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The Victoria Condo Market


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#1 Holden West

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 01:26 PM

Condo boomerang

By Steve Weatherbe
Business Examiner editor
editor@businessexa
Aug 07 2006

Is the boom sustainable?

Are those condo towers that are bursting forth from vacant lots and unrolled blueprints-or is that a real estate cycle about to plunge precipitously?

"You have to ask whether Victoria has the capacity to absorb the hundreds of new condo units being built," says Jack Davis of Davis Realty, sounding doubtful. "It could. You never know."

Derrold Norgaard of KPMG Victoria thinks the signs of a downturn are showing, but he is quick to qualify: "I thought they were there a year ago too." Waiting lists for condos are shortening or gone in the outlying neighbourhoods of the capital region, where downtrends start. The American buyer, driven by post 9-11 stress, is driven no longer, in the absence of any follow up conflagrations, to buy a bolt hole in Victoria.

KPMG collague Sang Ly believes the downtown upscale market will hold, because the Alberta energy boom itself will hold. "Demand for oil and gas isn't going down anytime soon."

But low-end condos and starter homes are already skirting the market's ability to pay, he believes.

Glenda Turner, publisher of Real Estate Victoria, is picking up signals of a market that is "resetting" itself, but predicts a milder, gentler phenomenon than collapses of the '80s and '90s.

Evidence of the softening market is the jump in the number of price decreases being made by vendors-from five per issue to 30. "This happens when the prices get too high."

Turner admits she likes a slightly soft market because ads stay in longer and grow bigger as vendors' anxiety climbs. In the overheated market last summer the paper was down to 64 pages. Now it is at 100.

But over her quarter century in the business Turner has seen the market moderate. "We used to get spikes up and down. Now it doesn't drop. It falls back a little and picks up again."

Davis agrees the business is cyclical, but can't really think of a reason for demand to fall. "We're still getting a healthy percentage of buyers from Ontario and Alberta. Calgary is a place to go to make your fortune. Victoria is the place to spend it."

American interest in Victoria has tailed off but "It wasn't that significant. It was mainly waterfront property they wanted." And Davis's recent encounters with Chinese business people suggests that they will put a growing upward pressure on the housing market here. "They are looking longingly at our country. The Olympics will propel that to some degree. With the billions being spent on the Olympics and the millions who will see it in person or on TV, I don't see the market coming down for a while yet." In the short term, however, there is the potential for oversupply.

However, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Lee King reports that "the market is accepting the new supply" according to its monthly-collected data. The contributing factors, according to King: improved migration from elsewhere in Canada; strong employment growth (Victoria's job rate lags only Edmonton and Calgary's in Canada); continued low and affordable interest rates; all adding up to "very strong consumer confidence" in British Columbia, as reported by the Conference Board of Canada.

Grant Evans of Colliers International only sells commercial space, but reports the hot condo market is impacting on his turf by causing "C" grade office space like the old Ministry of Forests building on the 1600 block of Government Street building to be converted to condos.

The result: more pressure on "B" and "A" buildings, which are already being squeezed by new businesses and quiet provincial government expansion.

The commercial market, chilled by Liberal government downsizing in its first term, turned the corner for the better half a year ago, says Evans. It will be several years, however, before it has progressed to the point of squeezing up a new office building downtown.

"Nobody is going to be able to get financing for commercial space until there is 50-per-cent pre-occupancy."
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#2 Scaper

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 01:45 PM

Great article.

I personally don't there will be a crash. I see the condo market downtown expanding for some time.

#3 G-Man

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 05:20 PM

Why do people always think the condo market will crash rather than discussing the crash of SFDs. I mean there are FAR more SFD units being built than MFDs but the fear is always with condos? Why ?

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#4 Holden West

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 05:47 PM

Could it be that most SFDs sprawl out virtually unnoticed (Bear Mountain notwithstanding) or spring up quietly as infill in established neighbourhoods while condos are often constructed amid huge publicity and fanfare (and controversy). It's hard not to notice Victoria's condo construction--it's right there on the skyline, visible from any angle, talked about in the papers, discussed over the back fence and at the cafes.

