Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: March 2013
The big lesson this month is that you can have a balanced market, but that doesn’t mean it’s typical. “Balanced” simply indicates the sales-to-active-listings ratio, which rose to 15.2 percent in March, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
The REBGV defines a balanced market as anywhere from 12 to 19 per cent. The Greater Vancouver MLS® market was stuck below 12 per cent since July 2012 until it squeaked to 12.2 per cent in February. The REBGV calls anything under 12 per cent a buyer’s market, but, again, the name doesn’t really tell the story. Buyers weren’t buying at typical rates.
So even though the sales-to-active-listings ratio tells us the market is now balanced, the sales and listings numbers say it’s kinda wonky.
Sales and Listings
The 2,347 sales recorded around Greater Vancouver in March were 30.6 per cent above February’s sales, and that’s as it should be as the market hits its spring stride.
However, compared to other Marches, 2,347 sales is slow: 18.3 per cent below March 2012, and 42.5 per cent below March 2011 (an unusually busy year). It’s the second-lowest since 2001, in fact, and 30.2 per cent below the 10-year average for March.
To put it graphically…
New listings also lagged. They were up only 0.1 per cent over February, and 17.2 per cent lower than March 2012. That puts them at 14.4 per cent below the 10-year March average.
March saw 15,460 Greater Vancouver homes for sale on the MLS, which is up only 4.5 per cent over February. Slow sales must account for the increase in active listings, because there weren’t enough new listings to make up the difference.
|Mar 2013/Feb 2013||Mar 2013/Mar 2012|
Neither sellers nor buyers are rushing in to end the standoff we’ve been witnessing since last summer. And that means that prices aren’t moving much either.
Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)
As REBGV president Sandra Wyant puts it: “While home sales were below what’s typical for March, we are seeing more balance between the number of sales and listings on the market in the last two months, which is having a stabilizing impact on home prices.”
|Mar 2013||Feb 2013||Mar 2012|
In general, more expensive areas are seeing bigger drops in benchmark prices. The price of a typical detached house on the West Side of Vancouver dropped the hardest of the 20 communities surveyed by the REBGV; it fell 9.1 per cent from a year earlier, compared to a region-wide decline of 5 per cent. The West Side benchmark is currently $2.06 million, still the highest in all of Canada.
Richmond has also seen a y/y dip of 8.4 per cent, and now sits at $938,100.
In West Vancouver and Burnaby South, the benchmark price of a detached house dropped 4.9 per cent to $2,026,400 and $923,900. North Vancouver is the only other municipality where the benchmark house price is over $900,000. At $936,100, it has declined just 2.4 per cent from March 2012.
However all of the most expensive municipalities except for West Vancouver saw small increases in detached house prices compared to February.
Townhouse and condo prices have seen consistent y/y drops, but less so than houses. And m/m changes have all been within a very small range.
See the REBGV full stats package for details broken down by city and municipality.
We could experience a sluggish market all the way through 2014, says TD Bank Senior Economist Sonya Gulati, who will be keynote speaker at the upcoming Vancouver Real Estate Forum. She provided this table with TD Economics’ sales and prices forecast for Greater Vancouver, based on numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association: