Sales Predictions

Since “inheriting” this blog in the middle of May, I’ve used the blog as an excuse to analyze data, crunch numbers and see what the results are. It’s geeky, but fun (at least for me). I’ve gained some new insights – such as when interest rates drop, prices in Victoria may – but do not always go up (outlined in my Housing prices follow mortgage rates? post).

A few years ago, Leo developed a model for predicting house sales for each month. It used the current month in the previous year, the previous month and the current month as variables to predict the sales at the end of the current month. This model works surprisingly well most of the time … except for this spring where we have a strong seller’s market and sales are not following “normal” trends. Although there are predictable seasonal variations (spring peaks, summer doldrums, winter blues) – other factors such as: interest rates, CHMC policies, and public perception of economic “health” – make it so that some months do not follow the same pattern as the previous year(s).

Therefore, I’ve been determined to try to develop a new model for predicting house sales. I have developed three variants of a new model – all based on the average daily sales for a given week. Long weekends (with statutory holidays) often skew the numbers as there can be a surge/drop in interest and delays in finalizing sales. The best model I’ve found so far is to average the previous three weeks of daily sales and to use this to predict the month-end sales. Using this model, the predictions vary each week of the month, with the prediction during the first week being surprisingly accurate:

Month 1st Week 2nd Week 3rd Week 4th Week Actual
May 910 870 879 896 905
June 896 923 924 896 910
July 779 742 729 800 ???

Here’s the details for July 2015 sales so far …

2015-07-27 13_38_51-July 2015 Sales Projection

So why put this effort into predictions? For myself, it’s mainly an intellectual exercise. Hopefully, for you – the readers – it will help be a guide as to whether it is potentially a good time to buy or sell.

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84 thoughts on “Sales Predictions

  1. Not that I know of. This was specifically because Pete was in town and I wanted to meet him. I’ve never been to a mmm meetup before
    In the earlier days of house hunt there were some gatherings (before I joined). I wonder if there is appetite to do that again?

  2. Yup, it’s definitely slim pickings in my PCS accounts. There were much better quality listings in the $600K to $850K range last summer.

  3. Inventory really sucks….I have 8-9 buyers willing, able, and ready to buy in the $600,000 – $1,500,000 range right now but not much out there once you weed everything out for various reasons. I am selling two listings this year for every buyer represented. In 2013 it was a ton easier representing buyers, I had a 1 to 1 ratio of sold listing to buyers represented.

  4. The inventory is getting sparse in the City. The market is starting to look like Target stores.

    -Lots of empty shelves

  5. Actually nan, it looks like all 3 core areas were hot.
    Oak Bay up 7.4%
    Victoria proper up 7.5%
    Saanich East in 3rd place up 6.6%

    Western Communities were fairly flat over last July. Actually Metchosin’s benchmark shows it went down a couple thousand.

  6. Zing ! …..Once again we have record sales and median prices are down. Average prices mean squat as has been pointed out numerous times. Looks like distribution to the new sheep in a topping market. Maybe some HAM laundering will save the day ? 😉

  7. Even better Michael. If you financed the home to the maximum, the cash on cash return would be staggering. Add in some suite income and that return on your original investment would be enough to goad most first time buyers into the market.

    But to be factual, the only one that made money is the bank who lends you the money for taking out the equity in your home. You have to incur a debt to access the money. Otherwise, the only time you make or lose money is when you sell, less the commission and legal fees, in the next 25 years or so.

    I understand that you hypothetically made $35,000. And that’s good because now you can go to a hypothetical store and buy hypothetical food.

  8. Making $35,000 tax free for living in a house is better than some of the full-time jobs out there.

  9. 6.3% is a pretty good increase since last July.

    “The Multiple Listing Service® Home Price Index benchmark value for a single family home in the Victoria Core this time last year was $564,300. The benchmark value for the same home this month has increased by 6.3% to $599,800.”