Or could it be that while we talk about our dream of a SFD with a white-picket fence, we truly aspire to [url=http://victoria.wetpaint.com/page/The+Urban+Cliff+Revolution+is+happening+in+our+western+suburbs...:a5815]own a condo[/url:a5815] in the sky--even subconciously?
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#5 HOMBRE

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 04:58 PM

although, there are still many who wish to live in SFD's, seems to me that the condo world is still a much newer idea so to speak.

It seems like a general trend atleast within the metropolitan areas of north america, i mean even in well established cities we are seeing houses being torn down for what?? large highrise condos.

it would be interesting to see the take on housing types from our european counterparts, i figure that majority of people would rather own their apartment/flat/condo within their metro than own a SFD out in the outskirts.

personally i see the SFD market slowing before the condo one, as people begin to attempt to conserve energy and fuel.

#6 Mike K.

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 09:08 AM

Island in home building boom
BY DARRON KLOSTER Times Colonist business editor

There was more residential construction activity in the Greater Victoria region during September than any other month in the past 16 years, according to new data from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Last month’s 387 housing starts — which included 139 apartment units in Victoria — was the busiest month since April 1990 but still well below that boom period when 615 units were rising.
Peggy Prill, senior analyst for the federal housing agency, called September “an unusually strong month” as Victoria and parts of Vancouver Island continued to buck the national trend toward a softening construction market.
Builders, however, were cautioning about reading too much into the latest numbers, saying September may have been a perfect storm when zoning issues, construction timetables and pre-sell conditions on several projects may have come through at the same time. The CMHC takes its monthly inventory based on the start of building off a foundation.
Still, the numbers for building on Vancouver Island continue to be impressive. New housing starts from Campbell River to the capital hit 671 units in September, well ahead of the 549 units started in August and the 540 underway in September 2005. Overall, the Island has had 3,625 housing starts this year — 288 more than a year ago.
Greater Victoria has had 1,980 residential construction starts during the first nine months of the year. That’s an increase of 421 from the same period a year ago.
In Campbell River, the number of new homes is up to 268 for the first nine months, an increase of 53 per cent. Parksville-Qualicum area has 263 new residential units so far this year, up from the 200 started over the first nine months of 2005.
Duncan, Nanaimo and Courtenay all showed decreases year to date. Nanaimo slowed the most, showing just 55 starts last month compared to 233 in September 2005. Overall this year, the harbour city has 600 new starts, 126 fewer than the first nine months of 2005.
Prill said the positive influences of Victoria’s economy — a national low unemployment rate, unprecedented job growth and increasing migration levels from other provinces — have fuelled the surge in new housing.
Across Canada, housing starts edged down 2.5 per cent from August levels to 211,300 starts in September. B.C. homebuilding held steady to 29,800 in September compared with 29,400 the previous month. The figures are seasonally adjusted at an annual rate.
Casey Edge, executive director of Victoria’s Canadian Homebuilders Association, said the increasing numbers of condominiums under construction points to an “affordability issue” that is only getting worse in Victoria. He said land costs are escalating and the costs of materials and labour are inching higher at a rate “where it’s going to outstrip people’s ability to pay.”
He said three levels of government have to work together to ease some of the costs of building new homes, such as taking the initiatives to increase zoning for townhouses and other forms of housing, reducing development cost charges, retooling the GST rebate on new homes and easing other costly building regulations.

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#7 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 12:40 PM

Island in home building boom
BY DARRON KLOSTER Times Colonist business editor

(snip) ...
Casey Edge, executive director of Victoria’s Canadian Homebuilders Association, said the increasing numbers of condominiums under construction points to an “affordability issue” that is only getting worse in Victoria. He said land costs are escalating and the costs of materials and labour are inching higher at a rate “where it’s going to outstrip people’s ability to pay.”
He said three levels of government have to work together to ease some of the costs of building new homes, such as taking the initiatives to increase zoning for townhouses and other forms of housing, reducing development cost charges, retooling the GST rebate on new homes and easing other costly building regulations.


