March 2014 Real Estate Activity in Victoria

VICTORIA BC – The Victoria Real Estate Board today released its monthly report on real estate activity in the Victoria area for March 2014.

575 properties sold in the month of March 2014, compared to 483 in March 2013 – an increase of nearly 20% year over year. However, the average sales for the month of March over the past five years is 607 properties per month, so though 2014 is stronger than the year previous, sales have not yet returned to the longer term average.

Victoria Real Estate Board President Tim Ayres says, “This time last year sales weren’t outstanding – the market was sluggish. Tightened mortgage amortization rules resulted in slower sales as buyers adjusted to the new requirements. Property values were stable, but inventory didn’t move quickly. This year we see more sales than last March.”

The Victoria Real Estate Board uses the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) to report on property values. The MLS® HPI uses the concept of a benchmark home, a notional home with common attributes of typical homes in a defined area. Through the analysis of ten years of Victoria Real Estate Board MLS® sales data, the MLS® HPI defined benchmark homes for Victoria in each category (single family homes, townhouses, condos) and for each neighbourhood. The benchmark starting point was 2005, where each type of property and neighbourhood was assigned an index value of 100.

Current MLS® HPI composite (inclusive of all single family homes, condos and townhomes sales) for the Victoria Real Estate Board area is 139.3 – compared to 139.1 this time last year. While these overall numbers indicate little change in the last 12 months, some areas have changed more than others. Local REALTORS® can interpret what this means to specific neighbourhoods in the region.

President Tim Ayres explains what this means to the local market, “The stable property values year over year, along with the strong inventory of properties we see for sale shows that we have returned to balanced market conditions. There is no extreme upward or downward pressure on housing prices right now. This stability in value combined with the new lower interest rates we see from some lenders may move a lot more buyers into the Victoria and area housing market.”

Victoria Real Estate Board President Tim Ayres is available for comment. More information on the March 2014 report and the MLS ® HPI is available from the Victoria Real Estate Board.

About VREB – The Victoria Real Estate Board was founded in 1921 and since that time has been a key player in the development of standards and innovative programs aimed at enhancing the professionalism and community standing of REALTORS®. Formation of the Board grew out of the realization in the early part of the last century that there was a need to establish basic standards for those working in the real estate industry.

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Real Estate Activity Continues Ahead of Spring Market

VICTORIA BC – Real estate market activity in the first two months of 2014 remained slightly ahead of the same period in 2013.

Total MLS® sales in February were 412, a 4.6 per cent increase over February 2013 when 394 units sold and a 20.5 per cent increase over the 342 sales reported to the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) in January 2014.

“It’s encouraging that sales activity continues to increase as we move towards a healthy spring market,” noted VREB President, Tim Ayres. “2013 spring sales were quite strong and we’re hoping for a similar level of activity this year.”

The MLS® HPI single-family home benchmark price for the entire Greater Victoria region was $483,400 in February, a 1.4 per cent decrease when compared to the February 2013 value of $490,100.

“With a $5 million condominium sale in February, it was no surprise to see average prices for condos rise last month from $328,130 to $373,749,” said Ayres. “Since the introduction of the MLS® Housing Price Index (HPI) in November 2013, we’ve been saying the HPI is a much more reliable measure of price trend data than average prices. Our February MLS® HPI numbers prove it; even with the $5 million sale, February MLS® HPI benchmark pricing for condos in Victoria remained virtually unchanged with an increase of only $400.”

At the regional level, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home in the Core municipalities was $547,800. This benchmark price is virtually unchanged when compared to both the previous month and February 2013. In Westshore, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home was $408,500, up 0.9 per cent from January 2014 and a 1.0 per cent decrease compared with last February. The MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home on the Peninsula was $502,600 for February, an increase of 1.1 per cent over the previous month and a 4.1 per cent decrease year-over-year.

There were 3,770 active listings at the end of February. While this is an increase from 3489 at the end of January, it is 7.4 per cent less than the 4072 listing that were available in February 2013. Inventory has been on a slow decline for most of 2013 but our normal cycle should result in more inventory as we move into Spring.

There were 107 condominium sales in February 2014, up from 92 in January and down from the 112 in February 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price in February for condos was $277,200, down 1.3 per cent from $280,800 from one year ago.

For townhomes, 42 sold in February compared to 30 in January and 43 in February 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price for townhomes was $401,500, up 1.4 per cent from $396,000 in February 2013.

  • Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 8
  • Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 219
  • Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 15 (4 over $1.5 Million)

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Historical Housing Values in Victoria

Is the owning and holding of real estate a good investment?

