Richmond houses offer much better value than Vancouvers West Side: survey

Richmond houses offer much better value than Vancouver\s West Side: survey
Downtown Vancouver condo values up 39% per square foot, nations priciest: survey
Price-per-square-foot numbers cited by Century 21 in its report about Vancouver condo prices continue to be the highest in Canada, stronger than what other realtors indicate in a fast-changing market

Active listings for downtown Vancouver condos in October, at 836, were up 11 per cent from the month before and up 93 per cent from a year before when there were 433. Kim Stallknecht / PNG Files

Vancouver condo prices continue to be the highest in Canada despite decreases over the last year, according to a nationwide study by realtor Century 21.

That’s not surprising, but the price-per-square-foot calculations Century 21 cited in its press release Wednesday sit higher than what some other realtors are starting to discuss in a fast-changing market.

Century 21’s annual price-per-square-foot survey pegs downtown Vancouver condos as some of the most expensive properties in the country at $1,345 per square foot.

The firm clarifies this number is based on prices between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, so it can compare with last year’s report, meaning “price changes since then are not reflected.”

Century 21 also says in the release that it asked its franchisees “to help come up with the average price-per-square-foot in their market. However, calculating a precise number is not an exact science as every office and province tracks statistics slightly differently. As a result, some have used either the average or benchmark prices (depending on the market) and tracked average square footage in sales.”

Indeed, other realtors like Ian Watt of Sutton Group West Coast Realty in Vancouver are focused on the change in more recent price-per-square-foot numbers as well as other indicators.

Looking at October figures crunched by SnapStats, Watt said median prices for downtown Vancouver condos “decreased 11 per cent from September 2018 and 21 per cent from the peak of the market in January 2018. The dollar per square foot also decreased from $1,043 (in September) to $979 (in October), which is a six-per-cent drop.”

“There were 143 sales (six per day) in downtown Vancouver in October, which was up 13 per cent from the previous month, but down 33 per cent from October 2017, and the units that are being sold are selling five per cent off the asking price.”

Vancouver realtor Steve Saretsky writes in his October report to clients that Vancouver condo sales fell “28 per cent year-on-year to their lowest total since October 2012” and because of this, “listings are beginning to stagnate. This has allowed inventory to build rather quickly, jumping 70 per cent from the same month last year.”

He adds “it is important to note that condo inventory remains low from a historical standpoint. Although, certainly when sales fall and inventory jumps, that trend should keep market participants on their toes.”

Watt agreed that inventory is growing steadily. Active listings for downtown Vancouver condos in October, at 836, were up 11 per cent from the month before and up 93 per cent from a year before when there were 433.

“Whenever you read these press releases made by real estate companies or real estate boards, please keep in mind what businesses they are in,” said Watt. “The more attractive they spin the statistics, the more money they can make.

“The fact is we are in the middle of a correcting market in Greater Vancouver. I wouldn’t focus on price per square foot, unless you are in the speculation game, but (instead focus on) how few transactions there are and how much inventory we have compared to years before. This is a better indicator of the health of the housing market.”

Watt predicts that by March 2019, “we will have well over 1,000 active listings” in the downtown Vancouver condo market or, in other words, “a lot of inventory creating further downward pressure on pricing.”

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Despite the softening in the real estate market, condos in downtown Vancouver and detached houses on the West Side are the most expensive homes in Canada on a per-square-foot basis, a new national survey reveals.

The average price of a downtown Vancouver condo is now pegged at $1,345 per square foot, which is a staggering 39 per cent higher than one year previously, according to the Century 21 Canada report released November 7.

Since last years survey, downtown condos have overtaken West Side houses as Canadas priciest per-square-foot home type. West Side detached homes slid nearly five per cent year over year, but follow close behind at $1,147 per square foot.

Single-family homes across the whole of Vancouver averaged $845 per square foot in the first six months of 2018, down from $890 in the same period of 2017, said the report.

Stepping over the border into Burnaby offers much more living space for your money, with per-square-foot detached house prices averaging $599, up 1.91 per cent from the same period in 2017.

At $898.50, West Vancouvers house prices were the fourth-priciest homes per square foot in Canada, beaten out – as they were last year – by downtown Toronto condos. The West Vancouver per-square-foot figure is a 10 per cent increase over the same period last year. 

So why are West Vancouvers notoriously expensive houses so much less expensive than the West Sides, on a per-square-foot basis?

In West Vancouver, most of the homes are on considerably larger lots than the 33-foot lots that are typical for the West Side, Brian Rushton, executive vice-president of CENTURY 21 Canada, told Glacier Media in response to last years survey. That means when you break the numbers down on a per-square-foot basis, its the West Side thats more expensive.

Per-square-foot house prices in Richmond also increased by more than 10 per cent year over year, to $677.

Century 21 acknowledged that, because the survey compared price data in the first six months of 2018 with the same period in 2017, price declines since that time are not taken into account.

Rushton said of this years survey, It is no surprise that Vancouvers downtown and West Side once again topped the list of Canadas most expensive properties per square foot, even with a small decline over the last year. Looking across B.C., the price variation is remarkable. Going out just one or two suburbs cuts your price in half, while prices in more rural areas are closer to a quarter or less of those in Vancouver.

Rushton added that the bigger bang for your buck is prompting home buyers to move to better-value areas. We are hearing anecdotally from agents in the Fraser Valley and in communities like Victoria that they are seeing an increase in the number of Vancouver residents moving to take advantage of lower house pricing, which the surge in prices in Chilliwack and elsewhere would seem to support.

Victorias detached houses offer much better value than Vancouver, even with an 11 per cent annual increase taking them to $509 per square foot. In Fort St. John, the cost of a square foot of detached house dropped more than 27 per cent to just $171. Prices in Vernon increased 10 per cent year over year to $366 per square foot, added the report.

The real estate brokerage said that per-square-foot prices were calculated by Century 21 franchisees across Canada, taking into account local average or benchmark sale prices and square footage of homes sold in their area.