(warning: small rant coming up!)
I saw that article this morning, too, and have to say this is the kind of reporting that drives me up a wall. I thought that the City of Victoria was considering the introduction of DCCs because doing so would stop all the speculation and rumour-mongering around "gifts to the city" and "bonus density trade-offs" and "amenities," etc.? So, wouldn't it be a kindness on the part of the reporter at least to clarify that DCCs are by no means a uniformly applied tool across the region? It's the T-C, and readers in Victoria (the city of) will read this and have a completely different point of reference (if they have one at all, that is) than someone in, oh, I don't know ...Nanaimo?

I find this as annoying as when the papers report on something happening at Thetis Lake, say -- for eg., in relation to that development there -- and write "Victoria lost its chance to ___ [fill in the blank]" or some such thing. Uh, shouldn't that be View Royal? Whenever something is negative, it's "Victoria," but if it's something that accrues positively, the municipality in question is mentioned by name. It consistently makes Victoria look stupid and incompetent, and I sometimes get the impression people like it like that. If you go only by the reports in the paper, you can live here for decades and never realize just how many legal municipalities there are and that Victoria, legally defined, is just one small part of the pile. I wish the reporters would make this clearer and do so more often.
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#8 Holden West

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 11:00 AM

I cut this out of the article on Langford's Reflections project because people like me that only skim the West Comms. forum might have missed it and it deserves a read as it deals with the market as a whole.

-------------------

Rumour mill 'wrong about Reflections project'
Condominium firm's owner says Langford venture is going ahead

Andrew A. Duffy
Times Colonist

Thursday, November 02, 2006

[snip]

There are plenty of challenges out there for condominium developers, not the least of which is the sheer number of units available. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports condominium listings in Greater Victoria have hit a seven-year high.

"There's a lot of product out there and a lot of product coming up as well," Gill said, adding the consumer's contentment to sit back and wait to buy has added to the challenge. "People don't believe pricing will change much now and will remain stable, and others even think it might go down."

That might explain why the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) listing service has 928 condominiums listed and a total of 3,426 properties available. The board's sales figures from October back up Gill's contention the market continued to slow down in October.

With 590 sales recorded through the Multiple Listing Service in October, sales were flat compared to the 593 in September. The inventory jumped to 3,426 at the end of October compared with 2,496 at the same time last year.

The average price of sales continues to increase. The average price for single-family homes in Greater Victoria last month was $523,677 with the average for the last six months being $524,017. The median was $450,500. The average price for all condominiums sold last month was $272,224, while the six-month average was $287,079. The median was $252,500. The average price for townhomes last month was $351,663 with the six-month average coming in at $361,476. The median was $335,000.

Scott Kendrew, president of the VREB, said there has been a definite change in the market, with the craziness of bidding wars for property now a memory. Buyers can now take some time to consider their options. He said year-over-year increases in sale price of between five and 10 per cent is sustainable and healthy.

According to CMHC senior market analyst Peggy Prill, any softening in the market should not be seen as the first sign the real estate bubble is about to burst as it did after previous condo building booms.

Prill said there are big differences between now and then, as interest rates remain low, unemployment is almost negligible, and developers have discovered the safety blanket of the pre-sale.

She said almost three-quarters of the condominiums under development have been spoken for. "No one wants to take big risks on big projects -- you don't want to find out after you've poured cement that the market doesn't like the project."

Gill has pre-sold 50 per cent of Reflections and has made sure to hold back enough units to ensure the project remains viable even if construction costs increase.

"I don't foresee a [market] crash, but I do see a levelling off," he said, noting large-scale developments will be done in phases so supply does not far exceed demand and maintain a healthy market.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#9 Mike K.

