Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market: October 2013

The Greater Vancouver MLS real estate market continues to chug along. Sales have recovered from last year's lows and are now closely following 10 year averages. Listings have trended downward most of the year and continue to do so, and prices remain pretty much where they were a year ago.

We continue to see fairly typical activity when it comes to monthly home sale and listing totals. Today's activity is helping to keep us in balanced market territory, which means that prices tend to experience minimal fluctuation.

But don't stop reading. To alleviate the yawn factor of this month’s REBGV residential real estate stats, we'll sprinkle in some interesting observations and predictions from the CMHC's latest Housing Outlook.

Sales and Listings

A total of 4,315 residential properties hit the market in October, 14.2 per cent fewer new listings than in September. Active listings stood at 15,257 homes at month's end, which was also down, by 5.3 per cent, from September. There were 7.2 per cent more sales than in September, with 2,661 homes sold. Of those, 1,067 were detached houses, 496 were townhouses and other attached homes and 1,098 were apartments.

What's Up, What's Down – At a Glance
 Oct 2013 / Sept 2013 Oct  2013 / Oct 2012
Overall Sales +7.2% +37.8%
- Detached +4.5% +35.1%
- Townhome +12.2% +46.7%
- Apartment +7.9% +36.7%
New Listings -14.2% -0.2%
Current Listings -5.3% -12.2%








 Take a look at how Greater Vancouver sales have been clinging to the 10 year average for four months. October sales beat the average by 2.8 per cent and beat last October's sales by 37.8 per cent.

Greater Vancouver MLS Home Sales

According to CMHC senior market analyst Lance Jakubec, the 2013 increase in sales has been driven by single-detached houses in just a few locations: Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, Port Moody and Burnaby. Year-to-date house sales actually dropped in all other Greater Vancouver areas compared to the first three quarters of 2012.

YTD condo sales in Greater Vancouver are up only 1 per cent for the region, led by Richmond and Burnaby, with minor increases in West Side Vancouver, Port Moody and Delta. Everywhere else, YTD condo sales have dropped compared to the same period in 2012.

However, those year-to-date numbers include the slow start we experienced early in 2013. Looking at the REBGV sales numbers that compare just the last three months, we see across the board improvements over the August to October period of 2012, and that goes for houses and condos in all markets.

Meanwhile new listings were just 1.9 per cent below the 10 year average. Both new and active listings have declined continuously since May, except for an uptick in September. This chart from the CMHC's latest Vancouver Housing Outlook shows how active listings (dark blue) have recently been going down as sales (light blue) have gone up. It’s clear that actual number of listings is much higher than it was in the seller's market years leading up to the 2008 recession. (Note that this chart only covers the first half of 2013.)

Listings Edge Down

We're currently at a sales-to-active-listings ratio of 17.4 per cent, considered a balanced market.

Benchmark Price (MLS Home Price Index)

With sales and listings in balance, there's very little action on the price front. Even the REBGV’s detailed benchmark price statistics - broken down by sub-area and housing type - reveal minimal price changes. Here's the gist…

Greater Vancouver MLS Benchmark Prices % Change
 Oct 2013Sept  2013Oct 2012
Detached $922,600 0.0% -0.5%
Townhome $458,000 -0.1% +0.1%
Apartment $365,600 -0.33% -0.9%





 So once again, we turn to the CMHC for a bit of excitement. One stat we don’t see in the REBGV monthly reports is how actual selling prices compare to asking. How much are sellers willing to come down from their asking price to sell their home?

CMHC looked at single-family detached sales in the City of Vancouver and discovered that the biggest discounts were in the pricey West Side (darker blue indicates bigger discount).

Single Detatched


Shaughnessy, had the biggest difference between asking and selling. The average asking price is $5.2 million, and the average discount was 7 per cent. True, at those prices there's more flexibility, but the difference - about $364,000 - would be enough to get you the average apartment in North Vancouver, with change.

This map makes a handy guide for buyers. Check out what neighbourhoods tend to have the most room for negotiation and make your offers accordingly. In the hot neighbourhoods of Main and Fraser, shown in white, house sellers seem to be getting their asking prices, while the pale blue areas indicate that sellers will move a bit, but not much.

Overall, the Greater Vancouver real estate market has made a good recovery from the lows of 2012. The CMHC’s forecasts:

  • Moderate increases in new construction for 2014
  • Continued gains in sales and prices for the resale market
  • Existing inventory of condominium apartments, and the future supply currently under construction, will keep prices stable