April Flowers May Madhouse

I’m not good at rhyming.

The market pulled out a surprise bump in the last week to exceed the already incredibly high sales projections we’ve been putting out all month.  1286 sales.  All of the 2000s we never broke 1000 sales, and even in the next strongest April (1991) we only had 1003.

Meanwhile inventory has actually decreased from March to April.  That has literally never happened in Victoria as far as I can tell.   It’s not because of a lack of new listings either.  They are coming on at quite a reasonable clip but sales are just so high that nothing is building up.

Taking a look at the months of inventory and the associated effect on price, we see the parabolic curve continuing.  Sustainable?  Definitely not.  But so far no sign of slowing.

If we increase the rolling average to 12 months, we see how the trend in both price and months of inventory is only getting stronger.

Meanwhile the paradox of the foreign buyer continues.   We hear of people being outbid on the ground by Vancouver buyers.  On this blog we see comments of Vancouverites taking on the pilgrimage on BC Ferries in order to bid over ask on countless properties.  We hear hushed conversations in coffee shops about the neighbours place that sold in 24 hours and to… shhh… outsiders.

On the other hand we hear from the VREB that 72.5% of buyers in 2016 were locals, which is an increase from the 70.5% we had last year.    Yes in terms of actual buyers on the ground there are more out of town buyers since the total sales are up, but fundamentally, this market is still primarily driven by local buyers.   The outside buyers might have been the catalyst for this fire but locals are keeping it going and are paying those over asks more than anyone else.

Meanwhile some chatter about whether this a supply driven or demand driven market.   While any real economist would be groaning at the misuse of those terms, it is interesting to see the difference between the hot market in the mid 2000s and now based on new listings and sales.   While market conditions were similarly hot, in the 2000s we had a low rate of new listings and relatively high sales to create those conditions, while currently we are getting properties listed at a pretty high rate, but sales are just so extremely high that they all get absorbed immediately.


The market summary has more charts.  At this rate I am going to have to slot some more adjectives below ludicrous into the code and make the price predictor more fine grained.  In this market I think the 14% annual increase for SFHs is significantly too conservative.

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108 thoughts on “April Flowers May Madhouse

  1. 320 people did not get the memo about the so called crash coming. Same crap for 5 or more years on here. I guess if you keep predicting it you will be right a few times in ones life.

  2. Mon May 9, 2016:

    May May
    2016 2015
    Net Unconditional Sales: 320 905
    New Listings: 392 1,485
    Active Listings: 2,533 4,043

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

  3. I can see that happening if the NDP get back in power and foreign investment / money laundering is curtailed. I think the politicians will make every effort to avoid cracking down but with all the attention these days the old excuses are wearing thin. If we returned to traditional metrics then the drop could be huge. We are all so conditioned to these big numbers (while we have the lowest rates ever) but it doesn’t mean they make sense. That being said things could go on as they are for years.

  4. @Bizznitch: 70% in Van & 30-45% here?!!! You can’t be serious about those #’s! 70% drop means that my parents’ home on the North Shore would be worth 10% less than what they bought for in 2006! So we’re going back to 2005 prices? I don’t pretend to know the future, but those figures are rather apocalyptic!

  5. @Vicinvestor said: “how much and when?”

    And spoil the surprise?! 😉

    Obviously like everyone else I’m talking out of my a– and have no idea. Van’s a special place and will always be out of reach for most. But I think it’s now passed the point where things could cool down in an orderly fashion. Believe it was Dasmo that said Van is broken – I agree.

    If I had to bet on it, I’d say it can only end in fireworks.

  6. VicInvestor: Wouldn’t surprise me if YVR crashed 70%. Victoria will probably decline 30-45%.

  7. Whatever they do, they’ll be sure to minimize any loss in property values of existing owners as it would be political suicide.

    I think the drop in Van will come, and I think it will be spectacular, but I don’t see it being triggered by government.

  8. My guess is that the province implements some sort of tax on foreign buyers similar to the one proposed by ubc professors (1.5%) prior to the next year’s election. It would take the wind out of the ndp’s sails, raise some money for services, appease locals’ concerns, and yet have minimal real impact on affordability (but voters won’t realize it until after the election).

  9. Hawk, I agree but the timing is impossible to predict and could go on for a lot longer, though I do see a lot of smoke (stories like the ones you posted) these days…

  10. It is what it is. A self made crisis that will sooner than later implode itself.

    Foreign buyers crushing home dreams in Vancouver as Canada, B.C. do zip: study

    VANCOUVER — The Canadian and British Columbia governments are complicit in fuelling Vancouver’s housing crisis as foreign Chinese buyers continue to shut local residents out of the market, a new study says.

    “People recognize what’s going on, and they’re willing to call a spade a spade,” he said, stressing that such views are based on reality, not racism.”

    “Gordon said his report blames Vancouver’s housing crisis on foreign buyers, particularly from China, because “this is where the evidence points, not because of some anti-Chinese animus.”


  11. This should be interesting.

    Panama Papers names to be made public tomorrow

    Journalist group plans to publish identities of people behind more than 200,000 offshore accounts

    “Kim Marsh, a Vancouver-based expert on international financial crime who spent 25 years with the RCMP, said concerns over the anonymity of high-end property buyers in Canadian cities shows the issue cuts close to home.

    “We only have to look at what’s happening in the property market in B.C., Toronto, elsewhere…. They don’t want their names associated with properties, so they’ll set up a nominee situation,” he said, referring to the registration of a corporation using a figurehead to disguise the real owners. “And there’s lots of controversy about that.”