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 01:46 PM

Housing bust ‘won’t hit here’
U.S. expert says some unique factors created plummeting prices

BY ANDREW A. DUFFY Times Colonist staff

Canada may view the American housing market’s recent performance as a cautionary tale, but the country and Victoria in particular shouldn’t be too worried about heading down the same boom-andbust track, according to an American housing expert.
Tom Burk, the president of Coldwell Banker Wachholz in Kalispell, Mont. and a former Calgary real estate agent, said the recent bust in the U.S., which saw new home prices plummet by 35 per cent in September, is due to a confluence of factors and won’t necessarily be duplicated north of the border.
“There were a series of things responsible, factors that we don’t have in Canada,” said Burk, is Victoria to speak at the Canadian Home Builders Victoria annual general meeting.
Burk said a combination of factors in the U.S. created a huge economic stimulus and led to a building “frenzy.” These factors included low interest rates after 2001, a tax-deferred exchange program that requires U.S. homeowners to reinvest capital gains from property sales into new property within a short period of time, and a lending environment that offered belowprime rates without any equity.
“It turned the market into a frenzy and when it turned [down], it turned with the ferocity with which it went up,” he said.
While Canada’s economy picked up in step with the U.S. and enjoyed low interest rates as well, Burk doesn’t believe we’re heading down the same path, principally because Canadians tend to be more prudent.
“I’m not very worried about Victoria or Vancouver Island at this point. You have good demand, you do have tremendous supply, but you also have substantial inmigration,” he said, adding the investment community in Canada which tends to have equity in its projects is not as exposed as in the U.S. “I don’t see any irrational exuberance in Victoria right now.”
Linda Lee Brougham, president of the CHBA-Victoria, agreed, noting while Canada tends to follow the U.S. lead economically, there are mitigating factors that insulate places like Victoria.
“We may even be more insulated here than some places like Central Canada, those places that are more reliant on the U.S.,” she said, noting there is no one factor that is driving the market in Victoria. “Though I suppose in-migration is the most common one, as we have a lot of Albertans coming in with a lot of money.”
Burk warned builders and developers must pay heed to whatever is driving the market.
“If [developers] are bringing on land that is not in any way extraordinary and expecting there to be extraordinary demand, well, that is just irrational and I think we have to watch out for that,” he said.
He said Victoria, which will be expecting a large number of well-to-do baby boomers settling here over the next 10-15 years, needs to bring good product out of the ground, and that means the ordinary won’t do anymore.
“By 2021 they say nearly 25 per cent of the population of the Island will be over 65. These people will not accept runof-the-mill product that comes on the market,” he said.
And there is plenty of supply coming.
Island homebuilding kept up its frenetic pace in October with 481 housing starts, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation figures released yesterday.
That figure is down from the 671 homes started in September but is 40 per cent above last October’s 342.
According to CMHC, housing starts are up 12 per cent over 2005 levels on the Island, buoyed by strong demand from people moving here from other areas of the province and the rest of Canada.
To the end of October, Victoria recorded 2,300 starts compared with 1,691 through the same period in 2005. The Island recorded 4,105 starts year-todate compared with 3,679 over the same period in 2005.
Greater Victoria saw 320 housing starts last month, more than half of those in Langford where work began on 33 single-family homes and 151 apartments. Saanich saw plenty of activity as well, with 92 starts.
Lee Brougham said that strong growth trend is expected to continue through next year.

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#10 TheVisionary

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 01:45 AM

Condo boomerang

By Steve Weatherbe
Business Examiner editor
editor@businessexa
Aug 07 2006

Is the boom sustainable?

Are those condo towers that are bursting forth from vacant lots and unrolled blueprints-or is that a real estate cycle about to plunge precipitously?

"You have to ask whether Victoria has the capacity to absorb the hundreds of new condo units being built," says Jack Davis of Davis Realty, sounding doubtful. "It could. You never know."

Derrold Norgaard of KPMG Victoria thinks the signs of a downturn are showing, but he is quick to qualify: "I thought they were there a year ago too." Waiting lists for condos are shortening or gone in the outlying neighbourhoods of the capital region, where downtrends start. The American buyer, driven by post 9-11 stress, is driven no longer, in the absence of any follow up conflagrations, to buy a bolt hole in Victoria.

KPMG collague Sang Ly believes the downtown upscale market will hold, because the Alberta energy boom itself will hold. "Demand for oil and gas isn't going down anytime soon."

But low-end condos and starter homes are already skirting the market's ability to pay, he believes.

Glenda Turner, publisher of Real Estate Victoria, is picking up signals of a market that is "resetting" itself, but predicts a milder, gentler phenomenon than collapses of the '80s and '90s.

