Good news for homebuyers as Vancouver home sales hit a 10-year low

Greater Vancouver housing sales hit a 10-year low in May, dragged down by plunging sales of high-priced homes in West Vancouver, Richmond, and on Vancouver’s pricey west side.

May sales figures show that detached-home sales fell 59 per cent in West Vancouver, 46 per cent on the west side of Vancouver, and 25 per cent in Richmond.

Overall sales of detached homes, townhouses and condos fell 15 per cent compared to 2011, making this the bleakest real-estate May since 2001.

Eugen Klein, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said the year-to-year comparisons in areas such as West Vancouver follow a frantic spring market in 2011 marked by bidding wars, multiple offers and homes selling well above the asking price.

“Last year we saw 228 detached homes sell in May on the west side of Vancouver – this year we’re looking at 115,” Klein told The Province. “Last year, there were pockets of heavy activity.”

Klein explained the drop followed a hot market in 2011, fuelled by prices that had continued to climb quickly year after year — a cycle Klein said had to end at some point.

“It’s a reality of the market – you can’t have double-digit increases forever,” he said. “We’re not seeing the large offers, and the multiple offers. Whether it’s foreign policy, I don’t know. It’s a stabilizing period.”

Klein puts a positive spin on the negative numbers, saying fewer sales and more listings mean that buyers can look around and haggle over price.

“People are talking all the time about affordability,” he said. “There’s more room to negotiate with sellers. That’s when you have better affordability.”

The overall 15-per-cent decline from May 2011 to May 2012 was nearly across the board — with a few notable exceptions, especially in (relatively) lower-priced regions where value and affordability are far better than the westernmost areas.

From May 2011 to May 2012, the following areas swam against the stream, showing increased sales:

* Detached homes: Whistler, Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, and Port Moody/Belcarra

* Apartments: Coquitlam, New Westminster, North Vancouver

* Townhomes: North Vancouver and Port Moody/Belcarra

The extensive REBGV study found overall that prices for all categories of homes were up 3.3 per cent, with each group having substantially different results:

* Detached-home sales fell 25 per cent, while detached-home prices rose 5 per cent.

* Apartment sales fell 6 per cent, with prices increasing 1.7 per cent.

* Townhouse sales fell 10 per cent, with townhouse prices falling 5.3 per cent.

Source: Ian Austin, The Province

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