November 12, 2013

Chatter for the cocktail circuit

B.C.’s Real Estate Boards offer intriguing facts that are sure to be good conversation-starters.

Real Estate

Every month, B.C.’s real estate boards routinely trot out statistics such as how many homes have sold in the last 30 days, the number still on the market and whether prices have gone up or down. But beyond those work-a-day stats, the boards offer a wealth of quirky factoids that you can use to dazzle your friends at the next cocktail party or night at the pub.

For instance, do you know which is the most expensive neighbourhood in the Greater Vancouver Real Estate board’s coverage area? When measuring high neighbourhood value, the board considers a lot more than just average and median prices. It also looks at lot size, age, number of rooms, etc. in determining the “typical house” in the area.

If you guessed that Kerrisdale, Point Grey or even Shaughnessy is home to the highest-priced digs, you guessed wrong. The correct answer is . . . Whitby Estates with a “typical” home price of $4.2 million. Whitby Estates? You get an extra point if you know it’s an area of luxury homes stretching across West Vancouver’s mountain slopes above the Upper Levels Highway. Greater Vancouver’s least expensive typical home? You’ll find it in Port Coquitlam, where the benchmark price is $257,500.

Feeling a little dumb? Here’s an easy one. What is the most common type of housing built in 2012? If you said condos, you’d be right on the money. They account for more than 80 per cent of all new home construction in 2012. That’s up from 2002, when condos represented 60 per cent of new builds.

Condos may be the biggest sector, but they aren’t setting any price records. Contrary to popular belief, the Vancouver condo market has been anything but hot lately, rising a mere 0.5 per cent in the last five years.

“The most expensive single family home ever sold through MLS was a White Rock mansion that fetched $11.8 million.”

So where does one go to make an honest dollar flipping houses these days? Go north, young lady! British Columbia Real Estate Association figures reveal the fastest rising house prices over the last two years are between 100 Mile House and the B.C.-Yukon border. In that sizable area, the aggregate price for all northern communities has risen by 12.4 per cent. But that only tells part of the story. In some communities, such as Kitimat, LNG projects have fuelled a 50-per-cent jump in typical house prices in the last two years alone, to a high of $222,766 in June. This year, we’re told that real estate fever is running high in Prince Rupert.

On Vancouver Island, buyers from outside B.C. are discovering the Island’s charms this year, accounting for 20 per cent of all homes sold. In the Okanagan, to no one’s surprise, Albertans account for 15 per cent of all real estate sales.

Closer to home, the Fraser Valley can no longer be considered “out in the sticks” when it comes to real estate prices. Not when the most expensive single family home ever sold through MLS – a mansion in White Rock – fetched $11.8 million. Not only can Fraser Valley homes be pricey, but they can be big. A few years ago, an MLS listing in Abbotsford featured the sale of what was reportedly the largest private residence in Canada, tipping the scale at 47,000 square feet.

If it’s the farming life you yearn for, think twice. The most expensive cranberry farm ever sold in the region commanded a cool $6.2 million in Abbotsford. Not bad at all for the ’burbs. Finally, here’s a conversation stopper, courtesy of Colliers International vice-president Scott Brown, worth trying on those who think prices just go up and up:

“New-home prices in the recreational markets are up to half of what they were in 2007 and new multi-family homes in parts of Surrey, Langley, Maple Ridge, sell for less today than they did at the last peak of the market in 2007.”

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