Archive for January, 2012

Toronto’s real estate market is “the hottest” in the country

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Toronto “is starting to stand out as the hottest real estate market right now,” following the release of December sales figures, BMO Nesbitt Burns economist Robert Kavcic says.

However, that may be somewhat of a booby prize, as the Canadian market, following a 13-year boom, is cooling overall – and Toronto is expected to follow suit, he added.

The Toronto Real Estate Board said Thursday that Greater Toronto real estate agents reported 4,718 sales in December, up 10.1 per cent from the same period in 2010. The average selling price was $451,436, up 4 per cent year over year.

That capped off the second-best year on record under the board’s current boundaries, dating to 1994. “Low borrowing costs kept buyers confident in their ability to comfortably cover their mortgage payments along with other major housing costs,” board president Richard Silver said in a release. The board said buyers were held back by a shortage of listings, while tight market conditions kept upward pressure on selling prices.

It’s a different story for Vancouver’s real estate market, where the number of residential sales in December tumbled by 12.7 per cent over the same period a year earlier, according to figures released this week by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Sales for 2011 were 5.9 per cent above 2010 levels but 9.2 per cent below 2009. The overall residential benchmark price, as measured by the MLSLink Housing Price Index, has also dropped by 1.5 per cent since June.

Earlier this week, TD senior economist Jacques Marcil predicted both B.C. and Ontario could face challenging housing markets over the next two years.

Mr. Kavcic said the ratio of sales to new listings in Toronto and throughout Ontario “is pretty much in line with historical norms,” but noted that the number of starts for new multiple-unit dwellings (largely condos) in Ontario over the past 12 months had outpaced single family homes by a factor of 1.5 to 1, up from a ratio of close to 1 to 1 over the past decade and “pretty well the largest discrepancy we’ve seen in a long time.”

As a result, “to the extent where there is downward pressure on prices, the condo market is more at risk” in Toronto, he said.

Merrill Lynch warned last month that housing prices could correct by as much as 10 per cent in the next two years in Canada because of weakness in the economy, expressing particular concern about Toronto’s condo market. The Bank of Canada also warned the Toronto market looks overbuilt and could see prices drop.

Source: Sean Silcoff, Globe and Mail

How to work out a property’s assessment value

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

It’s BC home assessment time again!

The easiest way to see what value your home has been assessed at for 2012 is to click on this link,, and enter your address.

In a nutshell, North Vancouver home prices went up. Lions Bay and Squamish prices down. Vancouver, West Vancouver went way up. Whistler went way down.

When Metro Vancouver and regional property owners receive their 2012 assessment notices in the mail over the next few days, they’ll see a wide variation in values by region, city and neighbourhood.

The Sea to Sky region, for example, will see assessments generally down, with Squamish homeowners’ property values dropping up to 10 per cent in some areas and rising five per cent in others, according to BC Assessment. The valuation date was July 1, 2011.

In Whistler and Pemberton, some property owners will see decreases in values up to 15 per cent.

In comparison, North Vancouver home assessments have risen five to 15 per cent, while West Vancouver property owners will see significant increases in the 15-to-30-per-cent range.

Vancouver’s 192,000 property owners can also expect big hikes.

“Almost all homes in [the city of Vancouver] are increasing in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said area assessor Jason Grant in a statement. “Most single family homeowners in Vancouver will see significant increases, in the 10 per cent to 25 per cent range. Strata condominium owners will also see increases, but typically less than 10 per cent.”

Property owners in Richmond and Burnaby will also see sharp increases in assessments.

Paul Borgo, deputy assessor with the Vancouver Sea to Sky region, said in an interview that while it’s not unusual to see wide variations in value by region, city or even neighbourhood, “the city of Vancouver has been quite robust in 2011. However, the west side outperformed the east side in single family terms. And West Vancouver also has a very strong market.”

Rosario Setticasi, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, agreed, citing Vancouver’s west side, West Vancouver and Richmond as markets that performed better than others. “They’re favoured areas for people to live in [and] there was some influence from foreign investment.”

Setticasi also noted the assessments reflect values on July 1. “We had a surge in the beginning of [2011], it peaked in the summer, and came down a bit in the second half of the year, which won’t be reflected in the assessment.”