  12. @mooselessness – if there was a “like” button for comments I would have clicked it 🙂

  13. One of my favourite memories of Silver Spray was standing on that furthest point, watching a sleek black bird struggle its hardest to fly against the whipping wind.

    Its wings beat furiously, but it was not moving forward at all. All that energy just to hang in place.

    Then, as though recognizing the futility, it stopped and flipped around to face other direction. It instantly flashed to top speed and vanished, like the Millennium Falcon jumping to hyperspace.

  14. The sales in the urban area of Sooke has increased dramatically over last year.

    A 600% increase in year over year sales in February! Which sounds impressive until you realize the increase was from 2 to 14 house sales. But that trend continued through March and April with almost double the urban house sales over the previous years.

    New listing also increased but not at such a fast pace. The months of inventory for houses in the urban areas is down to 2.35. That is the lowest since April 2007.

    Year over year and month over month prices are up. The median price in April was $421,500. That is the second highest April in a decade for urban Sooke.

    I suppose people in Sooke are blaming their high prices on the rich Victorians moving there and pricing the locals out of the market.

    If you really want to know what it is like to live on the ocean take a drive out to the Silver Spray development in East Sooke on a windy day. DO NOT take small children or small pets with you unless you have a strong leash attached. It’s awesome.

  15. Bear Mountain

    This one subdivision has almost the same number of listings as the entire Township of Oak Bay.

    35 listings ranging from a low of $465,000 to a high of 1.7 million. The typical home was built in 2006 and is 3,000 finished square feet. And you pay about the same price as a house in a 40 year old subdivision in Gordon Head. Non rush hour commuting time to the downtown core is about 25 minutes. You can double that time for rush hour but with the proposed interchange that may end. A self sufficient community with lots of amenities, schools, shopping, cinemas so that it isn’t necessary to travel to Victoria’s downtown core once you’re home. I have seen a few pan-handlers but far fewer than in Victoria. It still is possible to get from a parking lot to the grocery store without being approached.

    New listings in April were slightly down from last year from 21 to 19

    In contrast sales are slightly up from last year from 10 to 12 in April but they did jump for one month in March when they went from 4 to 21.

    The result is active listing in the month of April declined from the year before from 54 to 36. As did the months of inventory from 5.4 to 3.0. That’s a significant recovery when the MOI in March was a low 1.7

    Market exposure is down from the year before and the previous month and now is around 29 days-on-the-market.

    New listings to sales ratio of 19:12 or 1.6:1
    MOI is now at 3.0
    DOM at 29

    This is market that favors sellers but not at the extreme end of the scale. Adequate selection, good supply coming to the market on a regular basis and buyers are not usually hurried into a bad decision or a bidding war in an auction. Buyers can be a little more finicky in their purchases. If you bought at the high end of the market you might still have to take a loss on the original purchase price but most middle income households will be on the plus side of appreciation.

    And prices?

    The median is about the same as last year in April at $830,000 but up quite a bit from the month before when the median was $765,000.

    The median sales to assessment ratio is up from 108% a year and 106% in March to around 113% in April. That’s about a year over year increase of 5% and a month over month increase of 6.5%.

    March was an unusual month for Bear Mountain as it was for most of Victoria city. But after a splurge in sales activity the market in Bear Mountain seems to be returning to the more balanced position between buyer and seller as seen over the last several years. There have also been 17 price reductions over the last 30 days. All of this may result in a lower month over month median and sales to assessment ratio for May.

  16. Vicbot,

    Agreed, it’s so bad, like a train wreck waiting to happen. Just another sign of a top to me that they want to publicly flaunt their wealth and expertise when a 10 year old could sell a house right now. Coming soon: Shadow Flippers Gone Wild, as they laugh in the face of Christy Clark’s weak assed new “rules” that do absolutely nothing.

  17. A nice Vancouver house story from today’s G&M (and there was an early story about this house sale on April 22nd G&M). Note that someone from Vancouver island did approach the selling agent to move the house, before it went to the final buyer (who’s offer is $1M more than asking, but still over $100K lower than the highest bidder). It was nice that the selling agent cut his commission to make sure the particular buyers have the house, as they will preserve it, rather than tearing it down.

    We do also have some beautiful MCM houses here in Victoria. Hopefully they will be preserved.


  18. Keywords are different from search options – so someone could search for 2+ bathrooms, and then also enter a keyword. To be honest the reason why people like ensuites is because they can leave them messy and “enjoy” them in privacy, so only 1 bathroom needs to be “tidier” for guests. They were the first extra bathrooms added in the 1960s, before they even added family rooms.

    Hawk, interesting realty show – don’t know whether to laugh or cringe. After the last similar realty show (Rich Asian Girls of Van), one girl’s dad was killed in West Van over a dispute over money. One can only hope to see a police raid on one of their offices 🙂

  19. Interesting…. So not “bathrooms” or “ensuite bathrooms” then…. Good cause I’m only building two bathrooms with no ensuite…

  20. CREA has just published the top five keywords used by searchers on REALTOR.ca in each of the larger Canadian markets for Q1 2016. Here they are for Victoria:

    In-Law Suite
    Pet Friendly
    Insuite laundry
    Rental Suite

  21. What would happen if the market never slowed down?

    If the months of inventory was under a week? If There was very little new listings and market exposure was measured in hours rather than days?

    You would have a line of cars following behind every real estate agent on his way to list a new home. Yet there still would be a limit to what people could finance. The rest would have to come from a massive down payment.

