Good news for house hunters—and brokers

Buyers in Greater Vancouver’s detached property market are firmly in the driver’s seat.

According to numbers released by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, detached home sales decreased 37.1% in August compared to the same time last year.

“We had a few years where any offer with subjects was a non-starter, so on the buy side, for clients to be able to take their time and have some negotiating power with sellers is huge,” said Ryan Zupan, a broker with DLC City Wide Mortgage Services. “Over the summer, I’ve seen a big pick up of detached purchases from clients waiting on the sidelines. Now they’re getting deals.”

Vancouver’s single-family detached market has trudged all year, but as sellers adjust to new realities and lower their asking prices, buyers are noticing.

However, by no means will this market segment bear witness to the same frenzied activity it did a couple of years ago. According to Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, that’s because it’s merely moderating.

“For single-family homes, the rate of increase in price over the last couple of years has been nothing short of breathtaking, and we think the market scaling back is healthy,” said Henderson. “It will relieve some pressure on some of the other areas that have been quite attractive as well.”

Those areas are Vancouver’s suburbs, upon which many buyers, priced out of the city core, set their sights. But with downward pressure on housing, some might start moving back into Vancouver proper.

“In Vancouver, as the centre becomes more expensive, its suburbs become, by default, where people find more attractive and reasonably priced homes, but that means people have to travel further away from work and further from families,” explained Henderson. “So as prices moderate in the centre, it allows people to come back, which will also soften prices in the markets surrounding the centre of the city.”

While that’s certainly good news for buyers, perspective is doubtless in order. First, prices will not plummet. Second, the provincial government hasn’t been shy about intervening in the housing market—nor have successive federal governments.

“At best, prices will go up slower than they have been, or perhaps they come down a little bit,” continued Henderson. “I think the wild card factor that’s really causing some concern in the marketplace is whether there will be additional intervention from the government. If the government declares victory and says they’ve done an effective job shaping demand, where it’s now become more balanced, the market can continue on with confidence. But if there’s threat of intervention, then we’ll continue seeing softening of prices.”

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