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(*Yawn*)... Statistics are not boring! Stats about the housing market are fascinating right now! Stats are critical in an era where every level of government across the country is tinkering with established practices, free markets, mortgage approvals, vacation rentals, air bnb, cottage owners, purchasers of 2nd homes, property speculators, offshore owners... this level of interference is unprecedented! The fact that it's happening all at once is almost unbelievable?
"Interference", you say? Let me explain: government efforts to regulate explosive markets in Vancouver and Toronto have created uncertainty. Seems that a couple spots in the Okanagan might have been caught up in this debacle by our Provincial Government, too. Uncertainty puts downward pressure on many things, so why not real estate? If the point of government intervention was to tame a wild housing economy then you might think that it's time to clap our hands and cheer. Then again, if this downturn is simply the product of uncertainty, then it’s not crazy to expect that the market could return to normal when the dust has settled. Many would argue that markets independent of Toronto and Vancouver were never in that much trouble, anyway.
Perhaps late in the game to respond to an unprecedented influx of global capital, these initiatives have made it more difficult for young Canadians to become home-owners, more uncertain for home-owners who need to renew mortgages, and more expensive for home-owners in BC & Alberta who have been lumped in with property speculators for reasons that don't seem to add up to anybody but tax-collectors.
Yet through all of this, real estate is doing well in the Okanagan. We’re not experiencing the records set in 2017, but even the skeptics would have to admit that the market is still in good shape. We look to the stats in an effort to determine what next year will bring. Click to enlarge the chart below and notice that although the median price has fallen since January, (a star marks the highest point in our history), July 2018's average has only been bested at one other point in history, (also marked with a star). Don’t let the numbers mislead you, as the volume of homes sold in January is much lower than the volume of homes sold in spring & summer months. It shows that prices are still strong, and that’s about it.
What the heck is going on???
The Okanagan Market has been slower for about 6 months now, but home values haven’t taken a dive just yet. In fact, the prices remain strong and homes are spending as many days on market as before, although sales have slowed and there's more inventory... what the heck is going on?? Is it the proposed speculation tax? The Battle of Horgan vs. Notley? Federal Lending Rules? Increased Interest Rates? Smokey skies? With most of the stats pointing to a cooling market, the rest of the stats don't quite seem to be lining up accordingly. OMREB President, Marv Beer, notes that it takes time for prices to catch up to cooling stats, although the stats have been cooling for 6 months at the time this article was written... which is leaving some very clever people wondering how long this correction is supposed to take.
Statistics can be skewed
You have to consider a few things that can skew the stats. The Okanagan draws our share of retirement-minded folks, who often have enough money to buy their next home with a suitcase full of cash from another sale. Also, they often favour homes with 2 car garages and ranchers with flat entrances, or maybe gated strata communities to take care of the snow and landscaping while they're working on their Yuletide suntans in Arizona. You might not think of these folks as the typical home-buyer, until they add up to a sizable demographic of the community in which you live, at which point you might appreciate how "their" statistics might be screwing up "your" statistics.
Also, if you consider that these folks might not be interested in typical family-oriented homes, and the families who actually want these properties can't get a mortgage with higher interest rates and new federal lending rules, then statistics can get pretty cloudy. Presumably, family-oriented properties are going to sit on the market for an awful long time, whereas the stratas might be flying off the shelves, so to speak. How about the price of family-oriented homes? Longer Days-On-Market usually translates into falling prices, so will my clients look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them that prices are on the rise? You've got to be careful with statistics. They tell a story... NOT the whole story.
Fixer-uppers in the 400K range are spending more time on the market and thus, losing some value, which would be a great thing for young home-owners if they could afford a mortgage. Alas, if the efforts of one level of government giveth, then it would seem that the next level taketh away. * It might mean that there'll be some good deals out there! * Like a box of hamsters crawling all over each other, it's going to take a while to see who comes out on top before bedtime. In the meantime, it would seem that life goes on quite the same as before, if only a little slower.
