when a seller’s market is considered anything north of 21%.

What are prices doing? Well, prices are up. The REBGV says that prices are up 20% compared to this time last year. We’ve had cases where the prices have been up 30%+. We recently listed four New Westminster condos that received 20 offers combined averaging $43,000 above their list prices. So, if you’re a condo owner and you’re looking to sell, it’s a great time to do so; but figure out where you’re going, because if you’re buying another condo, it may be frustrating.

Essentially, everything in the strata seems to be quite active right now in New Westminster. The market is as good and as strong as we’ve ever seen.

On the buy side, expect frustration, expect competing offers and expect to pay more than the last sale. Things may slow down in the fall, but there’s nothing telling us that right now. At the moment, it is a seller’s market and New Westminster condos are hot.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Local New Westminster Realtor

Greater Vancouver Housing Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY GREATER VANCOUVER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Greater Vancouver housing market update.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year, and between the snow and the rain, the weather has been awful and it’s held back the sales a little bit; the number of sales are down considerably compared to 2016. As of April 26, 2017, in Vancouver the number of sales of detached home is 701. Now compared to the same period of time last year, it was 1473–just under half the number of sales.

In Burnaby, we see the biggest effect: 267 compared to 1400 last year. In the Tri-Cities, 469 compared to 1098 sales. Overall, the trend is that the number of sales is down considerably and, in most cases, less than half of what they were last year. Mind you, last year was insane and this year we’ve seen some legitimately awful weather.

In terms of prices, let’s look at the sales ratio. To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher.

In the last 60 days, the sales ratio for detached homes in Vancouver is 15%; that means that of 10 active listings, 1.5 of them are selling in a given month. That’s a low figure, but when you isolate listings at $1.5 million or less, that figure goes from 15% to 38%–a strong seller’s market. When you isolate that figure from $3 million plus it goes from 15% to 9%. So the high end is really what’s dragging down the sales ratio.

And similar stats are in Burnaby, where the sales ratio is 21%, but under $1.5 million, it’s 53%, and at $2 million, it’s 9%. So the high end market is what’s struggling right now, but the entry points are quite active—they’re hot.

Some fun sales of the year:

The highest sale to date was on Point Grey Road and it sold for $17.6 million, this is from the REBGV stats. In the Tri-Cities, the highest sale was $3.4 and it was ‘Anmore‘, which is, in my opinion, one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets.

In conclusion, the weather has held the market back. I expect these sales numbers to improve in the coming months, more so in the seller’s favour. The weather’s going to get better, a lot of homes will be coming on the market and I think it’s going to be a very active time. However, a lot of people are overpricing their homes–$2.5 million homes are being priced at $3 million, or $2 million dollar homes at $2.5 million, and that is proving not to work right now. You could get away with it last year, because the market would climb until it reached that point, but this year, it’s not. We’re seeing price points similar to last year in most areas and we’re seeing prices 20% above last year’s prices. So, there’s a big gap between list price and sale price and that’s holding back the sales ratios in a lot of these places.

If you’d like my opinion, if you’re selling a higher end product:

1. Don’t list it if you’re not serious about selling.

2. Price it properly.

On the buy side, I think it’s a great time to buy higher end product, but I just don’t think the seller’s are willing to come down to your price points yet. On the sell side, now is the sweet spot to sell detached homes. May, June, July, are active months, so take advantage.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Greater Vancouver Realtor

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 GREATER VANCOUVER CONDO MARKET UPDATE

Greater Vancouver Condo Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY GREATER VANCOUVER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Greater Vancouver condo market update. It’s been a bit of a crazy year, and, between the snow and the rain, the weather has been awful and it’s held back the sales a little bit, or at least that’s part of the reason for it.

As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of sales are down from this time last year in the same period. If I were to put an approximate figure on it, I would say it’s down 30% in terms of number of sales. However, number of sales is just part of the equation for the market–prices are up considerably. Condos and townhouses are hot! They’re more affordable than detached homes, and, as a result, have a lot more buyers.