  22. I’ve been following the news about Fort McMurray and trying to wrap my head around the scale of devastation. Can someone use Victoria as a reference? How big is 1600 homes? Is that like saying Langford has been wiped out, or just Bear Mountain? I do realize 80,000 people evacuated is equivalent to the population of Saanich or thereabouts.

  23. The core markets consist of Oak Bay, Victoria, Esquimalt, View Royal and Saanich. Two-thirds of all the house sales since January happened in the core districts this year.

    Broadmead, Cordova Bay are in the core but Tanner Ridge is in the Peninsula.

    You seem to be interested in Tanner Ridge so here’s some data. There have been 12 house sales so far this year ranging from $509,000 top $1,075,000. The median price is $660,000 that got you a 25 year old, 2,200 square foot home on an 8,700 square foot lot on Wilcox Terrace or what you would pay close to a million for in Oaklands these days.

    For those that of you who never leave the city and therefore think it is the best place in the world. Tanner Ridge is 15 kilometers north of Oaklands near Keating Cross Road. Some brave souls actually bike to work from there into the city. That is to say many start out each day and some don’t arrive thanks to Victoria city’s policy of having bike lanes end at the bumper of a parked van. Lots of farm land, fresh air and no pan-handlers.

    It’s one of those communities where the bad kids are the ones that are not in 4-H club. Where the kids have a different kind of idea of what grass is than in the city. And the municipality doesn’t whore itself out to developers. Think Wally and the Beav in gumboots.

  24. Offered on a house yesterday full price. Seems they would only take full price if no conditions. My only conditions was an inspection, not the sale of a home, not financing nothing but an inspection. I can not blame the seller as it will likely sell with no inspection. That said if people are willing to drop 900K with out even doing basic due diligence to ensure there are not things like buried oil tanks or faulty electrical it seems there is still a sellers market out there which is not going to slow down anytime soon no matter what anybody’s stats say.

  25. As long as the market favors sellers prices should rise. I don’t know where you read that was downward pressure on prices?

    These are the median prices for the core for the last 11 months. Prices don’t seem to be rising as fast in March and April as they did at the beginning of the year.

    Month Sale Price, Median
    Jun 2015 $629,450
    Jul 2015 $610,000
    Aug 2015 $659,500
    Sep 2015 $640,000
    Oct 2015 $677,250
    Nov 2015 $620,550

    Dec 2015 $672,500
    Jan 2016 $655,500 -up 2.6%
    Feb 2016 $681,500 -up 3.9%
    Mar 2016 $740,000 -up 8.6%
    Apr 2016 $758,000 -up 2.4%

    How about the pace of sales?

    Month Sales, Number of
    Jan 122
    Feb 228 up 87%
    Mar 318 up 39%
    Apr 377 up 18.5%

    Demand seems to be slowing along with higher prices as we head into the summer market. That should allow active listing to increase and move us back towards a balanced market or a t least remove some of the panic buying and excesses in the marketplace. That alone should moderate price growth over the summer.

    Like what happened last year…,

    Month Sale Price, Median 2015
    Jan $542,500
    Feb $597,500
    Mar $625,000
    Apr $631,200

    May $620,250
    Jun $629,450
    Jul $610,000

    Aug $659,500
    Sep $640,000
    Oct $677,250
    Nov $620,550
    Dec $672,500

  26. Just Jack: it’s “out of balance” in favour of sellers, not buyers. This is upward pressure, not downwards. It will restabilize eventually, yes, but at higher prices.

  27. Is there a price range for houses that is hotter than others?

    Over the last two months the hottest price range that had the most sales in Saanich East and Victoria also had one of the highest sales to assessment ratios.

    Homes in the $700,000 to $800,000 range. Buyers were paying a median 30 percent over assessed value.

    On the other end of the spectrum those buying homes in the $400,0000 to $500,000 range in Saanich East and Victoria paid just 11% over assessed value.

  28. Which neighbourhoods are “the core”, specifically? Are Cordova Bay, Broadmead etc. included or do they fall outside? Tanner Ridge?

  29. The new listings to sales ratio for Greater Victoria was 97:37 or 2.6:1 yesterday.

    For detached houses it broke down to 54:17 or 3.2:1
    Condos 22:15 or 1.5:1
    Town homes was 10 new listing to 3 sales or 3.3:1

    282 houses for sale in the core districts
    351 houses for sale in the Western Communities
    116 houses in the Peninsula

    Active listings for the month of April were low. About half of what they had been averaging over the previous five years for April, but they were not the lowest we have ever had. That happened back in 2007 and 2008. Then prices began to decline and active listings increased to the highest level in a decade.

    The market will move back to a balanced position between buyers and sellers because it always has.

    That doesn’t help anyone who is buying today since you have to pay today’s price. But if you’re in the business of lending money or buying second and third mortgages you might want to be more cautious.

    At one time, the banks asked the appraiser if they would recommend an 80% loan to value ratio on a property. If I were asked that today I would say no. Until this market moves back to a balance position between buyer and seller I would’t recommend a loan to value ratio greater than 65%. The same with home equity lines. It would be prudent for a lender to reduce the HELOC in these hot hoods until the market evens itself out again.

  30. I’m not sure know how that sale on Upper Terrace shows the market is on fire?

    It certainly didn’t sell at full price or under two weeks. And it isn’t the highest price paid in that neighborhood or the highest paid over assessed value or the highest price paid per finished square foot.

    Nothing wrong with being a cheerleader. But I think most of us are losing the shock and awe of multi million dollar purchases when it comes to the more unique properties in Greater Victoria.

  31. 3435 Upper Terrace Road sold for 5.123m. The high end of the market was lagging at the start of the year, but it’s caught fire over the past month.