The Speculation Tax
As municipalities rally against this proposal, it's becoming more apparent that this tax in the Okanagan would hit BC Residents more than anyone. It looks like it’s on the way, and the Provincial Government doesn’t seem interested in changing direction at this point. Click on the “Scrap The Tax” link on the home page of this site if you want your opinion to be added to the mix. If you’re looking forward to the new tax, then it would seem that all you have to do is wait!
Please keep this in mind as you consider what the stats mean to your interpretation of today's Okanagan Market:
Interference is like static on the radio... it means there's something going on out there which is making the signals less clear. Take the example of a fire-damaged bungalow in Vancouver selling for 4 million bucks, when not too long ago it was half that price... crazy, right? Acting on the idea to pack more people into a smaller space, the slash of the pen by the City Council allows the new purchaser to turn one bungalow into 8 condos which can be sold for a million bucks a piece. So, you see? Thanks to Local Government, 4 million bucks for the remnants of a burned-out bungalow is actually a great deal that could net you millions. Also, eight happy home-owners can pick up a new condo for half the cost of last year's crappy bungalow.
Ups & downs would seem to come in cycles in the real estate game, and since the market recovered from the 2008-2013 recession, then history would suggest that we should still have a couple of good years left in the market before the next down-turn. My crystal ball has been filled with smoke this summer, but every new month brings new insight, and analysis from OMREB is the best in the business. If you're talking about Government, then It's possible that a change next year could shake the market up yet again. This is a great conversation to have over a beer or two if you'd like to discuss your situation! Knowing your options is time well-spent.
Please feel welcome to give me a call, anytime!
September to October 2018 - Market Stats
Volumes are naturally a little lower as we head into the fall and winter, but the stats can still tell a story. Do you know any people who have made home purchases in the “off” season? I do… a lot of them. We’re looking for trends here… indications that the market is clearly changing and headed in one direction or another. Bear in mind that conclusions are more reliable with more data, and when you’re working with less data in the slow season, you’ve got to read between the lines.
Months of Inventory
Months of Inventory (MOI)
Generally speaking, where there is less than 4 months of inventory we’d say that we’re in a “sellers” market… 7 months of inventory is “balanced”… more than 9 months becomes a “buyers” market. Think about it like this… the longer it takes to sell your home, the more concessions you’ll probably make to get it sold. Taking six months to sell your home isn’t so bad, but taking a year to sell it becomes frustrating. You’d probably start thinking about dropping the price, right? When everybody starts doing that at the same time, the market changes.
We’ve arguably been in a more balanced position since the peak of 2017. Looking at the chart to the right, the MOI is creeping up as it does every fall and winter, but the trend doesn’t reveal any changes that are too dramatic just yet. It’s a stable trend.
Original vs. Sold Price
Original Price vs. Sold Price
You’re actually looking for the lowest spread between these two numbers to indicate the strength of a changing market. When home sales are very strong, sellers ask for more money. Note that buyers don’t necessarily pay more unless every other seller is doing the same thing. From the chart to the left, the spread became less in the summer months of 2018 as homes were taking longer to sell and sellers began to react to a changing market. Uncertainty about the pending speculation tax and higher interest rates had hit the market quite significantly at what should have been the busiest time of year. Listing prices dropped and price reductions popped up like dandelions in spring. As we enter the fall months, we see that things are looking more stable and the spread is returning. The uncertainty has settled and sellers are returning to higher prices, willing to shoot for better returns by giving their homes a longer soak over the winter months. The pressure is off. There are some categories where prices have actually fallen, but this is not market-wide, and we’ll see evidence of this in other data.
Sales by Month
Historic Count of Sales by Month (CSM)
Follow the trend (chart on the right) from the top of 2017 to the bottom, and then again from the top of 2018 to the bottom… and don’t include November because the month is far from over at the time this chart was generated.