  10. I would agree with this – it looks like Oak bay is really the only region that had a meaningful increase in MOM average….the rest of Victoria is pretty flat since last month.

  11. Tue Aug 4, 2015 8:10am:

    Jul Jul
    2015 2014
    Net Unconditional Sales: 796 681
    New Listings: 1,235 1,195
    Active Listings: 3,942 4,570

    Please Note
    Left Column: stats for the entire month from this year
    Right Column: stats for the entire month from last year

  12. What it does is create a phony BC economy. If you multiply the guy with $450 billion times how many ? 200 ? 500? or thousands ?? The implications and effect via a shadow market are massive. How many sales are flippers, now flipping the cash into more properties then into numbered companies, etc. This is huge news.

  13. This level of laundering can only occur with the cooperation of both countries. For China this allows them to keep their inflation and exchange rates low. Which keeps them a super power in the world. And Canada gets billions to keep the economy rolling.

    This is a currency war.

  14. Tell me $450 million by one guy (and one of many more) doesn’t manipulate a market that effects average, benchmark and Teranet prices. Increasing average prices in Vancouver effects people’s emotions to buy province wide. You have to wonder how much is making it’s way to Victoria. This is explosive info.

    “Marsh said he recently started work on a new case involving a Chinese man who absconded with $450 million in corruption money and has been laundering it in Vancouver for a number of years. Marsh said he is uncovering numerous Lower Mainland real estate assets that the suspect purchased with his stolen fortune.”

    “This guy is just one of many,” Marsh said. “The evidence is mounting of a lot of grey money coming into Vancouver’s real estate market from China. So we have some serious issues in Vancouver and we need more deterrents. The money seized at YVR is a good example. You pay a pittance of a fine, and it is worth the risk.”

  15. Looks like the lid is really blown off of BC as the real estate money laundering capital of the world. Seems like this is just the tip of the iceberg as they buy up properties like a bad disease. When this pipeline is shut down, the party in BC will definitely hit free fall like the Chinese stock market.

    Chinese money launderers snap up Vancouver real estate because of lenient border laws, loose regulations

    “Hayley Labbé told The Province that CBSA seizure data indicates only a tiny fraction of the illicit money pouring from China into Vancouver property. Labbé said experts believe there are major gaps in compliance for reporting of suspicious transactions in Vancouver’s real estate industry.

    Several real estate industry sources have informed The Province they suspect colleagues are turning a blind eye — or even in some cases participating in illegal schemes. However, these professionals say they fear speaking on the record because they could be blackballed by peers, or accused of racism.

    “The people buying these multi-million-dollar properties here in Greater Vancouver don’t care what the asking price is,” one experienced realtor said. “Some are corrupt government officials and insiders, and all they want to do is get the money out of China and use Vancouver to launder the money.”

  16. We seem to be constantly bombarded by how great a time it is to be a seller. But are there any markets where it’s a great time to be a buyer?

    Sure are.


    There are 40 waterfront properties for sale in the Saanich Peninsula ranging from a low of $800,000 to a high of $10,000,000 for a home for the eccentric. On average about 5.5 sell each month or over 7 months of inventory. That means a good selection to keep most of the high end shoppers happy. Prices range from a low of $650,000 in Willis Point. A neighborhood for those that really like their privacy. To a high of 5.3 million (down from 7.4 million). Half of the purchases for waterfront being less than 1.15 million. Median days on market are shown at 43 which is a bit of a game as these properties are listed and re-listed regularly which restarts the day count.

    As for those wanting to sell . For the same time period that stood at 64 new listings. Sellers outnumbered buyers by a ratio of 1.9 to 1

  17. Wasn’t there talk about the direct flights to Fort McMurray a couple years back and how all those wealthy oil workers are surely propping up the market?

  18. This blog has been waiting for the crash that never happened for what, six years

    The crash happened, it was just in affordability instead of prices.

  19. Very few bears left out there since most capitulated in the last couple of years but the ones left are really getting grumpy after this spring. Talk about losing hope.