To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. That usually means that prices don’t back track. In Vancouver right now, we’re seeing a sales ratio of 60% over the last 60 days. In Burnaby, it’s 66%, in New Westminster it’s 76%, and in the Tri-Cities it’s 98%. These are strong seller’s markets.

If we isolate Vancouver condos north of $1.5 million, the sales ratio goes from 60% down to 22%, which is on the fringe of a seller’s market. At that figure, it’s definitely not a climbing market, but it’s definitely not back tracking either. So, sales volume may be down, but the prices are up. According to the latest stats from the REBGV, condo prices are up 16% across all of Greater Vancouver; however, in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities, we’re seeing a figure that seems to be more in line with 25%. And, particularly newer condos built after 2000 that are entry price points in the market, they’re smoking hot. The demand for affordable condos is high; the higher the price points, the lower the demand.

Let’s look at those percentages in a more practical way. Let’s look at a ‘Yaletown‘ 1 bedroom that’s 550 sf mid-level, say 10 years old as well. Those are selling for $1100 a foot this year; in 2016 for $950sf, and the year before it would be $775. Back to back years of 20+% appreciation–that is a hot market. It’s not sustainable, but it is smoking hot at the moment and I don’t expect it to slow down any time soon. 

Some interesting stats for Greater Vancouver:

The highest sale as of April 26 2017 is $8.7 million. That was for a 3600sf condo in ‘Coal Harbour‘. That’s bigger than my house. In the Tri-Cities, a condo in Newport Village sold for $1.4 million for 1800sf overlooking the water.

Moving forward, I expect more of those to come; a lot of people that are downsizing are moving into these high end condos. So if you own a high end condo, now is a great time to consider listing. Basically, if you own any condo in Greater Vancouver, now is a great time to sell! The problem is, what are you going to buy? If you’re buying another condo, you may have some challenges.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Burnaby Realtor

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 GREATER VANCOUVER HOUSING MARKET UPDATE

Burnaby House Market Update for May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY BURNABY REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here–and it’s time for a Burnaby detached house market update. It’s been a bit of a crazy year that started off with a lot of snow followed by record amounts of rain and we feel that this held back the number of sales compared to previous years.

As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of detached houses sold in Burnaby was 276 units*, compared to 1400 units in 2016 and 558 units in 2015. That’s basically 1/5th of the sales volume in terms of units sold compared to this time last year. Not surprising, however, because the weather has been awful, and Burnaby houses have become very expensive! The average list price of a detached home in Burnaby at the moment is $2,212,700 (as of April 26, 2017), and the average sale price over the past 60 days has been $1,696,600.

To get a good indication of how the market is doing, we look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio, or the number of sales that take place in a given month, divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. Currently, Burnaby homes are on the fringe of a seller’s market. When looking at the last 60 days of activity, the sales ratio is 21% for all houses in Burnaby. However, if we isolate homes priced under $1,500,000, the sales ration climbs to 53%. If we isolate the $2 million plus price range in Burnaby, the sales ratio decreases to 9%. Basically meaning that 1 of out 10 listings in this price range are selling in a given month. As a Burnaby Realtor, what we’re seeing is that there are a lot of overpriced homes; there are a lot of higher end homes priced 10-20% above where they should be.

Moving forward, we expect to see the sales ratio increase in the seller’s favour. The market is starting to heat up and the weather is getting better. The high end market may still struggle, but we expect houses priced under $2 million in Burnaby to be in high demand over the coming months.

Some interesting stats for Burnaby:

There has been just 1 detached home sold in 2017 for under $1 million and it went for $998,800. It was a small older home on a very busy street (10th Ave). It’s official, the new entry price point to buy a detached house in Burnaby is $1 million. The high sale for 2017 is $3,180,000 and it was a newer home sold in ‘Upper Deer Lake‘.