Evidence of the softening market is the jump in the number of price decreases being made by vendors-from five per issue to 30. "This happens when the prices get too high."

Turner admits she likes a slightly soft market because ads stay in longer and grow bigger as vendors' anxiety climbs. In the overheated market last summer the paper was down to 64 pages. Now it is at 100.

But over her quarter century in the business Turner has seen the market moderate. "We used to get spikes up and down. Now it doesn't drop. It falls back a little and picks up again."

Davis agrees the business is cyclical, but can't really think of a reason for demand to fall. "We're still getting a healthy percentage of buyers from Ontario and Alberta. Calgary is a place to go to make your fortune. Victoria is the place to spend it."

American interest in Victoria has tailed off but "It wasn't that significant. It was mainly waterfront property they wanted." And Davis's recent encounters with Chinese business people suggests that they will put a growing upward pressure on the housing market here. "They are looking longingly at our country. The Olympics will propel that to some degree. With the billions being spent on the Olympics and the millions who will see it in person or on TV, I don't see the market coming down for a while yet." In the short term, however, there is the potential for oversupply.

However, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Lee King reports that "the market is accepting the new supply" according to its monthly-collected data. The contributing factors, according to King: improved migration from elsewhere in Canada; strong employment growth (Victoria's job rate lags only Edmonton and Calgary's in Canada); continued low and affordable interest rates; all adding up to "very strong consumer confidence" in British Columbia, as reported by the Conference Board of Canada.

Grant Evans of Colliers International only sells commercial space, but reports the hot condo market is impacting on his turf by causing "C" grade office space like the old Ministry of Forests building on the 1600 block of Government Street building to be converted to condos.

The result: more pressure on "B" and "A" buildings, which are already being squeezed by new businesses and quiet provincial government expansion.

The commercial market, chilled by Liberal government downsizing in its first term, turned the corner for the better half a year ago, says Evans. It will be several years, however, before it has progressed to the point of squeezing up a new office building downtown.

"Nobody is going to be able to get financing for commercial space until there is 50-per-cent pre-occupancy."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I hope the condo housing boom will continue for a long time. How can I dumped mother's apt. building for opportunities elsewhere if the housing market dries up? I may have to actually invest money into this neighbourhood if I get locked in. My salvation lies in the ability of the market to keep warm and developers marching around with lots of money.

We had a chance to buy a nice house in the Tolmie area next to UVic/Camosun College in 1990. Mother's nearsighted intransigence lost us massive gains. She just ignores eveything I say with dire consequences. It was $133000, now worth about $500000. That's a $360000 lost due to inaction which I foreseen.

Oh god, will somebody please shoot me now and put me out of my misery? Why does fate torture me so?

#11 zoomer

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 02:11 AM

Welcome to the forum, TheVisionary! Interesting to hear a different voice so to speak!

Although I'm tempted to ask you Mr. Bates...just how is Mother..? ;)



#12 Scaper

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 02:18 AM

That's awful!!! hahhahaha

#13 TheVisionary

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 01:05 AM

Welcome to the forum, TheVisionary! Interesting to hear a different voice so to speak!

Although I'm tempted to ask you Mr. Bates...just how is Mother..? ;)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I remember that picture from Psycho. Poor Norman Bates, he's even worst off than Cliff Claven the mailman from Cheers, or George Castanza from Seinfeld tv show. Cliff and George merely lived at home with mom and dad, Bates had to bump mom off. :evil:

#14 zoomer

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 01:20 AM

Well, just you don't go going bumping off your Mother, TheVisionary! ;)

I think you need to post a picture of Mother to reassure us she's ok! Ah, the impatience of youth..

Much of the impatience and rebellion and cynicism of youth spring from a failure to understand that such concepts as Truth and Happiness cannot be grasped by the intellect. They can only be reached (if ever) by trial and error, by blocking out more and more areas of the map until only a small portion is left unshaded.

This is a laborious and painful process. It is much easier to seize a partial truth and take it for the whole truth. But there can be no short cut to personal exploration; even the truths of religious belief must come from deep emotional experience, not merely from a blind clinging to custom.