  32. No single statistic has any greater validity over another. Be it a median, average or benchmark. It is necessary to look at all the data and reconcile it.

    I have seen price plateaus in hot markets. They stay at one level for awhile and then move on as buyers accept the sticker shock of new listing prices. I’ve also seen price plateaus in housing styles as buyers bid up one style of home and when that style becomes too expensive, buyers switch to another. It’s the same for neighborhoods.

    Beef gets too expensive then you buy chicken. Premium gas becomes too expensive then you switch to regular. Switching from one to another removes the pressure on beef and premium gas to keep skyrocketing in price.

    Another name for market value is alternate value. As one good becomes too expensive or scarce then you switch to an alternate good or service. Markets are all about choices.

    The noise is the interesting stuff.

  33. It is crazy how fast it shifted. I guess all the weed shops saw success fast and needed to expand their grow ops ASAP….

  34. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no such thing as a price plateau in a hot market. If you’re looking for one you will find one because sales are scarce and that makes the data highly variable. Humans are great at picking out patterns in noise.
    The only way you’re going to get a price plateau is when the market cools down.

  35. JJ, I’d like to believe that price appreciation in Oak Bay has been more reasonable, but honestly the VREB stats don’t show any stagnation for benchmark SFHs:
    Dec 2015 $848,400
    Jan 2016 $857,300
    Feb 2016 $881,500
    Mar 2016 $924,000
    Apr 2016 $967,700

    These numbers closely resemble the data I’ve been tracking in our neighbourhood, where sale prices have averaged $200k to $300k above assessed in spring 2016. (Again, I’m not a fan of the crazy prices, just the facts on the ground)

    Maybe it’s because you were tracking median prices instead of benchmark? In Oak Bay, it can be hard to use medians because of the huge range of properties for sale (small bungalows to seaside mansions) – with medians, several sales in the millions of $ or in the $900k range in 1 month can skew the data.

  36. Maybe the leveling off in Van is due to some success with stemming the flow of cash out of China via Honk Kong.

    Hong Kong cracks down on illegal money flows from China trade

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong is conducting a multi-pronged customs, shipping and financial sector crackdown against so-called fake trade invoicing that allows billions of dollars of capital to leave China illegally.


  37. I used to own a house but it seems, based on descriptions, that I own a shack. I’m one of those with a 8000 sq ft lot and small 3 bdrm bungalow (but it’s a cute, updated shack) where the house is about 15% of the value. Many of my neighbours are the same. I would have a laneway house (well, it would be beside my house, and a bit behind) built but everyone, including a builder I spoke with, told me that dealing with ‘city hall’ is not fun. Two of my neighours are currently doing some building and they have confirmed the lack of fun. I don’t have the time for nonsense. But there is definitely lots of land.

  38. “How do I know this.. Because you said “many” and “a few””

    The “few” will become “many” when the market eventually turns.

    “Prices should be going ballistic but instead they seem to have leveled out.”

    Looks like we’ve reached the affordability level for even the filthy rich or what they call the “puke factor”. AKA the max point to be a seller.

    Once the headlines scream inventory building in Van you will see the floodgates open wide here from the flippers and fence sitters.

  39. I don’t mean to sound snarky. I almost bought a house on Cowper, after all. I’m just shocked at how quickly things have changed.

  40. Yeah Tillicum’s great, sure.

    You have to compromise on something. I am in Saanichton with a 20-25ish minute commute. Would prefer to be in Oak Bay but I don’t feel like spending more than double for the same house/lot size.

  41. A home recently sold on Wilmer for $830,000 (asking $799,000)…..I had the house NEXT DOOR (more finished sq/ft, mint condition, same size lot), listed in 2012 for $619,000. We had an accepted offer in the low 600s and the buyers walked away over a few thousand in inspection deficiencies that we couldn’t reach agreement on.

    Lost so many deals over the years on inspection items <$10,000 buyer and seller could not reach agreement on, now you are lucky if the seller picks your unconditional offer……..how the times have changed.

  42. The listings are so thin in Oak Bay/Fairfield/Gonzales that it’s hard to know what’s going on. Bring up 4+ bed 2+ bath on realtor.ca for under $900k and see what shows up in Oak Bay, Gonzales, Fairfield, Jubilee, Fernwood, James Bay. Ghost town.

    Those are some prime areas….why can’t a family live in the Tillicum area for example?

  43. JD I agree .. and that was my point about nose-bleed seats…
    Land gets it’s value based on location…as do seat tickets…

    Making 3000 sq lots available… doesn’t lower the value of land…it just makes it more accessible to more buyers with a lower budget…(the sum total is probably is the same before the buildings are added)

  44. db,

    Langford/Colwood is a different market than the core. Plenty of people would rather buy suitable small lot or multi in the core than endure the drive.

  45. Just Jack… You make a good point about increasing density by making it easier on builders..

    But are buyers really looking for properties on 3000 ft lots?
    Plenty of those in the western communities…

    There are plenty of nose-bleed seats at sporting events left empty as well for a reason…

  46. The listings are so thin in Oak Bay/Fairfield/Gonzales that it’s hard to know what’s going on. Bring up 4+ bed 2+ bath on realtor.ca for under $900k and see what shows up in Oak Bay, Gonzales, Fairfield, Jubilee, Fernwood, James Bay. Ghost town. I think there are 2 listings in that category south of Fort St or east of Cadboro Bay. That’s list, not sale price. We’re down to basically zero 4+ bed 2+ bath family houses in the core for much under a million. I think the demand is for reasonable single family houses that are even within affordability’s reach. I think part of the let-off is that there’s nothing good out there. The product that families are looking for is virtually unavailable unless you’re dropping a million plus.

