A Growing Number Of British Columbians Think This Is A Good Time To Buy A Home

I found the article below on the Vancouver Sun’s website by Derrick Penner. The Kamloops real estate market has recently seen a bit of a pick up in the number of buyers actively looking for a home as well as the number of sales reported. I personally have seen an increase in the number of first time home buyers beginning to search. In the last few weeks there has been a few good days of reported sales from the Kamloops Real Estate Board, but we are still reporting sales down around the 2003 levels. Read the article below detailing the Ipsos Reid survey on the conditions of the real estate market in BC.

The poll found that some 71 per cent of respondents said it is a somewhat good or very good time to buy real estate. More people thinking about buying real estate, but majority say it’s not a good time to sell property. In November, only 60 per cent of respondents told Ipsos Reid it was a good time to buy. In the latest poll, 82 per cent said now is not a good time to sell a home. Hanson Lok, senior research manager at Ipsos Reid in Vancouver, said as market conditions improve for buyers, there also seems to be a growing number of British Columbians gathering on the sidelines to contemplate buying new homes.

Three in 10 respondents said they were considering a purchase in the next two years, up from 20 per cent when the same question was asked in November. “We are seeing a greater number of first-time home buyers in particular looking to take advantage of more affordable homes, incentives from the government and lower costs of borrowing,” Lok said in a news release. The new poll also found that British Columbians’ expectations for falling prices have been muted since November.

While the B.C. Real Estate Association has forecast price declines of 13 per cent in 2009 and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is predicting drops of around 10 per cent in Metro Vancouver, only 42 per cent of respondents to the recent Ipsos Reid poll said they expected prices to be lower 12 months from now. That is down from November, when 57 per cent said prices would be lower a year later.

Across the Lower Mainland, including Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, respondents’ expectations were for a further 2.3-per-cent decline in prices. Across the rest of B.C., respondents believe prices will drop another four per cent. Statistics Canada reported new-home price data for December showing that in Metro Vancouver, prices had fallen 2.3 per cent from the same month a year ago.

Vancouver’s price decline was the fourth steepest among cities on the downside of their cycles following Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton, which saw the steepest year-over-year drop of 8.2 per cent. Victoria’s decline in December was about three per cent from the same month a year ago. Nationally, the housing price index declined by one-tenth of a percentage point from November to December, which weighed on gains made in the measure over the year. The national HPI for December was up 0.4 per cent compared with the same month a year ago.

Economic Uncertainty Drives Real Estate Plunge Across Lower Mainland

I found this article on the Vancouver Sun’s website today. Provincially the real estate market is feeling the squeeze. The Sun reported that real estate sales are down 58% in the Lower Mainland. In Kamloops, the Kamloops and District Real Estate Association released it’s January statistics and our board is reporting 64% drop in residential sales for the month of January. Read below for the full story, it is focused more on the Lower Mainland, but keep in mind our market is not so different here in Kamloops. We are affected by some of the same economic factors that the Lower Mainland is affected by.

Home sales at lowest point since early 1980s, according to reports

Real estate sales across the Lower Mainland crawled along in January, real estate boards reported Tuesday, with consumers reluctant to buy during recessionary times and with expectations that prices will continue to decline.

In Metro Vancouver, Realtors recorded 762 Multiple-Listing-Service sales in January, down 58 per cent from the same month a year ago, and the so-called benchmark price for a typical detached home down 11 per cent to $659,638 compared with January of 2008.

In the Fraser Valley, Realtors booked a similar 59-per-cent decline in sales at 359, and the so-called benchmark for a typical single-family home down 9.6 per cent from the same month a year ago.

Both the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, which covers most of Metro except Surrey, and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, which takes in Surrey and White Rock, said sales were at levels not seen since the early 1980s.

“We’re seeing the same factors at play: uncertainty in people’s minds about where the economy is going and where their jobs are going,” Robyn Adamache, a market analyst with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said in an interview.

“As well, I think at lease some people are expecting further price reductions and perhaps are holding off on buying waiting for that to happen.”

The B.C. Real Estate Association on Monday released its latest forecast that predicted prices will decline 16 per cent in Metro Vancouver over 2009.

Adamache added that January is traditionally a slow sales month and not a month that can be used to gauge how the year will go, but “we’re sort of well below [sales levels] we’ve seen in previous Januarys.”

Both real estate boards also saw inventories of unsold homes decline in January. In Metro Vancouver, covered by the Greater Vancouver board, January new listings were down 30 per cent to 3,700, and current active listings of 13,966 are down 6,000 from October.

However, Adamache said that sales have slowed so much that the months of supply in unsold inventory has crept up to 11 months, the highest it has been in 10 years.

She added that the ratio of sales to new listings has dropped to a level that has not been seen since at least 1984, the first year for which she has records.

In the Fraser Valley, total inventory of unsold homes in January stood at 8,630 units, 26 per cent higher than January 2008, but 30 per cent lower than the record high inventory recorded last September.

Tsur Somerville, director of the centre for urban economics and real estate at the Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C., said it will be later in the year before we know how much the market is still declining, or whether there has been any stabilization.

The reason, Somerville said, is because the year-over-year comparison is with a month that had relatively high sales, and the dramatic drop-off in Vancouver’s markets did not begin until later in the year.

“I think we’re still declining just because the [sale decline] is 60 per cent versus 40 to 50 per cent,” Somerville said in an interview, “but we won’t get a sense of how much and at what rate until later.”

Dave Watt, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said the last 10 days of January did see realtor showings and sales pick up relative to the beginning of the month.