  20. For those interested in condominiums in the core.

    584 condos for sale in the core. Projected sales for the month of 178. With a median price of $266,500 and 48 days on the market.

    Projected new listings of 232

    MOI of 3.3
    NLS of 1.3:1
    DOM of 48 days

    The median price isn’t always the most clear indication of how prices have been increasing. Sometimes the sample size is too small or you may have a lot of sales in a to be built complex from a single developer at discounted prices which contributes to a larger error in the numbers. I thiink that may have been what happened in a couple of the months. Because it doesn’t seem logical that prices for condos would decline with low supply and lowish new listings coming to the market. Year over Year median prices also don’t show an increase for July either.

    Here are the medians for each month starting in January
    $266,500 (projected for July)

    When I cross check the median prices against the median Sales to Assessment Ratio I get a stable market which seems more reasonable to me. Because my bias is that I cannot envision declining prices in a sellers market.

    105 (projected)

    One year ago the median SA ratio was 100 in July with a median of $270,000

  21. Actually this ties in nicely with affordability. The interest rate decreased but prices didn’t move much. That would have an effect on mortgage payments for new buyers being a little less than a couple months before.

    Yet prospective buyers are more risk adverse today than several months back.

  22. I have the actual medians for the first 6 months for houses in the core and what I’ve projected for July as follows:

    $542,500 with 90 sales in Jan
    $597,500 with 164 in feb
    $625,000 with 231 in Mar
    $631,200 with 235 in Apr
    $620,250 with 284 in May
    $629,900 with 261 in June
    $612,000 projected at 222 for July

    Cross checked against the increasing median sales to assessment ratios for the same months at:

    Prices seem to have stabilized after increases in the first few months. And really that isn’t too bad given all the bad news about oil and the loonie.

    We have never had a way to measure risk in the market. You can only guess at how high, moderate or low by the effect on the market or polls of the buying public. I think what we are seeing is heightened risk offsetting the low MOI, NLS and DOM. In previously strong sellers markets when the risk of buying a home was perceived as low prices went ballistic very quickly. The agents moved quickly to raise asking prices. Lots of daily price increases back then with the agents practicing peak pricing where you add X amount to the price of the last home to sell on the street to estimate what the new listing will sell at.

    This year there seems to be enough risk in the market to keep prices stable.

    What we have is a strong sellers market being offset with an increased awareness of risk by prospective purchasers.

    It could be worse – like in Calgary.

  23. From your linked article, it seems like the folks at the C. D. Howe Institute are trying to redefine the definition of a recession: “I’m not going to engage in the debate over what we actually call this,” he said recently. “No doubt, we have worked our way through a mild contraction.

  24. I wish that I shared your enthusiastic optimism … but I think that extenal market forces (such as the US economy) are not going to stimulate BC’s economy as much as you predict. The BC Gov has put most of their eggs in the LNG basket, rather than diversifying our economy.Too much reliance and resources and not enough secondary industries. High tech and making movies can only carry us so far. (Although tourism is booming, most of the related jobs are not well paid enough to support mortgages.)

  25. Last time it looks like MOI dove in 2001, but prices didn’t really take off until 2003. Say about 1.5 years…you might interpret differently.

  26. Perfect setup for BC since our economy is doing very well. The feds will have to keep stimulating, eventhough Canada is already turning the corner. A good example was 25 years ago when Canada’s pain was BC’s enormous gain. BC’s only problem is should we try to limit how many Easterners we want to take in?

    25 years ago we went from 1% population growth rates in the 80s, to five straight years of 3% growth rates by the early 90s.

  27. After eight years in an abusive relationship, you might want to question why you keep coming back?

  28. It’s been eight years of crash predictions, and in that time there has rarely been a “healthy mix” of viewpoints, in my humble opinion.

  29. There‘s typically a lag with price increases. Coming out of the last sideways market from ‘94-’01 was the same. However June’s 4.6% benchmark increase is a fair jump at this stage.

  30. Follow the money. Think of it as you’re giving these high-paid future office workers a nice place to live.
    “A record setting building boom will add over 700,000 square feet of modern office space to downtown Victoria and periphery neighbourhoods by 2020.
    Concurrent construction of multiple office buildings, together with projects recently occupied and projects planned to complete by 2020, will mark the most productive period for office development in the City of Victoria’s history.”

  31. I project my sales differently but I’m estimating 222 house sales in the core districts this month.

    MOI at 2.4
    NLS of 271:221 or 1.2:1
    DOM OF 20 days
    Median Sale Price at $612,000 for a 2,100 square foot home on a 7,500 square foot lot. The median Sales to Assessment Ratio stands at 110.8%

    Sales are up 9% from the same time last year for houses in the core. Same with the YoY median by 5.5% from $580,000. Same with YoY S/A ratio by 7% from 103.5% A big chunk of the sales activity has been in the $600,000 to $800,000 range. About a 42% increase over last year. Yet the mode has remained about the same. The graph of our house prices is nicely symmetrical with a fat right tail which is normal for real estate. Things look pretty nice just like you would find in a text book. -Which I find eerily uncomfortable.

    A strong sellers market but with stable prices over the last 6 months. That doesn’t make sense with affordability improving in the market. We should see month over month prices rising significantly. The overbids that we hear about are outlyers and seem to have very little effect on the general market conditions.

    In the past a balanced market with stable prices had between 5 to 7 MOI
    A new listings to sales ratio between 1.5 to 2.5
    and a Days on Market between 30 to 90 days.

    A strong sellers market historically has had the effect of raising prices significantly. My thoughts are that all the bad economic news has had an effect of adding risk to the marketplace and that’s whats keeping prices stable. We are seeing some of the psychological affects of low oil in Victoria. Prospective purchasers are not as confident in the housing market. The news media would have an affect on the decisions of prospective purchasers as they are bombarded by what low oil and a low loonie will mean to the economy.

    Maybe CMHC is seeing something along these lines too. And have chosen to loosen up on their lending guidelines to give the market a bit of a push but not too much. Or maybe CMHC was loosing too much market share to Genworth and Canada Guaranty. Who knows I missed last months meeting.

  32. … but compared to any other time in the past decade it will cost you less on a monthly basis to own a home.

    Actually, it was cheaper to buy a house last year. In 2014, the average single family house was $609,342 (inflation adjusted to $618,089 in June 2015 dollars). With 20% down and a 25-year mortgage at the prevailing average 5-year fixed rate of 4.08%, the monthly cost (2015 dollars) was $2631.89. This June, the average house price was $657,061 and the average 5-year fixed rate was 3.72% such that with 20% down and a 25-year mortgage, this works out to $2693.95 per month. That $62/month may not seem like much, but after 25 years it adds up to $18,600.

    Houses are getting more expensive again …

  33. As Victoria has no direct flights (that I know of), it would be interesting to track the number of direct flights from Vancouver to Fort McMurray. Less flights would be a clear indicator of what’s going in the the oil patch.

  34. Yup, I’m noticing an “uptick” of new listings in my PCS accounts since July 28th. We would need 1000 new listings (25% increase) added to the active listings market to consider it a spike …

  35. … people are only spending about 40% on their homes, and that looks slightly less or at least about the same as the average for the last 28 years.

    In June 2015 in Victoria, people were spending an average of 43% on a new mortgage on an average house in Victoria.

    Specifically, in June 2015 the average house price was $657,061 and the average 5-year fixed rate (CANSIM v122497) was 3.72% such that with 20% down, this works out to $2693.95 per month. In 2015 dollars, the twenty-eight year average is about $230 less at $2467.48 with the high in 2008 of $3484.11 and low in 1998 of $1921.28.

    Affordability (monthly payment as a percentage of gross average income) has been improving (decreasing) since 2007 (58.5%) to the current 43%. The best year for affordability was 2002 (37.1%).