    I do hope that it lets off somewhat; I have friends looking unsuccessfully for rentals and purchases alike. It would be horrible to devolve into a full blown housing crisis. The vacancy rate is zero. We need to be building more appealing, family friendly 3 and 4 bedroom density to reduce some of the pressure. I don’t think we’ll really head back to super-affordable SFH in the core unfortunately.

    “We don’t have a land problem in the city what we have is a problem with city planners.”

    Replace that with politicians and you’ll be closer to the truth. Planners will scream all day that we need density. Politicians? Not so much.

  47. JJ

    I appreciate that but still with this “hot” market you would have expected the so called I have to live there to be a somebody area, to have a rising median price from the April Number to the Dec Number.

  48. GWAC, I said the data is weak. There are only 40 to 50 sales a month in Oak Bay and the prices can range over hundreds of thousands. You might want to think in terms of three or six months for trends and not in months.

  49. The amount of land is fixed but that’s not what causes shortages. What causes shortages is the availability of appropriately zoned and ready to build on land. And that can change dramatically.

    Victoria has a lot of small old houses siting on 7,000 square foot lots. The improvements to the land only add marginally to the value of the property as a whole. When the improvements only constitute less that 15% of the total value that should make them tear downs for builders. But that’s not what is happening. Some are torn down but most are bought by entrepreneurs who slap some paint and drop in some floors to revitalize these old shacks. And that drives the prices of these infill lots to new highs as builder and home owners compete against each other.

    If cities would make it less costly, in time and money, on builders then you would see a lot more land become available for new construction. And making land available for new construction as well as rezoning is creating new land. Just by decreasing the minimum lot size from 7,000 to 3,000 square foot lots you can double your land units without expanding the city boundaries.

    We don’t have a land problem in the city what we have is a problem with city planners.

  50. @Rover

    That’s a good observation and I was hoping someone would bring it up.
    It does look like prices have plateaued in what are some of the hottest hoods. But the data is still weak.

    Oak Bay house medians based on 140 sales

    Month Sale Price, Median
    Dec 2015 $1,100,000
    Jan 2016 $1,150,000
    Feb 2016 $1,029,000
    Mar 2016 $1,104,500
    Apr 2016 $1,060,000

    This is surprising since the number of sales in Oak Bay has been increasing since the beginning of the year. New listings are just matching sales and there is less than a month of inventory. Intense pressure for prices to be skyrocketing – but they’re not.

    Victoria City proper house medians based on 200 sales

    Month Sale Price, Median
    Dec 2015 $600,000
    Jan 2016 $515,000
    Feb 2016 $749,900
    Mar 2016 $800,000
    Apr 2016 $748,000

    Sales have been increasing while new listings have declined and we’re down to 1 new listing for every sale. And only 1 month of inventory. Market exposure has moved up a few days. Prices should be going ballistic but instead they seem to have leveled out.

    Some areas are still increasing but I expect that they will also plateau. New listings to sales seem to have stabilized over March and April but inventory remains in the basement with only 1 month available.

    Saanich East house medians based on 430 sales
    Month Sale Price, Median
    Dec 2015 $677,500
    Jan 2016 $684,000
    Feb 2016 $739,000
    Mar 2016 $751,500
    Apr 2016 $797,500

    Maybe those Vancouverites are not as rich as we were led to believe!?

  51. Hawk.. I am so glad you agreed with me.. 🙂

    How do I know this.. Because you said “many” and “a few”

    You didn’t say “They all” or “The majority”

  52. @Hawk: yes, I know several examples of insane & uncomfortable leverage in Vancouver RE. So far, they’re rich on paper and very exuberant (perhaps irrationally so!). But, I agree that it’s a very dangerous game, esp. given that many have all eggs in one basket. Even my own parents won’t take my advice of diversifying away from R/E (they’re 100%!) The ROI has been monstrous & I’ve been wrong year & year again. But who knows where we’ll end up.

  53. “Higher end investors are not constrained by financing…”

    Depends on how much land they buy. Many a millionaire is leveraged to the hilt on margin and seen a few lose it all.

  54. Higher end investors are not constrained by financing…

    (and they do understand 0 yield on cash at banks)

  55. Hawk…Land is a fixed measurement…the dollar doesn’t have any fixed measure..
    or to say it in plain English

    You can’t print land 😉

  56. So, like tracking insiders, Follow the money..and hence why I asked awhile back,,,doesn’t the number of high end sales resemble the 2000-2001 push?

    This is interesting. Although I doubt that the factor you are looking for (are higher end investors ahead of the trend) will be apparent out of all the other factors (variability in high end property, low sales numbers, etc).

  57. “LAND, they aren’t making any more of it) The adage isn’t Houses..it is LAND..”

    But the only reason the land went up is because interest rates went down to try and juice the economy. Rover’s stats are very telling if Vancouver areas are showing rising inventory.

    Now that it looks like most of Canada is not doing well then what will happen when BC’s economy which is built mainly on real estate and panic buying gives up the ghost ?

    Loonie’s world-beating rally wanes as Canadian economy flags

    “The currency has posted its worst two-day decline in more than a year after data showed that Canada’s trade deficit widened to a record in March, dragged down by a plunge in exports to the U.S., the country’s largest trading partner. With an employment report Friday expected to show job creation also slowed, analysts say the economic momentum that drove the currency’s four-month rally may be set to flag.”


