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Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: April 2013

Now is not the time to ask the moon for your Greater Vancouver home. The lowest April sales total since 2001 indicates that there aren’t the usual spring hordes of buyers out there right now. But there are more of them than there were in March.

The benchmark price for all homes is down 3.9 per cent from April 2012, but it’s been creeping up all year, and that might be just enough to nudge a few more buyers to start looking.

“While the number of home sales remains below average, properties that are priced right are selling,” says Sandra Wyant, President of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

“Priced right” differs greatly by neighbourhood and by housing type, so if you’re selling—or buying, for that matter—a good Realtor will have the tools to find the sweet spot.

Sales and Listings

The REBGV’s 10-year average for April sales is 3,321. This April, MLS® home sales in Greater Vancouver missed that mark by 20.9 per cent. The 2,627 sales were the lowest April total since 2001. So far, 2013 is shaping up to be even more lacklustre for sales than 2012.

But sales continue to climb, month over month. Take a look at the sales chart. April sales dropped  off in 2012 and 2011, but this year there were 11.9 per cent more sales than in March.

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver monthly sales chart, 2011-2013

Apart from a surge in January, new listings have declined every month since last September. But last month, 21.4 per cent more home owners put their homes up for sale than in March. That’s still down 3 per cent from last April—so we’re not exactly seeing a panic-fueled stampede to sell. In fact, the 5,876 new MLS listings total sits right at the 10-year average.

Total current listings are up 8.2 per cent compared to March, and just 1.2 per cent over the April 2012 total.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio has remained above 15 per cent for the second month in a row.

What’s Up, What’s Down – At a Glance
Apr 2013 / Mar 2013 Apr 2013 / Apr 2012
Overall Sales +11.9% -6.1%
- Detached +13.9% -5.5%
- Townhome +18.3% +5.8%
- Apartment +7.1% -11.6%
New Listings +21.4% -3.0%
Current Listings +8.2% +1.2%

Benchmark Price (MLS® Home Price Index)

Sandra Wyant says, “… we’re seeing greater balance between buyer demand and the number of homes listed for sale. This is having a steadying influence on home prices in the region.”

And once again, changes in benchmark prices were insignificant.

Greater Vancouver MLS® Benchmark Prices % Change
Apr 2013Mar 2013Apr 2012
Detached $914,000 +0.8% -5.2%
Townhome $455,200 +0.2% -3.5%
Apartment $365,900 +1.0% -2.6%

The MLS Home Price Index is based on the movement in price of a typical home for a neighbourhood (the benchmark price). With January 2005 designated as the “100″ point, you can see how benchmark prices for all housing types in Greater Vancouver have been marching pretty much in lockstep.

Townhouse and condo prices have remained remarkably flat since they recovered from the 2008 – 2009 recession, while detached house prices have experienced more movement, but the same pattern:

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver MLS House Prices index April 2013

If you crave more excitement, take a look at the much more jagged chart based on average prices. The average detached house price has fallen  $68,946, or 5.6 per cent, from its most recent high of $1,221,037 in February.

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver average house prices for April 2013 chart

This chart is a wilder ride because it can be skewed by high-priced property sales. According to the new RE/MAX “Upper End Market Trends” report, sales of luxury homes in Vancouver were down 29% in 2013’s first quarter compared with the same period in 2012.

The report said a total of 287 luxury properties—which in Vancouver are defined as those listed over $2 million—were sold in the city, compared with 404 sales in 2012’s first quarter.

“The pace has shifted in Greater Vancouver’s luxury housing market, reflecting the obvious pullback in foreign investment,” the report states.

“Higher prices, a softer Chinese economy, financing and immigration regulations have all contributed to softer demand.”

For more on the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s statistics, see the REBGV full stats package for details broken down by city and municipality.

Elizabeth WilsonREW.ca