A quick glance at residential values over a thirty five year history shows an increase on the average home price in Victoria from $63,000 to $630,000. Not a bad return I would say. Looking at that same graph, however, reminds us of the crucial importance of timing in your investment strategy. The market values fluctuated dramatically in cycles as follows:

  • 1978 – 1981 – Doubled
  • 1982 – 1987 – Dropped by 20%
  • 1988 – 1992 – Values almost doubled again
  • 1993 – 2000 – Values remained flat
  • 2001 – 2009 – Values almost doubled again
  • 2010 – today – Values corrected downward approximately 7-8% and are now holding stable.

Is it still a good sound investment?

Yes, definitely! Not only does home ownership provide a place to live for your family, but the historical increase in house values has been incredible. Having said that, currently, and over the next few years you must research very well and use the experience of a good real estate agent.

From the desk of Larry Jeffs
Team Jeffs
RE/MAX Camosun

January 2014 VREB Statistics

January Real Estate Market Starts on Solid Ground

Victoria’s real estate market had a solid start in January, re-establishing momentum after the holiday season.

Total MLS® sales in January were 342, a 16.3% increase over January 2013 when 294 units sold. January sales were close to the 355 sales reported to the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) in December 2013.

2014 VREB President, Tim Ayres cautioned, “While we’re pleased with the number of sales this January and the percentage increases over January 2013, it’s important to remember that the market last January was restrained under tightened mortgage amortization rules imposed in July 2012.”

The MLS® HPI single family home benchmark price for the entire Greater Victoria region was $481,200 in January, a 1.7% decrease when compared to the January 2013 value of $489,400.

“Market activity increased as the month progressed,” notes Ayres. “With REALTORS® reporting that attractively-priced and well-presented properties are moving quickly.”

At the regional level, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home in the Core municipalities was $546,300, an increase of 0.6% over the previous month and a 0.5% decrease over January 2013. In Westshore, the MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home was $404,800, virtually unchanged from December 2013 and a 1.5 per cent decrease compared with January 2013. The MLS® HPI benchmark price for the single family benchmark home on the Peninsula was $497,200 for January, a decrease of 0.5% over the previous month and a 4.9% decrease year-over-year.

There were 3,489 active listings at the end of January, a 10% decrease over January 2013. “Available inventory slowly declined for most of 2013,” says Ayres. “We will continue to monitor this trend and the impact on the market as 2014 unfolds.”

There were 92 condominium sales in January 2014, the same as December 2013 and 81 in January 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price in January for condos was $276,800, down 1.7% from $281,600 from one year ago.

For townhomes, 30 sold in January compared to 32 in December 2013 and 40 in January 2013. The region-wide MLS® HPI benchmark price for townhomes was $398,000, up 0.7% from $395,400 in January 2013.

Total waterfront single family homes sold in January: 7
Total non-waterfront single family homes sold in January: 186
Total single family homes sold over $1 million in January: 10 (1 over $3 Million)

At the heart of the MLS® HPI is the concept of the “benchmark” home, a notional home that has the most common features of a typical home in a given area. The benchmark home does not represent any actual house, condominium or townhome, but merely provides an identical example to track changes in market value. There are separate benchmark houses, condominiums and townhomes in each distinct area of Greater Victoria, enabling the tracking of values on a variety of geographic levels.

For more information on the MLS® HPI benchmark prices and index values, visit http://www.vreb.org. Those requiring specific information on property values in their area should contact a REALTOR®. The Victoria Real Estate Board has more than 1,225 Members working in more than 80 Brokerages.

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What is a Property Worth?

Assessed Value vs Real Market Value

In the past few weeks most property owners would have received their yearly assessment notice from BC Assessment. This government agency endeavours to determine a fair and realistic value of all properties in BC in order for the municipalities to have a basis for generating property taxes to fund their annual operating budget. There is an arbitration process available to those who feel their assessed value is too high or low. This negotiation process is kept fairly simple and is well worth pursuing if the owner chooses to do so, however, surprisingly only 1.6% of home owners actually appeal.

Why is there, in the majority of cases, a difference in assessed value to the appraised value or realtor generated opinion of value? The following notes point out some of the reasons for the differences that occur regardless on how diligent the assessors have been:

  1.  The assessed value is based on what a property might have sold for on July 1st of the previous year and doesn’t reflect our fluctuations that may have happened since then.
  2. The assessors base their opinions on data they have available from the Land Registry System and Real Estate Boards in the province. In most cases they are using exterior views of similar houses whereas appraisers and realtors would complete a thorough inspection and compare features and nuances to establish their opinion.

A few more interesting points are:

  1. In the fall of last year the MLS Data showed in a study of 286 sales that 61% sold for under assessed value.
  2. In areas of traditionally high popularity (ie. Fairfield, Oak Bay etc.) many of the sales were at higher prices than assessed.

In summary the BC Assessment does a very good job and a very necessary one for the local governments and although there may be a few discrepancies between actual and assessed values, it is a pretty fair system. In Real Estate sales, however, it still comes down to what a particular buyer will pay for a property after they have completed their research and negotiation. Proper and fair pricing is the key to a successful sale.