  58. It was so cute when one could buy a house in Gordon Head for $500k-something, as we did around the previous peak. This spring, all home sales around us have been in the $700,000s — all selling for multiple tens of thousands over asking and all in single-digit days.

  59. Here is another observation that I recall in 2000-2001…the million dollar homes started selling in numbers in Victoria..ie: there was an uptick… I argued with a broker that it probably indicated prices were soon going to move because it meant to me that moneyed people knew where to position and they were voting with their pocketbooks not their mouths.. he argued against that based on incomes, interest rates, etc.. a friend took me up on that observation and bought against his mother’s advice (she was a real estate agent as well and proponent of the income-cash flow basis of valuations). He came to realize, when there is a physical limit to expansion/supply, prices have to compensate. (isn’t the old adage.. LAND, they aren’t making any more of it) The adage isn’t Houses..it is LAND..

    So, like tracking insiders, Follow the money..and hence why I asked awhile back,,,doesn’t the number of high end sales resemble the 2000-2001 push?

  60. I brought up that period because I also recall people on ferries in the mid-90’s talking about selling in Vancouver and buying in Victoria-Mill Bay (ie, Arbutus Ridge). Comments I overheard which resonated with me were: “just bought property on the Island because we are retiring in 5 years and will transition over there and it is cheaper now than Vancouver”

    PS.. I up-scaled and bought a rental property on that info.. BWDIK?

  61. To play the devil’s advocate, when you say, “Will the private lenders keep doling out the easy money with more huge gains making average monthly mortgage payments for Victorians in the $4000 range based on even a $100K household income ? ” The easy answer is that this is seeming what happened in Vancouver but the chances are that, in reality, people are either trading up or using their parent’s equity for down payments so that the actual monthly mortgage payments being made are much lower.

    Last night I had conversation with a fellow who argued, basically, that the trend is your friend. I argued that the shear weight of the overvaluation will eventually be felt, which is to say that market forces will prevail, but it is an argument that has failed to play out for a very long time in Vancouver. Fundamentals will have their day, but that day may be a long way off.

  62. It’s pretty apparent Mike got extremely lucky in that call or other wise he would have been buying up Oak Bay SFH’s en masse and not transitional flop houses in Vic West.

    For the blow off top chart to continue higher you have to ask yourself some serious questions.

    Do you really think that the Vancouver chart is not anywhere near the top ? If you do please explain in detail, not just based on hope.

    Do you really think banks are going to keep out giving out mortgages with another 17 to 25% increase in the next year ?

    Will the private lenders keep doling out the easy money with more huge gains making average monthly mortgage payments for Victorians in the $4000 range based on even a $100K household income ? Home Capital continues to get it’s ass handed to them down again today and getting more downgrades while explaining why they handed out $2 Billion in fraudulent loans. Who else has been doing this ?

    Do you assume that if China real estate crashes and the astronaut families have no job back home or business goes under that they wouldn’t be forced to sell off Vancouver properties?

    Will the US raise interest rates twice this year (thus forcing up mortgage rates here), or head into a recession and have it’s own housing correction ? One of the two is going to happen. Either will effect prices to the downside here.

    You have to assume the BC government going into an election year ( as well as Justin) will do absolutely nothing to try and contain this ?

    You have to assume the buying pool is infinite even with another 17 to 25% increase with almost zero wage growth.

    Those are alot of high risk assumptions.


  63. That’s an interesting notion and one I have been pondering for a couple days now. In light of the increased values in Vic approaching mainland money, I took a look at the GVREB data, and found that the places that saw the biggest bumps in demand and price are now lagging.

    South Delta, as an example, was the regional leader in price increases pretty much a couple years running. And for those years, the new listings to sales ratio pretty much mimicked what we are seeing here now: 1:1 or less, and the sell through rate was 98%. IIRC, Tsawwassen specifically saw 84 listings and 82 sales in April, 2015. But April 2016? 155 listings, 86 sales. The days on market is increasing. The sale prices are now averaging 28k under asking. And it seems to get worse the more upmarket you go. In West Van something like 20% of all listings sold in April.

    It looks like it started this spring, and seems like the trend is continuing with more listings piling up. Reports sale South Delta now has 3 MOI and almost a 2:1 list:sale ratio.

    Now obviously the inference one COULD draw is that the much discussed ripple is withdrawing from the areas it hit hardest while the outlying, more affordable areas like Langley remain strong.

    Am I crazy? Am I reading the numbers wrong? And if not, how will a cooling high-end Vancouver market effect Victoria?

  64. Here is a question for the bears to ponder…

    Looking at Michael’s chart…there was a huge spread between Vancouver and Victoria between 1995 and 2000…Vancouver declined and Victoria was flat…(was it Vancouverites re-locating?)

    So if Vancouver corrects going forward, is it theoretically possible the worst case scenario is a repeat of that period?

  65. Can you correlate Victoria and Vancouver annual price increases?

    Sure. Just have to find a source for the Vancouver data.

    since when did buyers from the other side of the pond become foreign buyers?

    Victorians are scared of people from Esquimalt. Anyone further than that is foreign.

    in 2003 there was Bubble Talk in Victoria. And it took 3(?) more years past that. However this round the increases are significantly higher.

    They are on an absolute basis but percentage wise it might be quite similar.

  66. Michael it’s crazy how right you’ve been about the market since you started posting mid last year. Your ridiculous and sometimes comical forecasts have so far been playing out in real time.

  67. I can’t see any reason why we would diverge from the 10-4 pattern we’ve been in for over 50 years, especially with the bulge of the boomers only age 56/57. As you can see the ~10up is typically between a double to triple.