Sales are going down, which explains why the MOI (two charts above) is going up. Note that the spread between 2017 and 2018 is pretty consistent, which means that things aren’t changing all that dramatically here, too. You can make a few deductions when we add this third data set to the others:
1. Sales are a lower
2. Homes are taking longer to sell
2. After a brief freak-out in the summer the prices have balanced out again. In fact, they’ve remained very strong.
Median Sale Price
Median Sale Price
In spring and summer months we would benefit by comparing all the different categories of homes, availability and prices. It makes less statistical sense to do this in the fall and winter months, as there isn’t enough data to help us make reliable observations… especially with all the government tom-foolery that lead to the upheaval of last year’s record-breaking market. We’re interested in general trends at this point in the year, as we’re pretty much trying to answer one, simple question:
Q: ”Is the market any good?”
With this data as your evidence, you will now be able to say this with statistical certainly:
A: ”Yes, the market is still good.”
Look at the Median Sale Price Data to the right. Notice anything interesting? Most of the sale prices are up, up, up! As mentioned earlier, DO NOT make the mistake of assuming that the entire market is still heading skyward like it was in 2017. Stats can be deceiving. The median price of homes can be influenced by a few things:
1. The fix’er uppers aren’t really moving. Markets usually soften as a result of a poor economy, and the first-time home-buyers who usually pick up the lowest-priced properties are the ones affected by a poor economy first. They generally don’t have a lot of savings, so if they lose their jobs, then the dream of owning a home usually goes with it.
In 2018, we’re told that the economy is performing well enough, but the new lending rules, rising interest rates, and stress-tests have put these lower-priced homes out of reach for younger buyers anyway, as they can’t qualify for the mortgages they need to become home-owners. If interest rates keep rising, then the prices just might have have to come down an awful lot further before this changes. Want to add another wrench in the gears? People with a little extra money start looking for flippers when the price is right.
2. Boomers and X’ers have equity. More established home-owners are usually buyers of mid to high-priced homes, and they have the money set aside to be able to afford them. Some of this money can come from home-equity, but they often enjoy better-paying jobs that are also more stable in a troubled economy. If these folks are buying expensive homes, and the less-expensive ones aren’t selling… the Median Price goes higher.
3. Competitive advantage encourages middle-buyers to spend more. Remember that little freak-out in the middle of 2018? If middle-buyers had been looking for a 700k home, they might have been encouraged to spend 750k for a home that used to be selling for 800k before the flurry of price-reductions. It’s a great deal! Banks make a lot of money in the mortgage-business and if younger folk can’t qualify they’re perfectly happy to sell to older folks who can. Older folks can likely stretch themselves a little further without getting into trouble. There are some competitive rates being offered by the big banks, and HSBC has made headlines recently for their discount rates. Did you really think the banks wouldn’t react?
August 2018 - Market Statistics
“We are now six months into a cooling trend, with a curb in demand arising from natural market shifts, but intensified by government intervention in the form of tougher mortgage rules, higher interest rates and the threat of a possible speculation tax,” says OMREB President Marv Beer.
Of note is an increase in average days on market, now at 78, up from 65 days the previous month and 69 last August. “While we are not seeing it as yet, downward pressure on price typically tends to occur when days on market lengthen,” says Beer, noting that average price in August was $511,916, an 8% drop from the previous month, but 5% higher than this time last year.
Prices haven’t taken a tumble yet. Inventories are up by about 32% in Residential Properties, and a whopping 43% in condos! More inventory is more selection, so this is surely not a bad thing for consumers on the buyer's side, although the fact that prices have not yet fallen suggests that the financial advantage is still with the seller's side for now. In real numbers, there were 8222 listings in the OMREB in 5 categories, (Residential, Condo, Townhouse, Lots & Mobiles), 3700 sales, and an active inventory of 3361 properties.
Sales of empty lots are down almost 50%, but that probably isn't going to make any headlines. There's 30% more inventory and the prices are up modestly from last year. It’s reasonable to expect the demand for lots upon which to build new homes will be down if there’s been an increase in homes on the market. No big surprises there. If you're a builder in a market that might be softening, would you hold off on new projects until you could be certain that prices were going to stay strong? Yeah, you might even sell your empty lots if you wanted to free up capital.
Mobiles continue to climb in value by approximately 20% since last year. Sales are only down by 10% and inventory is up by 30%, but it looks like they're selling in less time, though. Mobiles continue to do very well!
