One challenge in planning your move to Canada is working out house prices.
Five of Canada’s largest real estate boards – Calgary, Fraser Valley, Montreal, Toronto and Greater Vancouver –and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) are partnering to develop a national housing price index. It’s scheduled to launch at the end of January 2012.
In Vancouver and the Fraser Valley we are used to using benchmark prices from the MLS®Link Housing Price Index. Not surprising as it was the first of its kind in Canada, dating back to 1995.
The new MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) will extend our ability to compare prices to the participating markets.
The new HPI will be looking at four categories of property:
one-storey single-family homes
two-storey single-family homes
The benchmark is a better measure of prices over time because it uses concrete attributes, like number of rooms, and qualitative ones, such as a finished basement. Price changes calculated using this method are less volatile compared to those calculated using average or median prices, which can swing dramatically in response to changes in the proportion of high-end or low-end sales over time.
The HPI will also allow for the identification of benchmark homes, with a set of quantitative and qualitative attributes that do not change over time. This allows for an apples-to-apples comparison of price over time.
All that means that if you are looking at different destinations in Canada you will be able to compare prices for similar benchmark properties.
The statistics for March in the Lower Mainland are now available. Overall the market has been very busy, but the devil is in the details.
In the Fraser Valley sales were at a 5 year high, but the flurry of activity varied by area. “For example, sales of single family detached homes in White Rock/South Surrey increased by over 150 per cent in March compared to last year, however in Abbotsford they were down by almost 7 per cent. The property type that saw the largest increase in sales in Abbotsford during the month of March was condominiums.” according to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
In Vancouver the activity level was also high, and according to the Real Estate Board of Vancouver “Conditions favour sellers at the moment, but we’re seeing differences in home-price trends and overall activity depending on the region and property type.”
Below I have set out the benchmark prices from both the Vancouver and Fraser Valley Real Estate boards. The figures in brackets show the percentage increase over March of 2010. You will see that rises of 8% across Vancouver mask the range from the 24% rise in Richmond to the -4.7% in Squamish.
Vancouver Real Estate Board
Greater Vancouver $866,806 (8.3%)
Burnaby $882,731 (9.8%)
Coquitlam $697,414 (2.1%)
South Delta $705,785 (6.2%)
Maple Ridge $459,554 (0.4%)
New Westminster $603,801 (-0.7%)
North Vancouver $922,764 (-0.5%)
Pitt Meadows $539,858 (3.2%)
Port Coquitlam $547,947 (1.8%)
Port Moody $709,706 (20.5%)
Richmond $1,119,441 (24.5%)
Squamish $493,572 (-4.7%)
Sunshine Coast $441,497 (8.3%)
Vancouver East $806,231 (9.8%)
Vancouver West $1,914,639 (15.5%)
West Vancouver $1,526,596 (6%)
Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
The Fraser Valley also shows variation in price increases with Abbotsford leading the pack at 9.9% and Langley trailing at -4%.
Abbotsford $432,000 (9.9%)
Mission $342,482 (-2.6%)
White Rock / South Surrey $796,434 (3.6%)
Langley $517,506 (-4%)
Delta – North $523,227 (1.4%)
Surrey – Central $540,718 (1.8%)
Surrey – Cloverdale $553,320 (-1.2%)
Surrey – North $501,907 (7.5%)
Victoria Real Estate Board
Our partners in the Victoria region tell me that the market there has also been active, though not as active as the same period last year. Again be wary of the overall figures that are shown below since specific areas may well vary a great deal.
For more specific information on the areas of interest to you, get in touch. I can get details from our partners in most areas of British Columbia.
Victoria is our capital and is a popular destination for those thinking of moving to Vancouver Island since it is the major city on the island and therefore offers the best employment opportunities.
The house prices in the Greater Victoria area over the last month are shown below. Prices are median ones, which generally gives the best indication of typical house prices:
Central Saanich $525,000
North Saanich $783,750
Oak Bay $684,500
Saanich East $576,500
Saanich West $531,000
Victoria West $464,250
View Royal $616,250
Waterfront (all districts) $1,412,500
Total Greater Victoria $530,000
The number of property sales throughout Greater Victoria rose in November. Prices, meantime, remained mixed with gains for condominiums but some declines for single family homes and townhomes. A total of 479 homes and other properties sold in November through the Victoria Real Estate Board’s Multiple listing Service® (MLS®), up slightly from the 467 sales in October. There were 604 sales in November of last year.
The number of sales has now risen for two consecutive months. The further increase in sales in November adds more weight to our belief that the market has now returned to a stable, balanced state. With declining inventories, some further increase in sales can be expected next year while prices will likely remain stable. There were 3,723 properties available for sale at the end of November – a decline of some 300 properties compared to October though still 25 per cent higher than a year ago.
The median price for single-family homes sold in Greater Victoria last month declined to $530,000. There were 20 single family home sales of over $1 million in November including one sale in Oak Bay of over $5 million. There were 12 sales of over $1 million in October. The median price for condominiums in November rose to $290,000. The median price of all townhomes sold last month declined to $395,000.
MLS® sales last month included 264 single family homes, 123 condominiums, 47 townhomes and 17 manufactured homes.
Want more information? Get in touch and we or our partners in the area will let you have up to date information.
I was amused by reading that Bowen Island, the beautiful island just minutes from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, is thinking about introducing a ban on objectionable noise on Sunday’s. This would limit noise from construction sites and major equipment. I understand that the traditional Sunday noises of lawn mowers and weed whackers would still be allowed.
Bowen already has bylaws that restrict noise to 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends. These proposed new measures are aimed to keep Bowen a peaceful haven, away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Vancouver.
Now it happens that one of our daughters was at a party on Bowen on Friday night. She tells me that the police turned up at the party. Not because the party was getting out of hand but because the police were bored. In her words “there was nothing going on in the rest of Bowen”.
You might have to stretch your imagination for this but the cops stayed for an hour. They chatted with the party goers, though they did not drink with them. They only asked that their pictures not be uploaded to facebook! That’s modern policing.
I felt that the cops did a god job because one reason for their extended stay was that they got involved in a competition between their breathalyzer and a store-bought one that one of the party goers had. They seemed happy enough to help with testing the accuracy of the store-bought gizmo. Their public service proved that the store-bought gizmo was not all that accurate.
When they left the cops wished the birthday girl a happy birthday – over the tannoy on their cruiser! (Quietly of course – this is Bowen).
This week we took a break on Vancouver Island and had a chance to tour around outside of Vancouver – BC’s biggest city. We were in Victoria and then went out to Tofino and Ucluelet. That gave us three different places to compare.
You would not usually think of Victoria, our capital city, as a small town, but it feels like that sometimes. This comes from a number of things. Victoria is an accessible city. It is easy to get around. The people are friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed.
We went to Tofino and Ucluelet. These towns are small, though popular destinations for surfers, kayakers and those who want to chill on the beaches. Like other tourists we enjoyed the character of the place and wondered what made this place so popular.
The thing that we noticed was that there were virtually no chain stores in these little towns. Every place had a character of its own, some very odd! There are souvenir shops, selling art ranging from native to naff. But there were no KFC’s or Burger Kings or golden arches.
So, thinking back to Victoria, it was the character of its little shops, restaurants and coffee bars that adds to its small town feel. That too is something we appreciate about our home in Vancouver – the small neighbourhood places that give the place character. We are going to make sure we support them wherever we find them.