Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CMHC "Housing Now" Report for January

I received CMHC's February "Housing Now" report today. Unfortunately, the issue is a month late - it is covering January. Most the items in the reports have already been discussed around here and the local water cooler. The report can be viewed here.

"... demand for new homes remains strong, evidenced by low inventories of newly completed home together with robust new home sales."

Their numbers do show a 91.3 percent increase between January 2006 and January 2007 in completed and not absorbed SFHs. CMHC says this is a low number, and can be

"... attributed to a rise in proportion of speculative building versus custom-designed houses in Langford, Sooke, Saanich and Colwood Markets. Overall, the market is balanced as supply is keeping pace with demand."

Speculative building, I like that.

Perhaps, supply is outpacing demand. Looking at all forms of housing (SFH, townhomes, condos), there is a 30.7 percent increase this year (January) in homes under construction, a 54.7 percent increase in completed and not absorbed, and a 13.6 decrease in homes absorbed. This is nothing new - inventory is increasing.

The report provides a substantial amount of info. Too bad we have to wait a month to see the results for February. We can be thankful though that VREB is very on the ball and releases their numbers on the first or second of the new month. How interesting will February's stats be?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Double Bubble Trouble

Market analysts had been talking for some time about a stock market correction. Bears and bulls were agreeing. Of course, bulls said the correction would be short lived, that we'd see DOW 14000 this year. Bears, well, a little more negative. I guess that we'll see in the coming days and weeks who's right about this correction.

The stock market is fun to watch. It's a faster moving game than real estate. It takes weeks and months to see asking prices drop on MLS. The stock market can be all over the map in the course of a day. If there is a coming correction in the real estate market in Victoria, it'll definitely take more patience.

So I'm faced with a dilemma. It appears that the stock market is high, the real estate market is high, gold is high, oil is pretty high. We're supposed to buy low and sell high. I'm so flush in cash, where am I supposed to put it???

Saturday, February 24, 2007

February 24 Week Ending Stats

It was another pretty flat week for inventory for 2 bedroom condos, 3 bedroom townhomes, and 3 bedroom single family homes. Two bed condos and 3 bed townhomes had a small decrease in listings, 3 bed SFH had a minimal increase. I am starting to believe that inventory for 3 bed SFH may not be the best indicator of overall SFH inventory. Victoria has a lot of homes larger than 3 beds. Homes in new developments are almost all larger than 3 bedrooms. I think that 3 bedroom homes are essentially from yester-year. With today's current housing market, a 3 bedroom home often doesn't make sense. A family with 2 or more kids will usually require a larger home (not that there are that many families in this category). Home buyers that need to support their purchase monetarily will look at having a mortgage helper suite. Thus, most new homes are 4 bed, 5 bed, or even larger. Besides, with so much of the home value being in the dirt underneath, you get a lot more bang for your buck with a large home.

Further evidence of 3 bedroom homes not necessarily being a good overall inventory indicator is in the fact that inventory of homes with an asking list price higher than $700000 continues to rise, outpacing lesser priced homes. Inventory of homes less than $700000 is flat, while homes higher than $700k have reached a record percentage of overall SFH listings (since Oct 7, 2006).

Today, there were 865 active SFH home listings on MLS. One month ago, January 27, there were 797 active SFH listings, a difference of 68. There are 28 more active townhome listings, and 25 more condo listings. It is interesting that inventory of home listings is increasing faster than that of condo listings. When new condo developments are released, that's when the inventory of condos gets a shot in the arm. Not much has happened for condo releases over the past month. My question does remain though - why are listings for condo developments like Tuscany Village and The Falls not on MLS??? Having these and other condo projects listed would have a large impact on the inventory of condo listings. Are some developments not listed on MLS to give an impression that the inventory of condos is not as high as it really is? This is for certain - there are a lot more condos for sale than what is listed on MLS!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Victoria Residential Development Projects - Rev A

I've made an attempt at compiling a list of approved residential projects for Greater Victoria. I have not included proposed developments, retirement communities, hotels, or commercial properties. I've taken information from the developers' websites and Vibrant Victoria (VV).

Please do let me know if any information that I've posted is incorrect or if you are aware of any changes in these developments. My disclaimer is that I'm sure that I'll have some errors in my numbers - but that's ok, because I believe this list gives a bigger picture perspective of development in Victoria. I think that so often we are inundated by the latest and greatest project, that we forget what else is all already in progress.

Due to obvious gaps in my chart, I'm not putting a large emphasis on my calculated totals for quantity of units and number of units sold. Perhaps in the future, when most or all gaps are filled, total numbers will be validated.

Total Units = 4011
Total Sold = 447

Again, especially with the total units sold, this number is not accurate. I wish that I could give an accurate number, but I am not privy to the number of units sold in a development. Total units will be relatively accurate. For comparisons sake, VHB's calculation of total approved units in Downtown Vancouver is 9868 (2007 - 2009 completed and under construction). Can a comparison be made? Perhaps. What is the population of downtown Vancouver? How do demographics compare? What is the benefit of a comparison anyways? It may show if one city if more ridiculously oversupplied. Or not.

Victoria Residential Development Projects
Bayview Phase IVictoria101?2008?WVV
Bayview Phase IIVictoria??2008?WVV
Bayview Phase IIIVictoria101?2008?WVV
Synergy - Dockside GreenVictoria100?2008?-VV
Balance - Dockside GreenVictoria100?2009?WVV
AriaVictoria212?2007490 - 525WVV
Mayfair WalkVictoria30182007?250 - 430W-
OswegoVictoria80?2007434 - 571WVV
Parkside VictoriaVictoria400?2008?WVV
Redstone TownhomesVictoria9?2007531 - 595W-
The BreakwaterVictoria1922007?370 - 510W-
The FallsVictoria155?2009?WVV
The PalladianVictoria2952007?350 - 522W-
The Pearl on HillsideVictoria26152007?341 - 367W-
The Gateway at The RailyardsVictoria62232007?383 - 502W-
The ChelseaVictoria66?2008?545 - 850W-
The AdriaVictoria21?2006441 - 481W-
The Harriet GardensVictoria24182007?315 - 334W-
Cherry Bank Hotel CondosVictoria51?2008??--
Admirals LandingEsquimalt4012007?348 - 478--
Swallow’s LandingEsquimalt110?2007535 - ?WVV
The Greenside at Gorge ValeEsquimalt36362007?360W-
The Ironwood at Gorge Vale Phase 4Esquimalt8?2007?364W-
Carey Hill WalkSaanich38222007322 - 412W-
AmaraSaanich36262007380 - 400W-
Oak Street VillageSaanich37?2008?360W-
Richmond GateSaanich54?2007?440 - 490W-
The JuliaSaanich30?2007372 - 420W-
Tuscany VillageSaanich91?2007?W-
Sayward HillSaanich34152007?384 - 645W-
Carriage PointCentral Saanich26?2007?369W-
Holly Farm TownhomesCentral Saanich15?2007??W-
The PierSidney70?2007581 - 618WVV
The AspenView Royal75?2008?340 - 400W-
Royal Roads PlaceColwood163?2009?-VV
Wale Road TowerColwood??2009?-VV
Lagoon EstatesColwood585?2009??WVV
Copperwood CondosColwood50?2008??W-
Latoria WalkColwood??2008??W-
Soaring PeaksLangford201?2009?WVV
McConnell PlaceLangford46?2007?312 - 357W-
The ConductorLangford??2008?WVV
The HighlanderLangford203?2008?WVV
The StrathmoreLangford4542008?263 - 348W-
The Deville Phase IIILangford8?2007?200 - 299W-
Jacklin / Sooke Road TowerLangford??2009??-VV
Hannington Road / Troon Ct TowerLangford??2009??-VV

Ciao VHB!