*Note that this information was taken on April 26, 2017. They are likely firm sales that have not registered on the MLS. Actual 2017 figures may be slightly higher than noted above.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

 

Contact Us Today

 

James Garbutt
Burnaby Realtor

 

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 BURNABY CONDO MARKET UPDATE

Burnaby Condo Market Update for May 2017

BURNABY CONDO MARKET UPDATE BY REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Burnaby condo market update! It’s been a bit of a crazy year, we had a lot of snow at the beginning followed by record amounts of rain and we feel that this held back the number of sales compared to previous years.

As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of condos sold in Burnaby is 636 units*, compared to 1022 units in 2016 and 708 units in 2015. Sales volumes may be down, but prices are up, and condos are hot. The REBGV just released the latest market stats and it shows Burnaby condos are up 25% compared to 1 year ago.

To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. Currently, Burnaby condos are experiencing a strong seller’s market. When looking at the last 60 days of activity, the sales ratio is 65% for 2 bedroom condos and 85% for 1 bedrooms. This tells us that condos are in demand, and even more so for lower price points.

Let’s look at Brentwood Park for a moment as it is a popular neighbourhood for many condo buyers due to it’s central location and ample supply of newer condos.

The price per square foot for a typical 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, mid level unit that is 850-880 sqft in a 10ish year old building at OMA (2345 & 2355 Madison Ave, and 4250 Dawson St) or Tandem (4118, 4178 & 4182 Dawson St) is currently selling for about $775/ sqft or $675,000 (as of April 2017). In April 2016, they were selling for $635/ sqft or $540,000, and in April 2015 they were selling for $520/ sqft or $450,000. It is a climbing market and Burnaby has seen back-to-back years of 20% plus appreciation.

The highest price per square foot recorded this year was $980/ft in Brentwood Park, and if that is the start of the new trend, expect Burnaby to get even more expensive!

*Note that this information was taken on April 26, 2017. They are likely firm sales that have not registered on the MLS. Actual 2017 figures may be slightly higher than noted above.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

 

Contact Us Today

 

James Garbutt
Burnaby Realtor

 

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 BURNABY HOUSE MARKET UPDATE

Vancouver too expensive? Move to New West!

As real estate prices in Vancouver’s neighbourhoods escalated out of reach, Vancouverites looking to own their home are heading east.

New Westminster Realtor James Garbutt says he’s seeing more and more buyers looking at the city as an affordable alternative to Vancouver, but without giving up the amenities of city life. While $1.2 million might get you a tear-down on a small lot in East Van, in New West it can put you in a beautifully-renovated Craftsman heritage home that’s centrally-located close to schools, parks, shopping and transit.

The city’s condo market offers similar value, says Garbutt. “Let’s take your typical 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo in a newer concrete high-rise. Currently in Yaletown or False Creek you’re looking at $1,100/sqft.  In Burnaby’s Brentwood Park area you’re looking at $800/sqft , and in Downtown New West this figure goes down to $625/sqft.”

That value isn’t going unnoticed in Vancouver. In fact, says Garbutt, over the past year about 30 percent of visitors to open houses he’s conducted in New West are from Vancouver.  For detached homes in particular the number is much higher.

Garbutt recently sold a beautiful Craftsman style home at 903 Henley St, New West. Roughly 75% of the open house visitors came from Vancouver.  It achieved multiple offers, and the buyer was a young professional couple from Downtown Vancouver.

 

Vancouverites are moving to New Westminster

This Craftsman heritage home in New Westminster was recently sold by Realtor James Garbutt to a couple from Vancouver.

 

For detached, single-family homes in New Westminster sold in 2016, 51 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver, suggesting their clients likely are as well, says Garbutt. For condos, 36 percent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver.

“In New West, our main sources of buyers are coming from more expensive markets, primarily Vancouver,” says Garbutt.

 

Who’s buying houses in New Westminster

Who's buying houses in New Westminster

Where buyers are coming from to buy houses in New Westminster

Who’s buying condos in New Westminster

Who's buying condos and townhouses in New Westminster

Where condo and townhouse buyers in New Westminster are coming from

 

New Westminster is no longer a secret, says Garbutt. “It’s centrally located. There’s a great sense of community and local pride that many other suburbs lack.  And, quite frankly, it’s the most affordable community to buy into that’s within 30 minutes of Downtown Vancouver.”

