August sales down, inventory up.

This story in the Vancouver Sun has some stats on the real estate sales figures for the lower mainland in August 2006. This is the fourth straight month of growing MLS listings. August saw a drop of 17.8 percent in sales overall, but the sale of single family homes were hit hardest with a drop of over 25%. Prices were still up in August, with the average single-family home price reaching $649,042, but with increasing inventory competing for fewer buyers there is a concern that property values are vulnerable to price drops as noted in a recent TD Bank bubble-watch report.

Helmut Pastrick, the chief economist for Credit Union Central B.C., expects that as long as the economy stays strong there won’t be any significant downturn:

Pastrick started sensing a slowdown in sales last fall related directly to the inching up of mortgage rates, which “hasn’t been . . . precipitous, but has been fairly steady.

“This is more an affordability-driven sales decline . . . but not enough [of a decline] to really trigger a significant downturn.”

Pastrick does foresee fewer first-time and low-equity buyers entering the market.

I wonder what will happen to prices if we were to remove demand from first-time and low-equity buyers? It looks like thats starting to happen now, the next year or so should be interesting.

Dave Rishel, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, said August sales were still at high levels, and the drop does not represent “quote, ‘the beginning of the bursting of the bubble.’ “

The increase in listings, Rishel added, should give buyers more selection and more time to rationally contemplate purchases.

“I think we are all in agreement that there will be adjustments in the market,” Rishel said. “We’d be fooling everybody to say that there will be a steady cycle all the way up to wherever. We all anticipate these slowdowns from time to time, but [overall] I don’t envision anything radical.”

Selling in Vancouver – Good, Bad & Ugly

Are you looking to sell a condo, house or townhouse in vancouver? With lots of stories in the news about housing market crashes across the US, recession fears & slow sales in the lower mainland for July and August here are some quick good, bad and ugly points about selling your property:

THE GOOD:

Vancouver is still a very desireable place to live – there are still lots of people that would like to buy your home.

THE BAD:

They can only afford about half your current asking price.

THE UGLY:

Highest new housing starts in recorded history for July, thousands of new condo units coming up in 2006 & 07, imigration flat, high debt level and low incomes, interest rates rising, prices on new units dropping to move inventory.

True tales of Real Estate fraud.

A depressing tale courtesy of the Toronto Star about a man who had his rental property sold out from under him by identity thieves. Apparently title fraud is on the increase creating problems for both owners and the buyers who assume they are dealing with the true owner of a property.

Friday free-for-all

Ok, here it is – the random catch all non-topic. Post any comments you have about the vancouver housing market, predictions for the future, rediculous MLS listings, news story oddities or anything to do with housing, bubbles, wealth or what-have-you.

Keep it reasonably clean and civilized or suffer a lawsuit at the hands of some random condo marketing corporation.

A Critique of Vancouver’s ‘Downtown Plan’

This long but well written critique of Vancouver’s Downtown Planning in Canadian Architect is well worth the read. Writer Trevor Boddy comments on Vancouvers habit of replacing office space in the downtown core with condo’s and mentions the alarming fact that one third of Vancouver’s head-office jobs have left Vancouver in the last six years while Calgary has seen an increase of 64 percent. Are we forgetting about jobs in the midst of our condo mania?

“A revealing example is the fate of Rhone and Iredale’s 1969 West Coast Transmission Tower on Georgia Street, recipient of many engineering awards for its Bogue Babicki and Associates-designed cable-hung forms, converted recently into condos and renamed “The Qube.” Many more of downtown’s dwindling stock of towers would have met the same fate, had City Council not slapped a moratorium on such conversions last year. Although hard to grasp for many planners–especially Americans or Canadians in slow-growth cities–too much housing may be killing peninsular downtown Vancouver, especially the mono-form, mono-class, crank-the-handle towers of recent years.”

and what article mentioning condos in Vancouver would be complete without Bob Rennie?

“..Leading this trend is the extremely influential and political condo super-marketer Bob Rennie-topping Vancouver magazine’s 2005 list of most influential Vancouverites. As a society we may come to regret a scene in which 15 percent of the cost of new housing goes to marketing, but only five percent goes to all design fees. With the exception of a token condo tower by Arthur Erickson for Concord Pacific, Vancouver’s finest architects are largely conspicuous by their absence in the downtown boom.”

Boddy has lots of not-so-nice things to say about the state of architecture and design in Vancouver. He refers to the corner of Richards and Nelson streets as “a particularly bleak concentration of the Beasley-era architecture of Vancouverism”, but wraps his critique up with a postive note, well.. positive other than the ‘sharp recession’ bit.

“Vancouver will succeed–despite its resolutely lame mass media, the rewarding of its architectural bottom-feeders, its unsettling convergence of developers’ and planners’ pretensions–because of the depth of passion many of us invest in it. We have let the rhetoric of real estate supplant the craft and consciousness of city building, and a sharp recession is what will soon set things right. The bones of a great city are coming into place, and now we need time and public wisdom to put some flesh on it. Love-hate relationships are always signs of a love frustrated, and Vancouver is now ours to make or break.”

There are a lot of good points in this critique from an architectural point of view, ranging from design to planning to jobs – definately worth the read if you have the time.