Summary: 2017 set records... 2018 is slower. It's easy to assume that this trend will continue, and prices would generally be expected to head south when homes begin spending more time on the market. With Provincial and Federal Government policies having such an impact upon the market, it's easy to imagine what a change in government or a change in policy could accomplish, almost overnight. What would happen if the Provincial NDP let go of the Speculation Tax, and the Federal Liberals let go of the Stress Test on the very same day? Would young people be able to buy houses again and city-dwellers be back in the market for summer properties? Hard to argue that it could be a real game-changer.
July 2018 - MARKET REPORT
KELOWNA, B.C. – August 2nd , 2018 - OMREB
Residential sales across the region of Revelstoke to Peachland moderated slightly in July, with 742 sales posted to the MLS®,
- Sales are down 7% from last month (June 2018)
- Sales are 23% lower than this time last year
- Prices are 11% higher than this time last year
- This represents 5 months of consistently lower sales volumes than last year
“I think we can officially say that we are moving towards balanced market territory, although we are still at a point where the market tends to favor sellers more than buyers, yet not as much as in previous years,” comments OMREB President Marv Beer.
- Inventory of new homes on the market is 26% higher than at this time last year.
- July’s average price held at $559,235 - - - 2% higher than June and 11% over this time last year.
- Days on market is consistent with this time last year, at 65 days versus 63.
Who's Buying in the OMREB Area?
- 50% to 60% of buyers in the Okanagan Mainline Area are BC Residents
- Lower Mainlanders/ Islanders comprise about 20 % of this group
- People from other provinces comprise about 15% of buyers, with Albertans generally representing 10% of this group
- Foreign buyers account for less than 3% in the OMREB Area
- The OMREB is divided into 3 market areas:
1. Peachland to Lake Country (Central Okanagan)
2. Predator Ridge to Enderby (North Zone)
3. Salmon Arm to Revelstoke (The Shuswap)
“The make-up of buyers of homes in this region, softening market conditions and continued federal government intervention all would suggest that further interference in the market via a speculation tax that would impact long-term BC homeowners far more than speculators, out of province, or foreign buyers is not needed and makes no sense whatsoever,” contends Marv Beer, noting that two-thirds of the homes targeted by the proposed speculation tax are, in fact, owned by BC residents.
MARCH COMPARISONS ON THE LEFT... APRIL COMPARISONS ON THE RIGHT
Always get professional advice before relying on any information you find online.
Residential Listing... April 2017 vs April 2018
There were 420 listings in 2017 and 506 listings in 2018
Sales last year were higher at 255 vs sales this April of 225.
The average price this year is higher at 726,926 vs 667,105.
It took an average of 42 days to sell last year vs 50 this year.
Last year's inventory was lower at 719 vs. 919 this year.
Summary: Sales are down this year but prices are higher. There are now more homes on the market and they're still taking longer to sell.
Condo Lisitings... April 2017 vs. April 2018
Listings are up from last year's 199 to 231 this April.
Sales were down from 162 to 129 this year.
The average price this year is up from 336,139 to 362,600.
It took an average of 45 days to sell last year, and 41 days to sell this year.
Last year's inventory was substantially lower at 347 vs. 464 this year.
Summary: There are more listings this year, and the average price is higher. They're selling a little faster and there's much more inventory available.
Townhouse Listings... April 2017 vs. April 2018
Listings are up this April from 127 to 141.
Sales were down from 82 last year to 76 this year.
The average price is up from 453,658 to 492,929 this year.
It took an average of 43 days to sell last year vs. 58 days this year.
Last year's inventory was lower at 223 vs 268 this year.
Summary: Sales are down, but not significantly. The average price is higher, but units are taking longer to sell.
Mobile Home Listings... April 2017 vs. April 2018
Listings are up this April from 38 last year to 42 this year.
Sales are up from 19 last year to 25 this year.
The average price is up from 129,905 last year to 179,625 this year.
The average days to sell is up from 51 last year to 74 this year.
Inventory is down from 80 last year to 65 this year.
Summary: Number of listings is relatively stable and there are more sales. The average price is much higher, but they're spending more days on the market.
Always get professional advice before relying on any information you find online.