The city is undergoing a renaissance. After languishing through the 1990s as a marketplace for cheap street drugs peddled by Honduran dealers loitering around its SkyTrain stations, Downtown New West has come alive with new restaurants, with more on the way. At Eighth and Columbia Streets, the gleaming Anvil Centre has replaced a squalid block of cigar shops and temporary employment agencies. The western end of historic Front Street has been opened to the sky with the partial demolition of the old parkade. The waterfront has been enlivened by Pier Park and the River Market.

The historic Queen’s Park neighbourhood abounds with lovingly-restored family heritage homes along quiet, leafy streets, and the Sapperton area surrounding Royal Columbian Hospital is alive with young families attracted to its affordable, smaller detached houses and new condo developments.

 

The leafy streets and lovingly-restored heritage homes of New Westminster’s Queen’s Park neighbourhood.

 

Progressive businesses like Steel & Oak Brewing Co.Brick + MortarEl Santo and 100 Braid St. Studios actively promote the city far and wide on social media using the hashtags #newwest or #theroyalcity, which have more than 130,000 posts on Instagram combined.

To preserve the city’s historic identity, City Hall is taking steps to implement historic design guidelines in neighbourhoods like Queen’s Park. The City works with developers to maintain historic building facades, like the Trapp & Holbrook and the Freemasons Hall, which is currently being transformed into a new residential development.

 

Vancouverites are attracted to New West

The City is working with developers like Robert Fung to preserve historic facades such as the Trapp + Holbrook condo tower on Columbia Street.

Vancouverites are buying in New West.

An architect’s rendering of a new residential development being built behind the preserved facade of the New Westminster Mason’s Hall on Agnes Street.

 

With the pressures of growth, New West is looking at finalizing a new Official Community Plan in June (check out the 25 year vision at: OUR CITY 2041), that will introduce higher density in certain neighbourhoods and laneway houses throughout the city.

The city is growing conservatively without losing its identity, says Garbutt. It’s being proactive about managing that growth. That’s attracting new businesses and new residents. Especially from Vancouver.

 

Housing market waking from seasonal slumber

Winter may be hanging on tenaciously, but the housing market is waking from its seasonal slumber.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reports 2,425 residential home sales in February; that’s 59.2 per cent more than were sold the month before.

And while it’s still 41.9 per cent less than the record 4,172 homes that were sold in February, 2016, it’s only slightly less than the 10-year average for the month.

REBGV president Dan Morrison says rotten weather may have helped keep buyers at home. But the supply of new listings is also tight. The 3,666 new properties for sale in February was 36.9 per cent less than a year ago, and 11.4 per cent fewer than January. It was also the lowest number of new listings for the month since 2003.

That’s keeping prices buoyant in the local housing market, says Morrison.

“While home sales are not happening at the pace we experienced last year, home seller supply is still struggling to keep up with today’s demand,” says Morrison. “This is why we’ve seen little downward pressure on home prices, particularly in the condominium and townhome markets.”

The ratio of sales to active listings actually increased 10 per cent from January to 31.9 per cent; experts say housing prices don’t start going down until that ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period and they go up when the ratio stays greater than 20 per cent over several months.

Condo sales strong in local housing market

Condo sales are still hot in the housing market

Condo sales are still hot in the New Westminster and Burnaby housing market, despite the wintry weather.

In fact, the benchmark price for a typical condo in Greater Vancouver increased 2.7 per cent in February to $526,500. In New West, the benchmark price for a condo went up 1.4 per cent to $392,400; that’s a 21.3 per cent increase over a year ago. The benchmark price for condos also increased in Burnaby, by as much as 2.6 per cent to $503,600 in North Burnaby, to 1.9 per cent in South Burnaby, where a typical condo now goes for $561,600.

The benchmark price for townhomes in Greater Vancouver is now $675,500, a 1.3 per cent increase since January and 18.3 per cent more than Feb., 2016. New West townhomes experienced similar increases to a benchmark of $545,500 while in North Burnaby, the benchmark price increased 3.1 per cent over the previous month to $539,500.

