House price rise has left Fraser Valley condos, townhomes behind

Real estate analysts see market growth driven by population gains

CMHC senior market analyst Robyn Adamache and Real Estate Investment Network senior analyst Don Campbell were among the speakers at the Urban Development Institute's Fraser Valley forecast forum Thursday.

CMHC senior market analyst Robyn Adamache and Real Estate Investment Network senior analyst Don Campbell were among the speakers at the Urban Development Institute's Fraser Valley forecast forum Thursday.

Real estate watchers say condos and townhomes in the Fraser Valley have been left in the dust by rising house prices, a fact largely lost in the public debate about the lack of housing affordability in Vancouver.

“You don’t need a million to live in the Fraser Valley,” Real Estate Investment Network senior analyst Don Campbell told a forum in Surrey Thursday hosted by the Urban Development Institute, referring to the social media hashtag #donthave1million used to protest prices in Vancouver.

He was one of several speakers who pointed to the different market dynamics in the Valley and particularly the widening gap between the prices of detached houses and either townhouses or condos.

“It’s really the detached house market that’s moving prices,” said Robyn Adamache, senior market analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

She said that while Fraser Valley single family house prices have climbed 15 per cent since 2008 – a relatively sedate annual rate of less than three per cent – Valley townhouse prices are actually down five per cent over the same period and condo prices are down 14 per cent.

“For townhomes and apartments, prices are still below the previous peak and haven’t recovered since the financial crisis,” Adamache said.

As a result of the two-track market, she said, buying a detached house instead of a townhome now costs roughly $300,000 more in the Valley, compared to $200,000 more in 2009.

She said the gap between the cost of an apartment and a house in the Valley has widened from $300,000 to $400,000 over the same period.

Adamache predicted the hot housing market of this spring will moderate heading into the fall and price gains will be closer to two to three per cent in 2016.

A growing population will continue to power the real estate market forward, she said, citing estimates that 8,500 new households are being formed each year in the Fraser Valley, with nearly 3,000 of them in Surrey and about 1,000 in Langley.

Between now and 2031, an extra 500,000 residents are expected – the equivalent of dropping another Surrey into the Valley.

Prices of detached houses in the Fraser Valley are also expected to be bolstered by the flight eastward of new families who want the yard with white picket fence but can’t afford it near Vancouver, Central 1 Credit Unon senior economist Bryan Yu said.

He and other speakers noted millennials are now about as numerous as baby boomers in the region and their home buying preferences are expected to increasingly influence prices and shape what developers build.

Speakers said they saw no evidence of speculators driving the market.

Scott Brown, president of Fifth Avenue Real Estate Marketing, said 95 per cent of the 600 multi-family units his firm sold in the Fraser Valley last year were to people intending to live in them – not investors or absentee owners.

“This is not a false demand of investment, where if interest rates go up or something like that the whole market just crashes – these are people who are buying and moving in.”

He said townhouses are increasingly accepted as a more affordable mainstream housing option replacing the detached house.

The influence of Chinese buyers is on the rise, Brown said, more so in particular pockets rather than the entire region.

He said he’s noticed strong Chinese buying in areas of South Surrey and Maple Ridge that are close to good high schools.

“South Surrey really behaves to me more like the west side of Vancouver than it does the Fraser Valley.”

Brown predicted that eventually all real estate firms in the region will need at least one Mandarin-speaking staff member.

As for the effect on real estate of the outcome of Metro Vancouver’s transit referendum, Brown said developers in the Valley should “keep building” because Surrey will proceed with its light rail network even if there’s a No vote.

Campbell stressed the importance of transit and dense lifestyle neighbourhoods to millennials.

A unit commands at least 15 per cent higher prices or rents if it’s within 800 metres of a transit station, he said.

Chart courtesy of CMHC’s Robyn Adamache; Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

Inez Louis opens up about testing positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 3, 2020. (Inez Louis/Facebook)
Juno-nominated singer and Indigenous health planner goes public about testing positive for COVID-19

In a livestream from bed, Inez Louis begs everyone to ‘do the right thing’ and follow health orders

Former Hope resident Jason Thomas Graff is set to be sentenced on charges of telecommunicating to lure a child and posession of child pornography at the Chilliwack Law Courts Jan. 28. (File photo)
Former Hope resident to be sentenced for child luring in Chilliwack court

Sentencing Jan. 28 at Chilliwack Law Courts following offences in Hope, Vancouver Island

A black-capped chickadee tolerates the 40 below zero weather. (File)
Harrison Christmas Bird Count taking flight

Local bird watchers help with worldwide bird tracking effort

RCMP don’t want to see you having your vehicle towed away after an aggressive driving infraction. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP hand out more than 500 tickets in aggressive driving crackdown

Police say they’ll continue to focus on speeding, aggressive and distracted driving

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon (Dec. 3) after an inmate escaped from corrections officers. The man was taken back into custody a short while later. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
UPDATE: Prisoner shot at by guards in Abbotsford had history of escapes

Stephane Bissonnette escapes from corrections officers, but is arrested a short while later

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read