Three weeks ago, when we looked at the long-overdue sudden change in the Vancouver housing market, long a receptacle for Chinese hot and laundered money, we found that as a result of the implementation of the 15% property tax implemented by British Columbia (something we recommended over a month earlier), that the Vancouver housing bubble has burst.
We concluded this based on anecdotal evidence by local real estate professionals: “As a new dawn breaks in Metro Vancouver’s real estate market, realty companies and real estate boards are reporting the first anecdotes of deals falling through as foreign buyers forfeited deposits on binding deals rather than pay the new tax. Worse, if only for the unprecedented local housing bubble, and certainly better for potential local homeowners who were locked out from the massively overpriced market, they report evidence of local buyers withdrawing offers in expectation that the market will soften.”
Less than a month later, there is also hard evidence to confirm this assessment. According to Global News, evidence from realtors and MLS data is showing the Vancouver real estate market is in the midst of a major slow down, with prices dropping and sales plummeting.
While August is typically one of the slowest months for real estate transactions, MLS sales data from the first two weeks of the month shows what many have been hoping for during the last few years of escalating prices. According to realtor Brent Eilers, using MLS listing data, there were only three home sales in West Vancouver between Aug. 1 and 14 this year, compared to 52 during the same period last year. That’s a decrease of 94%.
Global News obtained MLS sales data from several key Metro Vancouver markets and found the number of homes sold during the first two weeks of August in Greater Vancouver dropped by 85% on average. Richmond experienced a 96% drop in the number of sales and Burnaby North fell by 95%. Vancouver’s West Side, West Vancouver, and Coquitlam also took major hits.
It appears that the Vancouver housing market has slammed shut.
Which is hardly a surprise: virtually everyone saw it coming, the only question was when. Eilers says he’s been warning of a real estate slow-down for at least a year due to the region’s unsustainable and unsupportable prices. West Vancouver, where he does a large part of his business, had a benchmark detached home price of almost $3.4 million in July according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
“The market in West Van is up 450 per cent since 2001. So is everyone making 600 per cent more income than they were so they can pay their taxes and buy their houses? Of course not. So how is this inflation been financed? By off-shore money and record debt.” Precisely what we said at the start of the year when we first heard horror stories about Chinese buyers paying cash, sight unseen, for any and every local luxury, and not so luxury home.
It appears that it is not just the 15% luxury tax implemented on on July 25 that has burst the bubble: according to Eilers sales were dropping even before the tax. According to the data, July was another slow month in West Vancouver with only 44 sales, down from 80 in 2015. June saw 74 sales, also down from 102 the year before.
The pattern has left the market “devastated”, Eilers adds.
While it may be too early to make a definitive conclusion, after all while earlier this month, the REBGV released its statistics for the month of July, saying the data showed the market had slowed down to “normal levels”, there was still no official August data available, and thus no actual indication of the slowdown. Fortunately for buyers, real-time data proves otherwise.
Zolo, a Canadian real estate brokerage, keeps track of MLS home sales in real-time and reports prices as an average rather than the “benchmark price” used by the REBGV. It currently shows a major correction underway in most Metro Vancouver markets. According to the website, the City of Vancouver currently has an average home price of $1.1 million, down 20.7% over the last 28 days and down 24.5% over the last three months. The average detached home is $2.6 million, down 7% compared to three months ago.
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