House prices are staying steady; in Greater Vancouver the benchmark price of $1,474,200 for a single-family detached home was unchanged from January. In New West, the benchmark price for a typical house went up .3 per cent in February to $1,026,700 while increases in Burnaby ranged from .1 per cent in the South to $1,636,100 to a 1.3 per cent jump in North Burnaby to a benchmark price of $1,499,600.

The February stats

What’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

What’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate? And what’s not? We’re well into the new year, we’ve settled back into familiar routines. It’s time for a little market analysis and look ahead to the coming months.

Snow and ice. A media feeding frenzy. Changes to the mortgage rules. The foreign buyers’ tax. The usual post-Christmas lull. It’s all added up to a of uncertainty, and a “lukewarm start” in the Greater Vancouver real estate market.

Sure, sales are down 39.5 per cent from last January. And there’s 9.1 per cent more listings.

But the market is stronger than it may appear.

Condos and townhouses are what’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

In fact, condos and townhouses are hotter than ever! They’re still selling at peak prices. They’ve been virtually unaffected by the legislative changes, or skittish buyers. We’ve already had a few recent sales that were 5-10 per cent above last summer’s spike.

Quite simply, there’s more demand for condos and townhouses for sale than there is supply. It’s the first time I can recall condos being hotter than houses.

So, if you’re looking to purchase a condo, don’t expect to find a deal. You’re going to have to jump when the right one comes up because there’s no sign they’re going to slow down in the short term.

If you’re selling a condo, it’s a great time. The provincial government’s new loan program to help first-time homebuyers with their downpayment is already driving demand. Many of those buyers are shopping for condos.

Houses are what’s not hot in Greater Vancouver real estate

The market for detached houses, on the other hand, is still cool. Especially for houses worth more than $2 million. Currently, there’s 240 of those listed for sale in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities. But only seven have sold.

Then again, only seven such homes sold in all of 2010.

Also feeling the pain are land value listings as builders hold off, hoping to score a deal. Difficult properties such as those with weird layouts or ones located on busy streets are presenting challenges as well.

Overall, their prices are discounted 5-10 per cent, and sometimes even as much as 20 per cent, from where they were last summer.

That’s not great news for sellers. If you’re looking to sell a high-end detached home, it might be best to hold off a little longer if you’re able; I expect the market will rebound 5-10 per cent by the time the weather warms up.

For buyers, there may be some opportunities to score a deal that would have been unattainable last summer. You could do especially well if you’re willing to throw a little sweat equity into the mix by buying a home that needs some renovation.

Of course, what’s hot in Greater Vancouver real estate, and what’s not, is always evolving. The fact remains, this is a desirable place for people to live and invest in real estate, and the general trend for property values continues to increase over time. It’s all about where and when you want to jump into or out of the market. Spring is just around the corner; traditionally that’s a busy time of year whether you’re selling or buying.

Metro Vancouver real estate has “lukewarm start”

Metro Vancouver real estate hasn’t exactly started the new year like a house on fire.

“From a real estate perspective, it’s a lukewarm start to the year compared to 2016,” said Dan Morrison, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

That’s creating some opportunities for buyers who had decided to step aside from last spring’s market madness.

In fact, prices for detached homes have declined about seven per cent since July, said Morrison. “Conditions with the market vary depending on property type. The townhome and condominium markets are more active than the detached market at the moment.”

That’s been our experience. Townhomes and condos are selling quickly. Some are commanding offers greater than their listed price. Detached houses are staying on the market longer.

True to form, sellers are waking from their usual December doldrums. New listings of detached homes, townhomes and condos increased 215.5 per cent over the end of 2016. There were 4,140 new listings in January, but only 1,312 in December.

Overall, there are 7,238 homes currently listed for sale in Metro Vancouver, 9.1 per cent more than a year ago.

Sales of detached homes in January were down 57.6 per cent from a year ago. Condo sales dipped 24.7 per cent and townhouse sales went down 32.4 per cent.