Robyn Adamache, senior market analyst for Metro Vancouver, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said she is not surprised at the variation in assessment values given the fundamentals of the region’s real estate market in 2011. “There were wide variations in growth in home prices in different municipalities, so I would expect more variation than usual.”

Overall, Vancouver’s assessment roll increased from $222 billion last year to $254 billion this year, while West Vancouver’s assessment roll increased from $26.4 billion last year to more than $30.2 billion this year.

But Squamish’s assessment roll declined from $3.92 billion last year to $3.81 billion.

An example of local market trends, according to BC Assessment, is a single family home in Squamish’s Garibaldi Highlands neighbourhood which will see its assessment drop from $531,000 to $497,000, while another home in Whistler’s Alpine Meadows neighbourhood will see its assessed value drop from $964,000 to $918,000.

However, a home on a 50-foot lot on Vancouver’s west side will see its value rise from $1.19 million to $1.645 million, while another east Vancouver detached home on a 33-foot lot will rise from $816,000 to $1.03 million.

In West Vancouver’s tony British Properties, an example of the trend to higher prices is a home that will rise from $1.53 million to $2.2 million.

In the Fraser Valley, property owners will see little change in values this year.

“Most homes in the Fraser Valley have remained stable in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said deputy assessor John Green.

On a percentage basis, the total change for all residential property types was up 7.9 per cent in Surrey, 16.4 per cent in Vancouver, 16.5 per cent in Richmond, 5.2 per cent in New Westminster, 12.2 per cent in Burnaby, 6.9 per cent in Coquitlam, 5.1 per cent in North Vancouver city, 7.6 per cent in North Vancouver district, 15.9 per cent in West Vancouver, but down 1.9 per cent in Squamish, five per cent in Lions Bay, 6.2 per cent in Whistler and 3.2 per cent in Sechelt.

Pat Kelly, owner of Whistler Real Estate Company, said the resort municipality saw a drop in sales both before and after the 2010 Olympics, although the market has picked up since summer.

“There was a volatile world economic situation [and] people were looking for value for their money, things they need as against things they want.”

He said that while activity picked up in late 2011, prices haven’t reflected that because most activity is in the under-$1 million market.

He also noted that there has been a “noticeable” drop in buyers from the U.S.

Kelly, whose company is also involved in the Squamish market, said Squamish prices have flatlined, partly because there’s no major employer in the town.

“Squamish hasn’t had the same appeal as other suburban markets, and I don’t know why. It’s very good value for an area within 40 minutes of downtown Vancouver.”

Assessments were generally stable or down in other parts of the province, including Penticton and Kelowna, which saw a drop of 2.7 per cent in the total value of all residential properties.

The total number of B.C. properties on the 2012 roll is 1,917,394, a 0.75-per-cent increase from 2011.

The total value of real estate on the 2012 roll is $1.1 trillion, a 6.42-per-cent increase from 2011.

Source: Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver set for a 5% house price increase

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Canada’s resale housing market tightened slightly in November, as sales rose in more than 50 per cent of markets while the number of listings declined, the Conference Board of Canada said Tuesday.

Sales rose in 16 of the 28 markets the board tracks for its metro resale index, with seven of those markets posing a gain of more than five per cent over October’s number. Year-over-year sales rose in 15 areas, down from October, when 20 of the urban areas posted sales growth over 2010.

“The supply of new listings fell in 23 of 28 markets in November, but still exceeded year-earlier levels in 20 jurisdictions,” the board said. “An easing in supply of listings, combined with slightly weaker sales gains, lifted the sales-to-listings ratio in November in 23 markets. This left four areas as ‘sellers’ markets, while 21 remain ‘balanced’.”

The drop in listings resulted in higher prices in 17 areas month-over-month, while the year-over-year price was higher in 19 — with 16 markets recording growth of four per cent or more.

The Conference Board predicts all but three of the 28 markets it tracks for the index will see some increase in housing prices in the short term — the Ontario cities of Oshawa, London and Windsor being the exceptions.

Saskatoon and several Quebec markets — Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivieres and Saguenay — are expected to see the biggest increases in housing prices in the near term, the board said, predicting a seven per cent year-over-year gain.

A five per cent gain appears to be in the cards for Victoria, Vancouver, B.C.’s Fraser Valley, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Halifax and Newfoundland, the board said. It expects housing prices to rise three per cent in Saint John, as well as the Ontario centres of Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, Kingston and Ottawa.

Source: Financial Post

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