  68. Admin:

    Can you correlate Victoria and Vancouver annual price increases?

    If the data also is easy to implement perhaps it’s work exploring Vancouver vs Victoria monthly sales for the past year.

    Also, since when did buyers from the other side of the pond become foreign buyers?

    Lastly, in 2003 there was Bubble Talk in Victoria. And it took 3(?) more years past that. However this round the increases are significantly higher.

    Defer to VicInvestor1983. No one knows. But data is data…

  69. @Sidekick Spliff
    You are asking blog members to speculate the future. No one knows.

    Firstly, we don’t even know if the government is going to implement any new taxes or restrictions. And, even if they do, it is very difficult to predict the impact of any new rules.

    Your “sell or hold” question should be answered based on your individual life circumstance. Don’t try to time markets. Rational & logical arguments could be made for both a bubble & a RE price boom. The bubble talk in Vancouver has been going on for a long time. Look what has happened to prices even in the last 5 years! Did anyone predict this? Of course not. I don’t even think the bulls knew how bullish the market would be.

    If you have a primary residence where you are happy, just stay & enjoy life. If you are thinking of leveraging to invest in a speculative manner, make sure you can handle any big losses, both financially & psychologically.

  70. What happens to Victoria when the foreign ownership in Vancouver is taxed? Does it make a difference? Does it trickle down to cool Victoria? Interest rates aren’t going up anytime soon (according to the SFU article), so the most likely ‘knob’ being turned will be the foreign ownership taxation.

    To sell or to hold…

  71. Reasonfirst,
    I agree with you, a 96 yr old dad is kind of extenuating. Don’t blame you. Glad it worked out.

  72. JohnK – we could have gone that route but getting my 96 year old dad (although he still has most of his marbles) into some legal wrangling and having to relist his house would have been a bit much. Believe me, we would have gone for broke if they missed altogether but it turned out OK.

  73. None of that nonsense in France. No postponements or modifications whatsoever once signed. Seller has 100% rights to keep your deposit and force the sale under the conditions you signed. Buyer’s ducks not in a row? Tough titty, thanks for your 10% (by law) deposit. Helps filter out people who shouldn’t be in the market.

  74. And just found out one more tidbit. Another appraiser showed up after closing without an appointment – my 96 year old dad told her to no (good for him!) – he has occupancy until end of July. They have since made an appt. I guess they may have come up with some short term money to fill the gap. Sounds like rookies hoping to catch the wave.

  75. Jack – thanks for the input into the Richmond sale of my dads house. Just to be clear, the realtor may have seen a low appraisals before but trying to change closing deadlines 2 days out and missing deadlines was a first.

  76. Couldn’t help but laugh at the agent on CHEK the other day saying 300 people had tromped through this one house over a couple of days.

    Then I thought of all the buyer agents who have to be getting so discouraged as they waste half their life driving around town trying to outbid a stack of idiots who thinks an extra $200K plus is chicken feed.

    How do these agencies keep the troops spirits up getting dejected with their clients over and over, day after day. The psychological pressure and stress must be hitting the max about now.

    Guess they can always show them an inspirational speech or two to keep them in the game. 😉


  77. As my previous story told, we got our house in 2012. Lots of houses, but not very great keeping it at $425K below mark, but still MOI was good. And yes, we had long long times to view and decide on houses.

    Actually the house we did finely pull the trigger on we passed up on at a open house three months before we went to a second open house… and saw a few houses later and then, about a month after, we decided to take a few appointment viewings of the passed on house. Ours now and very happy with it.

    You could be a little picky back then.

    Then in 2013/2014 I saw houses starting to sell in my neighborhood above assessment value and thought to myself “Fools! why do that? I got mine well below (assessment and asking price)”.

    2016 rolls around and now my thoughts of those fools aren’t so foolish anymore.

  78. “…or will we be looking at videos from now in 2019 and shaking our heads at how people overpaid?”

    Stranger things have happened when panic buyers are all sucked dry and the pool is empty.

    Then the private lenders start showing signs that all is maybe not well behind the scenes. Home Capital stock is taking a beating the last 2 weeks, from a $40 high to under $34 today.

    In the US the private lenders like Quicken Loans are showing signs they can’t survive alone and cracks in their system has folks worried the US housing is set up for a dump.

    Maybe that’s the catalyst to bring this house of cards down… private lenders maxed out. What a concept. 😉

    Mortgage M&A Looms as Soaring Costs Pinch Nonbank Lenders


  79. http://www.sfu.ca/content/dam/sfu/mpp/pdfs/Vancouver%27s%20Housing%20Affordability%20Crisis%20Report%202016%20Final%20Version.pdf

    Article is very interesting Vicbot. Something should be done to regulate foreign ownership where there is only home purchases and very little contributed in the way of income or business tax. I liked the option proposed to tax homes over $1 000 000 with a corresponding ability to deduct from income taxes paid. Very hard to evade.

    Like with many things, it pays to be contrarian, and in 2012/2013 the masses weren’t buying.

    We bought in 2012 and it did not feel like a particularly good time to buy at the time. Many, perhaps the majority, believed interest rates would rise and prices would drop. We thought that might happen too so we got a 10-year mortgage at 3.69. Buying was a good decision, not sure about the mortgage!

  80. will we be looking at videos from now in 2019 and shaking our heads at how people overpaid

    In Vancouver maybe. Something is going to happen to restrict foreign ownership relatively shortly (within a year) I’d guess.