That’s helped nudge the ratio of sales to active listings to 21 per cent, the lowest since January, 2015. Analysts say housing prices start to feel downward pressure when the ratio goes below 12 per cent for a sustained period.

House prices down in Metro Vancouver real estate market

The benchmark price for a typical detached home in Metro Vancouver has gone down 6.6 per cent over the last six months to $1,474,800. It’s also dipped slightly for townhomes to $666,500. That’s .4 per cent less than it was six months ago, but it is .7 per cent more than it was in December.

For condo apartments in Metro Vancouver, the benchmark price has increased .3 per cent over the past six months to $512,300. In New Westminster, the benchmark price for a condo is up 5 per cent over the last six months to $387,700. For condos in North Burnaby it’s gone up 6.3 per cent to $490,800.

REBGV stats for Metro Vancouver real estate market in January

Who’s buying a home in New Westminster?

We’re always curious about who’s buying a home in New Westminster.

After all, we don’t just work in New Westminster, we also live and play here.

It’s important for our clients, and for us, to have a handle on how the city is changing and how those changes might affect the local real estate market.

Whenever we hold an open house, we ask visitors where they’re from. The majority are usually local, mostly curious neighbours. But as we started tracking the numbers, we were seeing more and more people coming to our open houses from Vancouver. In fact, through Oct. 2016, 22 per cent of visitors to our open houses were from Vancouver.

When we looked at actual sales last year, the trends were even more definitive.

For detached single-family homes, 51 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver, suggesting their clients likely are as well. For condos, 36 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver. The next biggest source was from Coquitlam. But New Westminster residents who’ve chosen to stay in the city were close behind.

Infographic of who is buying a home in New Westminster

Who is buying a home in New Westminster

Overall statistics of who is buying a home in New Westminster

Overall 39 per cent of the buyers’ agents were from Vancouver.

It’s not surprising, really.

As real estate prices spiralled upward through the first half of 2016, Vancouver homeowners were cashing out and looking for value by buying a home in New Westminster.

Buying a home in New Westminster is affordable

New home buyers who can no longer afford Vancouver are looking for a place that fits their budget but still offers them the amenities of the big city they desire.

Like Justin Turcotte. The 29-year-old filmmaker and his wife, Jaycey, moved to New Westminster last year from East Vancouver. They bought a home in Sapperton because they could afford it, something they could no longer do west of Tenth Avenue.

Buying a home in New Westminster is an affordable alternative to Vancouver for many

Justin Turcotte, 29, takes a break from gardening in front of the home he and his wife, Jaycey, bought in New Westminster a year ago. The couple discovered the city when they could no longer afford to buy in Vancouver, where they’d lived the past six years.

 

But moving to New West hasn’t cost them the urban vibe they loved in East Van, says Turcotte. “It really doesn’t feel like a suburb.”

New Westminster is no longer a secret. The city is centrally-located, there’s a great sense of community and, quite frankly, it’s the most affordable community to buy into that’s within 30 minutes of downtown Vancouver.

Even people who grew up here are appreciating the value of buying a home in New Westminster.

Anna Horvath considered moving to Gastown, Chinatown and Mount Pleasant in Vancouver when she was shopping for her first home before she realized there’s no place like her hometown. She ended up buying a condo in the Trapp + Holbrook on Columbia Street.

Unique buildings are attracting people buying a home in New Westminster

New condo projects like Robert Fung’s Trapp + Holbrook on Columbia Street are helping make New Westminster more attractive to young urban professionals who’ve been priced out of the Vancouver market.

“The area needed to have a sense of community,” she says. “I wanted it to be on a transit line and no bridges between my place and the downtown core. I did not want to spend most of my disposable income on a mortgage.”

Anna’s thrift is well founded; a two bedroom, two bathroom condo that’s between 800 and 900 square feet, in a five to 10 year-old building, will cost a little over half in Downtown New West than it would in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood.

