January 2020 Market Update
2019 was a very interesting (and abnormal) year in Greater Vancouver real estate. Typically we see the strongest market activity in the spring, but in 2019 we were off to a slow start, and the sales activity improved as the year went on. In March the headlines read ‘Vancouver home sales hit 33 year low!’, and by December home sales were up 88% compared to December 2018, and 9.5% above the 10 year December average. Buyer confidence was the main factor. In the first quarter, many prospective buyers were holding off and waiting to see if prices would continue to fall due to changes in the mortgage stress test and new taxes. However, confidence started to return in the summer, and we saw above average sales in the fall 2019.
It feels like the market bottom is behind us and we’re no longer seeing downward pressure on prices. For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for December 2019 is 23.4 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 15.2% for detached homes, 25.7% for townhomes, and 32.5% for apartments. Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12% for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20%.
Averages tell a general market story, but there are many markets within Greater Vancouver. We’re seeing differences amongst cities, product types and price points. Luxury real estate continues to struggle and experience a buyers market, whereas entry level condos are experiencing bidding wars and seller’s market conditions. Based on these recent trends, we expect the stronger sales in the lower price points to trickle up to higher price points over the coming months. Since the financial markets are up, mortgage rates are low and buyer confidence is back, our expectation is that market activity will continue to strength over the coming months. Expect more bidding wars for entry price point houses, condos and townhouses. As for the luxury market, expect sales to increase, but it will likely take a few years for it to catch up to 2016/2017 pre-foreign tax levels.