This wisdom of elderly people is infuriating to the young, because it is almost always negative - as it has to be. They know that money leads neither to truth nor to happiness; they know that sensual pleasures, as a goal, are vain and empty; they know that fame and honor and all the food of the ego provide no lasting nourishment for the spirit.

They have taken wrong roads and blind alleys; and while they cannot tell you where to go, they can tell you where not to go. But, of course, we will not listen; for each person not his own private map which he must block out for himself, at whatever cost.

The most we can do is continue to collect non-answers, as the scientist keeps making experiment after experiment to rule out the wrong combinations. And we must persist, for, contrary to that diabolical proverb, it is the road to Heaven that is paved with good intentions.

Sydney J. Harris (1917 - 1986)



and yes, to remain on topic...I believe the condo boom will not bust, but slow...perhaps slow meaning all those towers proposed in the Western communities will not be built, and developers will still focus on the core where most condo buyers want to live if affordable prices can be offered to the average income earner. As you can see, that's a big if...only time will tell.

#15 Holden West

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 08:12 AM

WHAT'S THAT HISSING SOUND?
The frenzy that has characterized the Vancouver real estate market since 2004 had the owners of [url=http://images.theglobeandmail.com/v5/images/newspaper/20061113/sectionB-490.jpg?d=20061113:d13d9]this house[/url:d13d9] believing their property would sell in days. It hasn't. And now some are saying the air is leaking out of an overinflated market

The Globe and Mail

WENDY STUECK
POSTED ON 13/11/06

VANCOUVER -- When Stephen Webber and his wife put their Vancouver-area townhouse up for sale in September, they expected to close a deal within a month.

After several open houses, nearly a dozen private showings and two price cuts, they're still waiting.

"We have been surprised by the lack of activity," Mr. Webber says. "It seems there is a lot of supply out there. Buyers have more choices. There is not that rush. And there might be hesitation because of what's going on in the States."

If buyers are not rushing, it may be because they don't have to. The frenzy that characterized the Vancouver housing market since 2004 is disappearing, replaced by one in which buyers have more than mere hours to make a decision. Instead of multiple offers, bidding wars and homes being snapped up virtually overnight, the current market is characterized by growing number of listings, a slower rate of price increases and even price cuts.

Nobody is talking about a crash. Limited land supply, population growth, the 2010 Winter Olympics and a strong regional economy all point to long-term healthy housing demand. But there is a sense the air is leaking out of what had become an overinflated market.

"On the Labour Day weekend, I sold a house in Shaughnessy for $300,000 over listing [price] with 10 offers," Macdonald Realtors agent Lorne Goldman says.

"Those days are becoming less frequent."

Some sellers are having to reduce their asking price, Mr. Goldman says, especially if they're fixated on the spectacular returns that defined this market for the past couple of years.

"Up until a month or so ago, most product would sell relatively quickly, in a week or two," says Marty Pospischil of Dexter Associates Realty. "Now it's not uncommon to have something listed for a month or longer."

Over the past two months, 15 per cent of sellers have reduced the price of their homes in order to spur a sale, compared with roughly 2 per cent of sellers earlier in the year, says Vic Jang of Sutton West Coast Realty. But the biggest difference he sees is in timing. This summer, clients who waited more than 24 hours to make an offer might find their desired home had already been purchased.

"Now, it's a lot more of 'Remember that place you saw 10 days ago? Well, it's still there, do you want to see it again?' " Mr. Jang says.

The slowdown could also affect speculative activity, as a slower rate of price growth could make it more difficult to buy, renovate and sell homes for a fat return, Mr. Jang says.

But anybody hoping that prices may come back within reach for first-time buyers is likely to be disappointed. Slowdown or no, Vancouver real estate remains too expensive for many. A search for a single-family, detached home under $600,000 on Vancouver's west side yields three listings, all on land leased from the Musqueam Indian Band. (A fight over lease rates between leaseholders and the band in the 1990s led to a court case and a plunge in market value for homes on band land.) A heritage home in Mount Pleasant is listed at $799,000, despite having suffered a fire last year.