Residential Listings... March 2017 vs March 2018
There were 423 listings in 2017 and 420 listings in 2018
Sales were substantially higher last March at 244 vs. 183.
The average price this year is higher: 734,197 vs. 640,613.
It took an average of 45 days to sell last year vs 50 this year.
Last year's inventory was higher at 659 vs. 601 this year.
Summary: Sales are down quite a lot, but prices are much higher. There are fewer homes on the market and they're taking about 20% longer to sell.
Condo Listings... March 2017 vs. March 2018
Listings were up this March to 279 from 242 last year.
Sales were down from 165 in 2017 to 129 this year.
The average price this year is slightly higher; 364,062 vs. 349.506 last year.
It took an average of 44 days to sell last year, and 42 days to sell this year.
Last year's inventory was substantially lower at 340 vs. 416 this year.
Summary: There are about 15% more listings this year and the average price is slightly higher. They're selling in about the same amount of time, but there's much more inventory available.
Townhouse Listings... March 2017 vs. March 2018
Listings are similar this March at 145 vs. 139 last year.
Sales were down from 103 last year to 63 this year.
The average price is up to 499,413 from 453,619 in 2017.
It took an average of 53 days to sell last year vs. 46 days this year.
Last year's inventory was lower at 201 vs. 244 this year.
Summary: Sales are down quite a lot. The average price is up comfortably and the higher inventory is selling in shorter time.
Mobile Home Listings... March 2017 vs. March 2018
Listings are up this March to 33 from 28 last year.
Sales are down slightly from 21 to 15 this year.
The average price is much higher at 196,887 vs. 113,188 last year.
It took only 62 days to sell this year vs. 105 days last year.
The inventory is stable at 67 last year vs. 64 in 2018.
Summary: There are slightly more listings and slightly fewer sales. The average price has increased wildly and mobile units are selling in very short time.
Each of the "Summary" components and the information provided here is subject to interpretation and is also subject to other factors and statistics which do not appear on this website. More information is available if you would like to make a request, and additional information has the potential to change the way in which you may interpret the data. Information is considered accurate as it has been obtained from industry statistical experts, but should only serve to provide a general insight into the nature of the current market and is not necessarily applicable to your personal situation or investments. Always obtain professional advice before making financial decisions or relying upon any information you find online. Statistics can be misleading and may not apply to your personal financial situation. Statistics can be misleading if they are interpreted without being thoroughly researched and fully understood. We're happy to discuss this with you, and there's never any obligation.
MARCH RESIDENTIAL A MIXED STORY
From Revelstoke to Peachland, (the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board - OMREB), sales are down 24% from last year. OMREB President Tanis Read says it's difficult to know if this is an anomaly or whether it indicates a significant issue.
Average prices are up 10% over last year and the days on market are consistent with March 2017. There are 3% more listings when compared with last year, which doesn't represent much of a change. Are sales down because it's been a slow spring? Bad weather? Bad politics?
According to a BCREA report, a 10% negative shock to home prices would extinguish $90 Billion of (BC Homeowner's) wealth, or $70,000 of the average home-owner's equity. Falling home prices can lead to reduced consumer spending, drop in housing demand, less new home construction, fewer jobs, and ultimately worsen the housing supply problem that these measures were intended to improve.
Is sabotaging the strength of the housing market the best way to encourage builders to create more housing? Builders have been complaining about government red-tape forever, so you might wonder why governments haven't made any significant moves to address this yet? Taking a pipe to the knees of home-owners and first-timer buyers seems more like a last resort than a first step.
Addressing housing affordability from the demand side instead of the supply side raises a lot of questions. Clearly, if we have a problem with supply then the obvious solution would seem to be to create more houses. More supply is less demand; less demand is lower prices. If low supply and high prices are what people have been complaining about, you'd assume that the intention of every level of government that has added their own sprigs of wolf's bane and frog's legs into this boiling cauldron would be to fix this first.
Making it more difficult to afford housing... to reduce the demand for housing... to meet the demand for housing...
Maybe it makes sense to you.
Stay tuned and STAY INFORMED as the saga unfolds!