  36. In line with your “Sales Predictions” I just noticed Van’s strength the past few days… it will be interesting to see if Vic shows as much strength for end of July.

    Past 3 days in Van…

    New Listings 205
    Price Changes 72
    Sold Listings 210

    New Listings 161
    Price Changes 58
    Sold Listings 207

    New Listings 148
    Price Changes 60
    Sold Listings 179

  37. That’s one way to look at it, or you could look at a brighter side…in that people are only spending about 40% on their homes, and that looks slightly less or at least about the same as the average for the last 28 years.
    Some other positives perhaps… we’re near full employment, average net worth continues rising, tech & tourism among other industries are booming, we live in one of the greatest cities (renting or owning) for relatively cheap… I don’t see much to complain about renting or owning. There’s never anything wrong with choosing to rent…with the number of times I’ve rented, I’m keenly aware of the advantages.

  38. This blog has been waiting for the crash that never happened for what, six years? … Low interest rates are the reason. I would have thought they would have gone up starting four years ago. They didn’t, they went down.

    This blog has always had a healthy mix of bears, bulls and halibut. 😉 This is the mix that has kept this blog going for so long. You are absolutely correct about the low rates. Government tinkering over the past 10 years (40-year amortization followed by “emergency” low rates, etc.) have created a housing market that has never been seen before. In 2010, I was expecting an interest rate increase that would cause a fast drop in prices (20%) followed by 5 years of stagnation (flat prices not matching inflation). The rate rise never happened, but we got the stagnation.

    The real truth is that if you buy you will stop caring as much about the market. You’re in. You’ll care about your monthly payments and appreciation but what the market is doing in the short-term will be moot.

    You may already know this, but I purchased in 2002 and finished paying off my mortgage earlier this year. So why do I still care? I see so many homeowners compromising their lifestyle in pursuit of a home of their “own”. I see banks getting record profits while businesses suffer, as homeowners have less to spend stimulating the local economy. Our manufacturing sector sucks, there’s high youth unemployment, and it’s harder for many to find stable employment. Many people are incurring huge debts and sacrificing their future economic stability.

    Home ownership costs a lot more than many people expect. I have always considered home ownership a rent-avoidance strategy rather than an investment. (That’s what my TFSA’s and RRSP’s are for!)

  39. No. It is factual information. This blog has been waiting for the crash that never happened for what, six years? The original owner moved and bought elsewhere and lost interest. Leo ran it and then bought in Victoria and lost interest in debating the matter.

    The truth is that there is only the deal of the day based on the facts as we know them and your financial and credit situation. Prices are high, but monthly payments are currently as affordable as ten years ago.

    Low interest rates are the reason. I would have thought they would have gone up starting four years ago. They didn’t, they went down. So we are where we are. Successive years of flat and now a rise in prices again while being as affordable as 2004.

    If you are waiting you may have passed the absolute “best” buying time. And a better one may never come in your buying window. So what. Rather than complaining about it endlessly make a decision. Renting is not a bad choice and, if you can afford it, neither is buying for many.

    The real truth is that if you buy you will stop caring as much about the market. You’re in. You’ll care about your monthly payments and appreciation but what the market is doing in the short-term will be moot.

  40. Actually they are bunk. There not helpful to the individual buyer. They are helpful in a sales pitch when a prospective purchaser remarks how expensive the property is. Then you can explain that homes have never been so affordable.

    Turn that negative statement into a positive.

  41. In fact, from the chart, it seems that now is the most affordable time to buy since 2004 in Victoria.

    At the end of 2014, the monthly payments (20% down, 25 year amortization) had returned to 2004 levels. Even with the low interest rates, the surge in prices over the past few months means that as of June 2015, we are back in to summer 2005 territory.

  42. From $17 million peak asking price to $7 million is a $10 million haircut is it not if we are talking the same place ? If the rich are taking big hits it usually is the canary in the coal mine.

