What a year it’s been for Vancouver’s real estate market. High demand, low inventory, and escalating prices made for a busy 2015 that kept everyone on their toes in the fast-paced market. The drastic increases blindsided homeowners and professionals alike, including the experts and economists who would’ve predicted a safe 3% to 5% increase. A year ago, no one would ever have dreamed that housing prices would skyrocket by 26% on Vancouver’s Eastside and 23% on the West. Just when you thought a Westside 33 ft lot in Dunbar worth $1.8 million back in January was crazy, that same lot is pushing $2.5 million today.
Vancouver’s Westside market continues to be fueled by immigration, low interest rates, and a sagging Canadian dollar. Of the 45 homes we personally sold in 2015, a whopping 80% of those involved multiple-offer scenarios with the sold price being above the asking price.
It may be a seller’s market out there right now, but if 2015 proves anything, no one really knows what’s in store for the New Year. What is certain, is wealthy immigrants from China see Vancouver as a safe haven to park their money. With the Canadian dollar falling about 30% against the Yuan in the past year, our real estate prices are even more desirable. Our dollar is likely to remain depressed as long as oil, energy and commodity prices remain depressed. Interest rates in Canada aren’t likely to rise any significant amount, if at all, over the next year while our economy remains sluggish. Our low interest rates, combined with potentially higher interest rates in the US, will keep our dollar low thus continuing to incite demand for Canadian real estate.
Vancouver’s Eastside market, on the other hand, isn’t driven so much by immigration as a more diversified demographics of buyers. There, more local influence is the driving force. Many Eastside buyers are young families and local buyers who once would have purchased on the Westside, but are now out-priced. New demand for lower-cost living on the Eastside is to account for the 30% increase in some neighbourhoods there.
Vancouver’s suburban neighborhoods also saw strong demand and rising prices. In the past couple of months I have assisted a couple of buyers house-hunting in Tsawwassen. Every property we’ve offered on is also in multiple offer scenarios which is driving prices up there as well.
I am predicting another strong year for real estate in 2016. I cannot see how we can sustain 20% price increases, but only time will tell. If you’re thinking of selling your home, I can’t imagine a better time than around the upcoming Lunar New Year. Low inventory in most markets coupled with demand as high as it’s ever been ensures we’re in store for many more bidding wars to come. And that means prices will only continue to rise.
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(Photo: Kenny Louie)