  81. That video from 2013 was painful to watch, especially after seeing a house in Henderson now listed for over $300K more than the $800K it sold for in 2013. I thought $800K was too much then, but could have theoretically afforded it. Now that neighbourhood is out of my reach forever… or will we be looking at videos from now in 2019 and shaking our heads at how people overpaid? I guess the one thing it shows is that the market can change.

  82. To think that it was actually an awesome time to buy

    Indeed it was. Actually Marko said exactly that in the video. And it turned out to be correct despite the cliche of it always being a good time to buy if you ask a realtor 🙂

    Like with many things, it pays to be contrarian, and in 2012/2013 the masses weren’t buying.

  83. They’ll have to create more court rooms by the time all is said and done in this ponzi scheme, as the cases now start to pile up from back in 2010.

    Lawsuit alleges 60 property owners in Richmond fell victim to shadow-flipping scam

    “A lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court alleges that 60 property owners in Richmond fell victim to a shadow-flipping scam by a local realtor and his brokerage firm.”


  84. “5% down buyers are not making unconditional offers.”

    There must be an awful lot of people with big down payments / parents willing to act step in for the bank out there, then. People with family money have a serious advantage in this market (arguably in any market, obviously, but especially so under these bidding war conditions).

  85. We’re now at levels in late 2000’s where first time buyers throw in the towel and leave town. Younger people stop moving here due to lack of rentals thus businesses will suffer with lack of quality workers. Those thinking this is “just the beginning” didn’t learn a thing only 7 years ago.

    Young people aren’t stupid, they will create a new life somewhere else cheaper just like every other generation before them did in this town.

    No new blood means an eventual downturn in the economy. Not every Bank of Ma and Pa are going to see their cash go down the drain. Rover is bang on, this is not sustainable.

  86. Related to StepbyStep’s post of the Tyee article, an SFU professor has released an interesting report on the housing affordability crisis. Long read but very thorough, and includes stats on Victoria as well as info on foreign ownership in other provinces:

    “Prince Edward Island, for example, has long restricted ‘foreign’ real estate buying, subjecting prospective buyers to stringent tests to make sure that such purchases are consistent with local priorities. Canadians beware, though, these restrictions are also directed at you! These measures exist not because PEI residents are ‘xenophobic’, they simply want local priorities and needs met first.”

  87. @kana is it? April 2015 average SFH price shows as $737,903 for all areas; $613,284.51 in 2005 dollars. But historical data from VREB shows average home price as of 1 May 2005 at $441,000, so it would appear we’re up 39% on 2005 values. Unless I missed something…

  88. @ AG & Kana: despite overvaluation across the country, the reason I bought was the flat prices in victoria for the past 10 years. I had to make a decision that accounted for both downside and upside potentials as I couldn’t predict where the market was heading. If a catch-up to Vancouver is playing out, the upside potential is monstrous. But, of course, the bubble risk hangs over us as well. For me, Victoria RE is as safe as it gets in this frothy Canadian market.

  89. Just wanted to say that adjusted for inflation prices here are still below 2006/2005 levels. Meanwhile most of Canada and Vancouver are up between 68% and 370%.

    We are just playing a little bit of catch up, it’s just getting started.

  90. Wow, Victoria market has got nothing on the lower mainland!
    -Vancouver Westside up 28% to $3.2 million
    -Tsawwassen up 41% to $1.16-million.
    -Richmond up 36.5% to $1.5-million.
    -Ladner up 35% $971k

    Man, even if prices drop 30%, you’re back to 1 year ago!!! I don’t think anything like this exists on the planet!!!

  91. following from Marko’s comment “5% down buyers are not making unconditional offers”: since the buyers making unconditional offers are driving the increase of house prices on the margins, it is the characteristics of this set of buyers that is important in the discussion of house price increases. Who are they? My WAG:
    – those coming over from Vancouver and other places
    – speculators who made money on the last house
    – those who have built a large downpayment
    – hot money
    – people who have made a lot on a previous house who are now buying a new one.

  92. @Marko: I wonder if you may eventually see some sales not go through after going unconditional because so many people are now putting in unconditional offers. It is plausible that someone would put in an unconditional bid after having received pre approval for a mortgage and would just assume that the bank will fund them in full. If the bid is WAY over asking/assessment the bank could say no based on the mortgage appraisal. Then the deal wouldn’t close unless alternate financing could be found.

    I can’t speak for other REALTORS® but when my clients are making unconditional offers we go through all the worse case scenarios. Typically unconditional buyers have huge downpayments or could swing completion via an avenue like a parents’ line of credit if there was a hiccup with financing.

    5% down buyers are not making unconditional offers.

  93. It looks like Ocean View Road is 5 days on market, so it might have been sold but not shown up in MLS due to conditions pending. (It’s also a corner lot which can take longer to sell & a fluorescent blue kitchen)

    Thanks for posting the great graphs, Leo.

  94. What are opinions on why 1282 Ocean View Rd hasn’t sold? Seems like an okay place for the price. Normally that means it sells in a few days.

    I think we can borrow those famous words from Leo Tolstoy that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, but replacing families with houses.

    Pictures could be deceiving lots times. Or maybe they are holding out to get more bidders. Instead of us guessing here, the best would be to call the selling agent.

  95. @Rover – You said- “Or, and this is more likely, drawing such ridiculous comparisons simply makes it easier to ignore the elephant in the room that grows larger with each and every passing month.”

    What is the elephant you are referring to? Thanks.

  96. I am always interested to see what sells right away and what doesn’t. What are opinions on why 1282 Ocean View Rd hasn’t sold? Seems like an okay place for the price. Normally that means it sells in a few days.

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