Watt said the buyers in the market are “back to looking for a home to purchase and are very much thinking long term.”

Financial Post Article: No Real Estate Crash Here?…

I found this article recently by the Financial Post and thought it was worth posting…..

I’ve been hearing a lot of soothing sounds of late coming from the real estate and construction industries. “All is well,” they seem to say. “Don’t panic,” they encourage.

Two days ago, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, a lobby group, insisted “there is absolutely no merit” in drawing a parallel between the U.S. real estate meltdown and the “cooling” market we are currently experiencing.

In mid-December, meanwhile, the Canadian Real Estate Association announced that national averages aren’t down as much as previously thought, and that it would be changing the methodology by which it calculates home prices, taking into greater account the rural homes that haven’t depreciated as quickly.

Taken at face value, these recent press releases might suggest that now was a great time to buy a house — a convenient conclusion for home builders and real estate agents.

But don’t you believe them. Maybe it’s appropriate that the CREA is changing its methodology to be more inclusive, but now seems to be an awfully convenient time to be doing so. And while it’s true that the Canadian housing boom was not propelled by the loose lending practices and low interest rates seen in the U.S., that doesn’t mean our boom was any less heated. In Canada, housing prices skyrocketed alongside a commodities boom that brought enormous wealth, in particular to western provinces.

So what do you suppose might happen when such a commodities boom crashes down to earth, as has happened over the last four months? If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the numbers below. They show six years of annual housing prices, leading up to their respective peaks, in the United States, as well as four Canadian cities. Also included are the most recent prices, to give you a sense of how far we’ve come down so far. Numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau and the CREA — before they decided to revise their methodology.

United States
March 2002 – US$227,600
March 2003 – US$233,100 (2.4%)
March 2004 – US$262,900 (15.5%)
March 2005 – US$288,500 (26.8%)
March 2006 – US$305,300 (34.1%)
March 2007 – US$322,100 (41.5%)

Vancouver
May 2003 – $319,783
May 2004 – $370,545 (15.9%)
May 2005 – $418,757 (31%)
May 2006 – $518,176 (62%)
May 2007 – $591,722 (85%)
May 2008 – $624,639 (95.3%)
Most recent – $510,465

Calgary
July 2002 – $196,472
July 2003 – $209,932 (6.9%)
July 2004 – $220,978 (12.5%)
July 2005 – $245,704 (25.1%)
July 2006 – $357,831 (82.1%)
July 2007 – $436,739 (122.3%)
Most recent – $384,243

Toronto
April 2003 – $292,783
April 2004 – $321,131 (9.7%)
April 2005 – $342,032 (16.8%)
April 2006 – $366,683 (25.2%)
April 2007 – $379,025 (29.5%)
April 2008 – $398,687 (36.2%)
Most recent – $368,582

Montreal
July 2003 – $190,402
July 2004 – $218,313 (14.7%)
July 2005 – $222,972 (17.1%)
July 2006 – $253,420 (33.1%)
July 2007 – $263,018 (38.1%)
July 2008 – $277,703 (45.9%)
Most recent – $263,734

The News Keeps Getting Better…

The Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate to the lowest point in history on Tuesday. Why?

“The outlook for the global economy has deteriorated since the bank’s December interest rate announcement, with the intensifying financial crisis spilling over into real economic activity,” the bank said in its gloomiest statement yet.

As a result, the dollar plunged to the 78-cent level. It’s now expected inflation will soon be less than zero – which, of course, isn’t inflation any more. It’s deflation. Geez, was it only six months ago economists were saying that was impossible?

On Tuesday Bell said it would dump 1,500 workers, Bank of America sliced 4,000 and stock market traders drove markets hundreds of points lower as they watched the spectacle in Washington and worried about the global banking system.

On Monday came word real estate sales in Toronto have crashed by 50% this month. Last week Nortel went chips up. On the weekend the US bailed out its big banks once again. On Monday Britain did the same – after the mighty Royal Bank of Scotland announced a stunning $41-billion loss. Only a matter of time now before the UK nationalizes its banks. Then Washington.

Last week the Vancouver Sun stated that “B.C. to lose more than 42,000 jobs in ’09” and the Province wrote “Office vacancies on the rise. There will be a crisis of confidence in the big markets”

However, Royal LePage did predict that housing values will fall 3% this year but price and activity gains are anticipated in some provinces. Hopefully they are right, all the job losses, business failures and economic uncertainty will definitely affect the the market, but 3% is much easier to take than other predictions I have seen out there.

Kamloops is not immune to layoffs, as Highland Valley Copper recently announced it would lay off 70 regular employee positions and 14 full time contract positions. Highland Valley currently employs over 1,000 people. Recently Teck Cominco announced it will lay off 1,400 workers globally. The Vancouver-based miner said the move is part of a broader strategy to cut costs, and is expected to save the company about $85-million.

If these were normal times, any one of these events would freak people out. But, this is a developing crisis, so our media puts a positive spin on it or ignores it outright, as do many citizens. I meet property owners who need to sell their homes believing this is a minor blip in the real estate and global markets. Sometimes we need to look at the larger picture because ignorance is not bliss.

The media is overwhelmed with this Obama euphoria.  I am not trying to take anything away from this historic event, but to believe one man will be able to reverse the damage done to the world economy over the past decade would be presumptuous.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I like to live in reality and prepare for what is coming instead of being surprised once it arrives.  I hope I am wrong, but too many facts lead me to believe otherwise.

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