The MLS Home Price Index is a relative measure of residential real estate price movements in the Greater Vancouver zone

Metro’s hot property zones giving up gains: expert

Real estate sales sag, prices drop in some cities, but Valley is more stable

Sagging demand from home buyers is putting downward pressure on Lower Mainland real estate prices, but mainly in areas where prices had shot up faster than the rest of the region.

September home sales in Metro Vancouver were down eight per cent from August and have plunged 32.5 per cent from a year ago, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).

And a composite benchmark price that tracks all residential property movement in the area is down 2.3 per cent in the past three months, or down 0.8 per cent from a year ago.

That decline has been a more modest 1.8 per cent over three months and 0.1 per cent from a year ago over the entire Lower Mainland – which includes the Fraser Valley, where values have held up better.

“In some areas and neighbourhoods we’re seeing price declines, especially in the areas that ran up the most,” said Tsur Somerville, director of UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate at the Sauder School of Business.

“There is a noticeable difference between this West Vancouver-Vancouver west side-Richmond grouping and everywhere else,” he said.

Prices in the three oceanfront cities that had soared in 2010 and 2011 have dropped five to seven per cent from their recent peaks, he noted.

The priciest district remains Vancouver’s west side, where benchmark detached houses typically cost close to $2.1 million. That’s down 6.5 per cent from a year ago but still up almost 40 per cent over the past five years.

It’s a completely different story in Maple Ridge, where a detached house typically changes hands at $468,000 – the same price as five years ago and up just over one per cent from a year ago.

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, which also covers Surrey, White Rock and North Delta, said residential property as a whole declined 0.4 per cent in the past three months, but is up 2.1 per cent year-over-year.

Detached houses are up three per cent from a year ago at $549,000 while townhouses are down 1.7 per cent to $305,700 and apartments have gained 4.1 per cent to $198,800.

“The Fraser Valley is much more stable than other areas of the Lower Mainland,” Somerville said.

Demand for higher end homes has fallen off the fastest in both Metro Vancouver and the Valley.

Greater Vancouver real estate board president Eugen Klein said Ottawa’s elimination of 30-year government-insured mortgages earlier this year has led to a “clear reduction in buyer demand” because the measure intended to rein in Canadian debt loads has made homes less affordable here.

But Somerville doesn’t think the federal government’s tightening of mortgage rules is playing a major role.

“That only applies on mortgages with a down payment of 25 per cent or less,” he said. “Nobody’s out buying a high-end home with a three per cent down payment.”

Somerville said a slowdown in Lower Mainland residential market demand has been underway since last December and is being matched by flattening prices.

He doesn’t detect anything likely to trigger a much deeper drop in the market.

“To have some dramatic radical change you need to have something dramatically and radically change and I don’t see what that is.”

Market psychology is also playing a role and a recent survey found many Metro residents think prices will continue down, a belief that could extend the trend if many would-be buyers decide to keep waiting.

Just Posted

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

COLUMN: Student voices give me hope for the future

Student Caleb Pennington wanted to know why something was taken off the agenda. So he asked.

Chilliwack newcomers celebrate multicultural community

Local Immigration Partnership helping new Canadians and refugees settle into new life

VIDEO: Rubik’s Rumble a hit at Chilliwack middle school

Students fill gymnasium for first annual tournament focusing on popular puzzle toy

VIDEO: Gun enthusiasts fill Chilliwack venue for antique show

Collectors, proud owners and vendors took part in the event that approaches half a century in age

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

Most Read