What is currently happening to the Metro Vancouver housing market?

What do you have when house values dip slightly and sales remain below historical averages?

You have “balanced” market conditions, according to the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver real estate boards.

The boards reported Wednesday that Multiple Listing Service sales in June declined from May levels and sales for the first half of 2013 have fallen significantly below last year’s activity.

Greater Vancouver MLS sales during the first six months of this year fell 9.1 per cent from last year to 13,646 while Fraser Valley sales dropped 15.7 per cent to 6,714.

Greater Vancouver sales dropped to 2,642 last month from 2,882 in May while Fraser Valley sales dipped to 1,327 in June from 1,379 in May.

“We’d be concerned if we had a lot of new listings coming onto the market but that isn’t happening,” Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver president-elect Ray Harris said in an interview. “As long as the number of buyers and sellers remains fairly constant, we don’t really have any fear and conditions should remain balanced.”

The total number of Greater Vancouver MLS listings has fallen six per cent in the past year to 17,289. Fraser Valley listings have declined one per cent in the past year to 10,515.

The benchmark price for all Greater Vancouver residential properties sits at $601,900 — a three-per-cent decline from a year ago but a 2.3-per-cent increase from January.

The benchmark price for a Fraser Valley single family home has risen 0.2 per cent in the past year to $552,200 but the benchmark price for townhouses in the region has fallen 2.1 per cent in the past 12 months to $298,700.

There are a few local “bright spots” in the market that are performing well in spite of mediocre conditions elsewhere, said Fraser Valley board president Ron Todson.

He said Langley has a sales-to-listings ratio of 26 per cent, which approaches sellers’ market conditions.

Realtors say balanced market conditions exist when the sales-to-listings ratio ranges from 15 to 25 per cent. Anything below 15 per cent is considered a buyers’ market.

“Things can vary significantly from one local market to another as different factors come together,” Todson said. “I know of some Walnut Grove properties (in Langley) that are selling after being on the market for just five days.”

He said Langley, in particular, is benefiting from the new Port Mann Bridge and better bus service that has improved the commute to Vancouver.

Harris noted single-family home sales in Richmond rose to 115 from 76 a year ago while single-family sales on the west side of Vancouver jumped to 146 from 102 in June of 2012.

He said both sales totals remain below historical averages but are improving as the sales-to-listings ratio — which dipped below 14 per cent in Greater Vancouver early this year – remains steady at 15 per cent.

“We saw price declines in the second half of last year but have gained a lot of that back this year,” Harris said.

Source: Bruce Constantineau, Vancouver Sun

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