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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The View from the Roller Coaster

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I recently watched an interesting visualization of the median house price index for Greater Vancouver over the last 40 years. The animation places the viewer in the seat of a roller coaster as it climbs and drops relative to the housing market. Apart from being very entertaining to watch, it also clearly demonstrates how quickly the environment can change in the Greater Vancouver housing market.
 
Following market trends is only accurate in the past tense. One cannot truly understand the direction the market will take until the change is in motion. Presently in Vancouver there seems to be a shift occurring. Reviewing the MLS statistics, and the RE/MAX numbers it appears that the listing inventory is rising faster than the housing demand. Listings are up, but sales seem to be slowing down. This is happening despite the fact that the charter banks have warned that they will be raising their interest rates by summer.
 
The fear that house prices have risen beyond what the market will bear may be slowing down the buying frenzy of the last few years. The price of a condo in Vancouver is reaching the unaffordability level for the average citizen. The price of properties in this wonderful city have reached a level more than ten times the average wage of a Vancouverite. Those who caught the roller coaster at the bottom of the climb have done very well over the last 7 years in this market.
 
Once the HST effect has flowed through the local economy, the question of affordability will come into a clearer focus. Vancouver has always been higher priced than its neigbouring provinces because of it's desirability as a location. The recent olympics have proven to be a magnet for some international tech companies as well as those well-heeled enough to own properties internationally.
 
The desire to own property on Canada's west coast might be slamming against the reality that those without a seat on the roller coaster could be in for a long wait to buy a ticket.

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