From the Desk of Larry Jeffs

 

Another Year to Remember

2013
Another Year to Remember

 ‘Twas the  year before Christmas when all about town
the events of the past caused many a frown.
Some things were humorous and in a few cases
caused smiles and chuckles and some red faces.

Our great Canadian hero is rocket man Chris
His world wide fame was impossible to miss.
He travelled through space for quite a long while
But it was performing Bowie’s song that brought many a smile.

Back in Toronto the mayor’s in trouble once more,
Rob’s partying on camera caused such an uproar.
It’s his antics in office that might be true
That has given comedians much material to chew.

Here at home the pollsters were heard to say
That a big change was coming on election day.
But the voting results after the final count
put Christy and her team back on the mount.

The rebuilding of our bridges is now underway
while lengthy discussion on sewers they say
Have more questions than answers on how to go
Maybe in a year or so we will finally know.

It is with great pleasure and now is the time
to wind up and finish our witty little rhyme
and to say to our friends with joy and delight

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Happy Holidays from Team Jeffs

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VREB October 2013 Monthly Statistics

Strong October Kicks off Fourth Quarter Real Estate Sales in Greater Victoria

November 1, 2013

VICTORIA BC – Greater Victoria continued to experience strong home sales during the month of October, reports the Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB). According to the Board’s MLS® System, 512 properties sold compared to 373 in October 2012, an increase of 37.27 per cent. There were 4,322 active listings.

“While we are all very pleased with the October results, we are tempering our enthusiasm,” says Shelley Mann, Board President. “After a slow market for the last half of 2012, we are still climbing back to previous annual sales numbers.”

Today, the VREB and joins the Canadian Real Estate Association and ten major real estate markets in Canada by adopting a new approach to the reporting of trends in residential property prices. Instead of relying on average and median sale prices which are subject to fluctuation, the Board moved to a new system called the MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI). The methodology used by MLS® HPI has been endorsed by Statistics Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Bank of Canada, Finance Canada and Central 1 Credit Union.

At the heart of the MLS® HPI is the concept of the “benchmark” home, a notional home comprising the most common attributes of typical homes in a given area. Through the analysis of ten years of VREB MLS® sales data, MLS® HPI has defined benchmark homes for Greater Victoria as a whole as well as for each of our regions, districts and neighbourhoods. In each of these areas, MLS® HPI has defined a benchmark home for each category: single family homes, townhouses and condo apartments. Each month, VREB MLS® sales data will be fed into the MLS® HPI to calculate and track changes in the prices of our benchmark homes.

Benchmark prices are generally lower than corresponding medians and averages. MLS® HPI estimates the values of our typical homes, whereas medians and averages merely reflect the overall selling prices of the particular mix of homes that sold in a given month.

In a manner similar to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), MLS® HPI maintains a running index of the percentage change in benchmark prices. Like the CPI, the MLS® HPI assigns an index value of 100 to the benchmark prices at its starting point: January 2005. By tracking both benchmark prices and index values each month, MLS® HPI will provide a much clearer picture of real estate market trends in Greater Victoria.

“Past reporting of averages and medians showed flat pricing across the Board’s trading area but MLS® HPI indicates a moderate decline in prices in many markets over the last year,” Mann says. “Benchmark prices are flat month-over-month, and we will be watching very carefully to see where pricing goes.

“With average and median prices, it was often difficult to gauge whether prices of typical homes were rising or falling, but the HPI provides us with exactly this type of information,” she says.

For October 2013, the benchmark price for the Greater Victoria single family benchmark home was $485,400 and its corresponding MLS® HPI index value was 137.2. (This represents a 37.2 per cent increase since January 2005, when the index was 100). This benchmark price increased 0.15 per cent over the past month and decreased 3.18 per cent over the last year.

At the regional level, the benchmark price for the single family benchmark home in the Core municipalities was $547,800, a decrease of 0.56 per cent over the previous month and a 2.66 per cent decrease over October 2012. In Westshore, the benchmark price for the single family benchmark home was $410,600, a decrease of 0.37 per cent over September 2013 and 4.37 per cent decrease over October 2012. The benchmark price for the single family benchmark home on the Peninsula was $508,700 for September, an increase of 1.22 per cent over the previous month and a 3.56 per cent decrease year-over-year.

There were a total of 274 single family homes sold in September, an increase of 29 per cent over September 2012. September also saw the reporting of 126 condominium sales and 51 townhouse sales in Greater Victoria. Benchmark prices for the Greater Victoria condominium benchmark home and for the Greater Victoria townhouse benchmark home for September $283,100 and $393,100 respectively.

Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 17, up 2 over October 2012
Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 257, up 62 over October 2012
Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 16 (1 over $2 million)

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Victoria Real Estate Board Monthly Statistics (September 2013)

Home Sales Bolstered by Proper Pricing in Greater Victoria

October 1, 2013

VICTORIA BC – Finishing up the strongest third quarter since 2009, the Victoria Real Estate Board reports that properly priced homes are selling which, along with reduced inventory levels, contributed to favourable market conditions. Q3 sales totalled 1,610, a year-over-year increase of nearly 15 per cent.

On a monthly scale, total real estate sales in Greater Victoria were up 16 per cent in September 2013 over September 2012. A total of 487 properties sold last month, finishing off a strong third quarter. Residential sales increased by 15 per cent year-over-year, while active listings decreased by 9.5 per cent year-over-year to 4,547.

“Last year at this time, sales volumes were being undermined by the amortization changes,” says Shelley Mann, Board President. “This year is following a more historic pattern. Properly priced homes are selling and as a result consumers are responding.”

Mann adds that while sales increased over the last four months, prices remained flat. “We don’t expect any significant price increases in the near future,” she says. “Our provincial economist noted that while unit sales are recovering, the weak economy bears watching.”

There were 279 single family homes sold in September, an increase of 29 per cent over September 2012, while the median price of $523,900 is up just over one per cent year over year from $517,500. There were 105 condominium sales with a median price of $271,500 and 60 townhomes sold at a median price of $352,750.

Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 19, up 1 over September 2012
Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 260, up 62 over September 2012
Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 12 (1 over $4 million)

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VREB August Monthly Statistics

Strongest Summer in Five Years for Property Sales in Greater Victoria

September 3, 2013

VICTORIA BC – Summer-time real estate sales numbers were the best they’ve been in Greater Victoria in five years. There was a total of 1,787 sales in June, July and August.

On a monthly scale, total real estate sales in Greater Victoria were up 16.8 per cent in August 2013 over August 2012, the Victoria Real Estate Board reports. A total of 540 properties sold in August, finishing off a strong summer market.

“I’m very pleased with the August results. MLS® sales are strong and, with 4,593 active listings in all categories at month end, we remain on the cusp of a balanced market,” says Shelley Mann, President of the Victoria Real Estate Board.

The BC Real Estate Association defines a balanced market as when the ratio of sales to active listings is between 15 and 20 per cent. At month end, Victoria’s ratio for residential properties was 14 per cent.

There were 308 single family homes sold in August, an increase of 28.3 per cent over August 2012, while the median price of $529,950 is up less than one per cent year over year from $526,250. There were 125 condominium sales with a median price of $287,000 and 70 townhomes sold at a median price of $415,000.

“Overall, pricing remains flat and our provincial economist predicts the trend will continue for another year. That said, the year-over-year median price of condos is up 9.2 per cent and the median of townhomes is up 12.5 percent,” Mann says. “This will vary between neighbourhoods, which is why I always recommend that consumers consult a REALTOR® for local pricing.

“With interest rates starting to increase, many buyers are locking into preapproved mortgages. These consumers should be purchasing in the next three to four months, so I believe the market will remain steady,” Mann says.

Total Waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 20, up 7 over August 2012
Total Non-waterfront Single Family Dwellings sold: 288, up 61 over August 2012
Single Family Dwellings sold over $1 million: 17 (2 over $2 million)

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Preparing Your Home For Sale (Part 2)

Giving potential home buyers the right first impression to your home is very important. You want those viewing your home to be able to picture themselves living there. There is an art to doing it right. Anne Gedye, a Victoria based professional home stager has provided us with a great article on benefits of staging a home for sale.

 THE ART OF STAGING

Home staging is the deliberate art of showcasing a home in such a way that a buyer can imagine themselves living in the house. A stager has the ability to be disconnected from the emotional attachment that a seller likely has. There are key principles to follow which are worth the time and effort and this process will give you a giant step toward selling your home for the best possible price.

The Staging Process:

My tasks are to rearrange and edit furniture pieces, move artwork to new locations, and suggest paint colours and window treatments when helpful to a sale. Home stagers will try to use as much of the current furniture and artwork as possible and will only suggest additions as necessary to increase interest and create a WOW factor.

Tried and True Staging Rules:

  1. Remember curb appeal as it’s the first important impression.
  2. Bright plants – especially red – at entryways are welcoming.
  3. Stay on neutral ground regarding colours if possible.
  4. Use fresh towels in all bathrooms – white goes with everything.
  5. Don’t forget bedding – fresh and neutral.
  6. Depersonalize your spaces (ie. collections, family pictures, etc.)
  7. Keep all rooms super clean especially in bathrooms & kitchens.
  8. Cut down all clutter.
  9. Set the stage before showings.

 

Anne Gedye, AHSC
Anne Gedye Home Staging
agedye@shaw.ca
250-744-7723