Blog by Mark Longpre

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Vancouver real estate hot; not yet overheating

VANCOUVER - Metro Vancouver’s real estate market warmed up considerably at the end of 2009, but likely won’t overheat as 2010 progresses, new data released Friday by the Conference Board of Canada suggests.

While Metro Vancouver home sales in December tracked a pace that was nearly three times higher than sales last January, board senior economist Robin Wiebe said new listings also rose keeping the overall market in balance.

“Though [the market] is closing on the top of the balanced range, buyers are provided with a reasonable choice as the go out searching for homes,” Wiebe said in an interview.

However, Wiebe added that “it wouldn’t take much to tip [the market] over into seller’s territory.”

That is one factor that has the Conference Board putting Metro Vancouver on the list of cities it expects will see property prices rise between five and just under seven per cent along with Victoria, the Fraser Valley, Calgary, Regina, Ottawa and Halifax.

Edmonton, Saskatoon and Montreal are among the cities that the Conference Board expects will see price increases over seven per cent, with Winnipeg Toronto and Hamilton among cities that should see price increases between three and five per cent.

The Conference Board is estimating that no Canadian cities will see price decreases in 2010.

Wiebe said that the estimates are not based on a full economic forecast, but does reflect the recent strength of sales and prices in Metro Vancouver compared with longer-term averages for sales and price performance.

“We’ve seen average prices[in December] up 11.9 per cent from a year ago [to $655,234], [and] the pace of price increases is accelerating a little bit.”

The Conference Board’s examination of sales figures took December’s sales and estimated that if home sales continued at the same pace, Metro Vancouver would see 50,016 homes sold over 12 months compared with a 12-month pace of just 18,138 based on December 2008’s results.

However, calculating the same figure for December’s new listings shows that Metro sellers were on pace to list 73,938 homes for sale over 12 months compared with a pace of 54,306 new listings based on December 2008’s results.

The resulting ratio of sales to new listings of .72, or 72 per cent, Wiebe said, places Metro Vancouver close to the top of the range that the Conference Board considers a market that is balanced between buyers and sellers. That range is between the sales-to-new-listings ratios of 44 per cent and 75 per cent.