Buying a home in New Westminster is more affordable

But this new demographic of young professionals buying a home in New Westminster does create some challenges for British Columbia’s oldest city, says its mayor, Jonathan Coté.

“It certainly does present a challenge to be able to anticipate that services are in line with the growing population and demand,” says Coté.

To meet that challenge, the city embarked on a three-year process to update its Official Community Plan, a kind of road map for growth that was last visited in the 1990s. New Westminster’s population is expected to exceed 104,000 by 2041.

“The Official Community Plan is definitely a document that guides us how the city will transform,” says Coté. “The timing is perfect for a city in our stage of growth that is starting to become attractive.”

But to manage the city’s growth, it needs a variety of housing options, and the infrastructure like schools, transportation, recreation, culture and jobs, says Coté.

Attracting families buying a home in New Westminster

One key component is the city’s new Family-Friendly Housing Policy.

It was sparked by a 2015 City of New Westminster supply analysis that ranked New West 21st out of 22 Metro Vancouver communities for ground-oriented housing and 20th for housing options with three bedrooms that are more family-friendly.

But the need for family housing is growing. Census data from 2011 shows an 11 per cent increase in the number of families living in New Westminster compared to 2006. Of neighbouring communities, only Surrey and Coquitlam saw a larger jump, and BC’s overall increase was just 6 percent.

Matt Lorenzi and his family know the frustration of buying a home in New Westminster.

Matt Lorenzi says he searched for more than a year to find a condo in New Westminster that could accommodate his family of four.

Matt Lorenzi knows the frustration of finding a family home in New Westminster only too well. He spent about a year searching for a new, larger home that could accommodate his growing family, his budget, and his desire to stay centrally-located in the Lower Mainland as well as close to transit.

“We wanted more space, something as modest as a third bedroom or spacious den,” says Lorenzi, whose family of four could no longer fit into their one bedroom plus den apartment. “We knew the supply of three-bedroom condos was limited. But we didn’t really realize it until we started our search.”

After a series of consultations with residents and builders, the City brought in a new bylaw that mandates new multi-family projects must dedicate at least 30 per cent of the units to two and three bedrooms with at least 10 per cent of the total comprised of three-bedroom units.

New multi-family rental buildings must also include a minimum 25 per cent two and three-bedroom units, with at least five per cent of the total comprised of three-bedrooms or more.

The bylaw, the first of its kind in British Columbia, came into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

So far developers have been receptive, says John Stark, New Westminster’s acting manager of planning. “There is a realization in the development community that three-bedroom units appeal to a wider market segment, like extended families and young professionals looking at shared living arrangements.”

In fact, says Stark, some projects that have been submitted by builders in the past year are even exceeding the mandated requirements for two and three-bedroom units. One of those is a new condo development planned for 100 Braid St.; 26.1 percent of its units will be two-bedrooms and 13.5 percent will have three bedrooms.

Stark credits an ongoing dialogue with developers as well as some key compromises, like not requiring the third bedroom to require direct light from a window, for the smooth transition. He says the city is committed to gauging the ongoing success of the bylaw and adjusting it if necessary.

“We’re still in the early days,” says Stark.

That gives Lorenzi hope his family will be able to stay in New West, even as their living requirements change. After flirting briefly with the idea of moving to Port Moody or elsewhere, they were able to find a suitable condo in Victoria Hill

“Over the eight or nine years prior to moving (to Victoria Hill) we grew to love New West,” says Lorenzi. “The city should encourage a mix of housing, especially larger units for growing families.”

Buying a home in New Westminster “the right choice”

Justin Turcotte says he’s confident moving to New West was the right choice.

“It took a bit of warming up to the idea of living so far from Vancouver,” says Turcotte. “We’re discovering new things about the city and have been pretty impressed by what we’ve seen so far. I definitely still think that it’s only going to improve and offer more.”

Anna Horvath says she’s also feeling good about her decision to stay in New West, close to family and the friends she grew up with.

“It ticks most of the boxes.”

 

A version of this article was commissioned for Tenth to the Fraser magazine, where it appears in the February, 2017 edition.