  43. Not much of an issue, just a billion dollars worth of taxpayers insurance involved. Jeezuz, this is just the tip of the iceberg IMO. Imagine how many more mortgage brokers broke the rules on liar loans ? Multiply the 45 brokers times much more and we are talking multiple billions. Run along folks, it’s only billions of your tax money about to blow up.

  44. Yes, sort of.

    House prices have risen relative to income over the decades, but compared to any other time in the past decade it will cost you less on a monthly basis to own a home.

    It is more affordable, but the purchase price has not become cheaper.

    At the end of the day affordability is an important measure and impacts the market, particularly for those with a large mortgage.

    Purchase price becomes a more important variable if you have a huge down payment.

  45. Housing is affordable but not cheap.

    All the affordability index is measuring is the ability to make the payments. It isn’t saying housing is cheap.

  46. Thanks for setting Jack straight. I remember how people used those affordability ratios back in 2007/08 to claim bubble (I was one of them), but now that they show Victoria as relatively affordable, they must be bunk.

  47. No-one is saying housing is “cheap”: it has been appreciating faster than inflation for decades now (5.4% average appreciation vs. 3.26% average inflation rate). It is just more affordable based on monthly costs compared to past years in this market.

    What has happened is that the purchase price has increased but interest rates have dropped while incomes have risen. Overall less of your monthly income will go to housing costs in Victoria if you buy now vs. the past ten years because of the lower interest rates.

    Of course, if interest rates rise rapidly and you are on a variable the reverse this would no longer be true.

  48. “?! It’s rarely been this affordable (cheap).”

    So you’re saying housing is cheap.

  49. Um, no. Completely wrong and misleading JJ.

    The stats are median household income vs. cost of median home not based on information taken from mortgage applications but from Stats Can income data and home sales data from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

    More particularly the chart shows the proportion of median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and utilities on a detached bungalow, a standard two storey home and a standard condo (excluding maintenance fees) at the going market prices.

    The qualifier ‘standard’ is meant to distinguish between an average dwelling and an ‘executive’ or ‘luxury’ version. In terms of square footage, a standard
    condo has an inside floor area of 900 square feet, a bungalow 1,200 square feet, and a standard two-storey 1,500 square feet.

    The measures are based on a 25% down payment, a 25-year mortgage loan at a five-year fixed rate.

    Prices are more affordable for the median income household than they have been in BC for some time, except for Vancouver. In fact, from the chart, it seems that now is the most affordable time to buy since 2004 in Victoria.

  50. Yeah, the information is collected from mortgage applications.

    From information supplied by the banks and brokers of people who applied for a mortgage. It shouldn’t be a surprise that most are going to meet the minimum debt service ratio.

    This doesn’t mean housing is cheap.

    Just that those buying a home today meet the minimum requirements of the mortgage insurance companies or are putting down larger down payments.

    But it does make a good response to when someone says that housing is expensive. Then you can reply that housing has never been more affordable.

    What it means is a million dollar home is affordable to those looking to buy a million dollar home.

  51. No, it’s a direct measure of homeownership costs as a percent of taxable income… includes mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities.

  52. What you’re trying to do is to match the real estate board’s monthly numbers that they publish on the 1st of each month. They too are estimating sales for the month as they have to get the report together and proof read it before publication. That takes a couple of days. You’re probably back engineering their formula.

    Which I think is even cooler. You could bet on what the VREB numbers will be and be right most of the time. Work on this a bit more and then we’re going to VEGAS.

  53. That graph isn’t saying housing is cheap, Just that more people applying for a mortgage today meet the minimum requirements. Information garnered from applications supplied by say Home Capital.

  54. Last thread someone said…
    “Don’t kid yourself, property right now is extremely expensive no matter what metric levels you compare them to.”

    ?! It’s rarely been this affordable (cheap).

  55. The stock is up over 10% today, must not be much of an issue. Likely just some bears trying to profit behind the story 😉

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