"Affordability is a big issue in Vancouver. And affordability is likely getting worse at a [September] rate of increase of nearly 17 per cent. Because there's very little chance that the income growth will grow at the same rate," says Craig Alexander, deputy chief economist with TD Economics.

Mr. Alexander, who put Vancouver on a "housing bubble watch" in an August report, says current trends show the market is responding to supply and demand, something he sees as healthy. In a bubble scenario, prices keep climbing at the same rate even as supply grows, he says.

He anticipates the rate of price increases will continue to slow.

"Twelve months from now, I would bet that home price growth in Vancouver would be in the single digits. That's not a terrible outcome, that's a healthy income."

Rick Valouche, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, says the market is becoming more balanced. And this year's total sales are on track to surpass last year's record total, he says.

Some buyers might be sitting on their hands as they assess whether wobbles in the U.S. housing market will affect Vancouver, says Bob Rennie, whose Rennie Marketing Systems sells Lower Mainland condominiums like proverbial hotcakes. U.S. housing prices took their biggest drop in 35 years in September.

But after a few months, those buyers will be back in, Mr. Rennie predicts, driven by factors that include the coming the 2010 Olympics, a shortage of land and the perception of Vancouver as a safe place to invest.

Mr. Rennie is currently selling what he says is the most expensive real estate in Canada: the Fairmont Pacific Estates on the downtown waterfront, where water-facing units are going for about $2,000 a square foot and unit prices range from $1-million to $4.5-million.

His firm also recently sold 40 per cent of the units in a new Burnaby high-rise over a weekend.

"If that's slow, we'll take it all day long," he says.

Mr. Webber, who works in commercial real estate, is confident he'll sell his house, a nearly new, three-bedroom detached townhouse in waterfront Steveston. And he doesn't sound overly dismayed that he's had to drop the price from an original $679,000 to $659,900, which is still well above what he paid three years ago. He says his home is in a popular neighbourhood, "shows well" in real estate jargon and garners compliments from everyone who walks in the door.

"Every weekend we seem to have someone through the open houses who is really interested, who says 'you'll be hearing from us,' " says Mr. Webber, who's already purchased a bigger home in another part of the city. "But nothing has happened."
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#16 TheVisionary

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 12:08 AM

Yes, I'd like to buy a big fancy house with a swimming pool with well $$$$ heeled neighbours and everyone is Happy, Shiny, Outwardly OK people. Howver, I won't be able to get such a high class house, classy neighbourhood without $500000-1000000+ dollars. That leaves only $175000-375000 condos as the only viable choice of home ownership.

Even so, I would never buy a downtown condo because the land value in the centre is really high and the transients/druggies are just outside your front door. Everything smells like garbage and urine outside your building. Oh, don't forget the syringes in the plants in front of buildings downtown.

#17 Holden West

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 12:17 AM

Oh, how you must dread mingling with the commoners.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#18 gumgum

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 08:12 AM

I've got news for you V.
There are trashy, screwy, psychotic people across all class lines.
A) It astounds me how incredibly naive you are.

B) It's amazing that you think people actually care about your drive to "status".

C) The picture you paint of d/t (which is rediculously inaccurate) shows us that you couldn't give a shit about d/t. So, being that the core is a central theme on this forum - why are you here then?

#19 TheVisionary

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 03:50 PM

Oh, I'm not naive, I fully understand that there are pyschopaths across all socio-economic boundaries. It's that the "higher up psychos" don't blatantly display their psychosis like dirty laundry for all to see. The higher up psychos at least appear a semblance of normality until they "explode" into the news events of the moment.

Just because someone may go "postal" doesn't mean I want to be constantly reminded of it up front.

#20 Mike K.

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 08:13 PM

Oh, I'm not naive, I fully understand that there are pyschopaths across all socio-economic boundaries. It's that the "higher up psychos" don't blatantly display their psychosis like dirty laundry for all to see. The higher up psychos at least appear a semblance of normality until they "explode" into the news events of the moment.

Just because someone may go "postal" doesn't mean I want to be constantly reminded of it up front.


I'll have to introduce you to some of these "higher-up psychos." Believe me, the ones with loads of money are one of a kind... :wink:

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