Thank-you VHB for your informative, interesting, daily reads. I visited your blog before the local papers. You've educated and inspired a lot of us, myself included!

Enjoy your time away!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

February 17 Week Ending Stats

According to, listings in Greater Victoria have risen slightly this week over the past couple weeks. Two bedroom condo listings have risen from a low dip two weeks ago. Three bedroom SFH and townhomes have risen minimally this week.

The quantity of single family homes with a listing value higher than $700000 continues to rise. From a low of 221 listings in the first week of 2007, there are now 264 listings for SFH higher than $700k. Number of listings in other price categories have risen to a lesser extent. The smallest rise has been in the $400k - $500k range. There are only 9 more listings in this price range on MLS today than there were the first week of the new year.

As a result, the percentage of SFH listings with a listing price higher than $700k continues to rise, while the percent of SFH listings with a price between $400k and $500k continues to fall.

A question - where could I find daily information on sales activity and new listings for Greater Victoria? I can appreciate the info that Rob Chipman provides daily on his blog, as well as the info on the Nanaimo Real Estate Blog, when it was functioning. Is daily sales info only available to Realtors? Is there a site or source that provides this info to the general public? Will I have to get my Realtor license to gain access to this privileged information?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

February 10 Week Ending Stats

Listings on MLS for this past week were nearly unchanged. There are 8 more single family homes listed this weekend than there were last weekend. There are 5 additional two bed condos, 7 fewer three bed townhomes, and the same number of three bed SFH listed on MLS.

The percentage of SFH listings in the $400 - 500k price range have steadily decreased from last October. Percentage of SFH listings greater than $700k have been rising for the past couple of weeks.

The pie chart breakdown of SFH listings on MLS, according to price range.

I think there are three possible explanations for the rising number of SFH with an asking price greater than $700k.

1) There are simply more large, luxury homes for sale.
2) Asking prices for homes are rising. What was a SFH in the $600 - 700k price range last year now has a $700k+ price tag.
3) Lesser priced homes, specifically in the $400 - 500k range, are selling, whereas homes with a high price tag are not, thus inventory is building a little faster.

I am not sure which is the correct reason. I'd lean towards #1 or #3. However, if #2 is the reason, I had better buy soon, or I'll forever be priced out of the market! Wait, I'm already priced out of the market. So I'll wait on the sidelines, watch, and cheer for the Bears. I have to cheer for the Bears, if I hope to ever get into this market.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

And the winner is...

Taking price, amenities, location, and housing into consideration, where do you think is the best place to live in Victoria?

When I moved to Victoria a couple years ago, I had no preconceptions, misconceptions, or biases of any sort to any of the neighbourhoods in Victoria. After some time passes, you live in a few different hoods, you get to know the neighbourhoods where friends live, opinions start to form.

Putting aside prejudices, where is the best place to live in Victoria? Some random thoughts about our different neighbourhoods...

Gordon Head - Pros - Safe, close to Mt. Doug park, outer edge is close to the ocean. Cons - Way to many houses from the seventies and the eighties, too far from downtown, no urban centre.

Fairfield - Pros - close to water, downtown, and beacon hill park, nice village fell about it. Cons - Too expensive, boring square apartments.

Esquimalt - Pros - Less expensive than many other neighbourhoods, close to downtown and the water. Cons - Crime, grungy, dirty.

Oak Bay - Pros - Clean front yards, close to the water, Ottavio bakery, and you can feed the seals at the marina. Cons - speed limit is 30 kph, boring clean front yards, way too expensive!

Langford - Pros - Progressive city development (I like it!), a little more affordable, a couple lakes nearby. Cons - Colwood crawl traffic, it's Langford (with a southern drawl), big box stores (well, i don't mind them too much)

Glentana - Pros - ???, maybe, hmm, the fact that it's closer than Langford to the city? Cons - How quickly can we get out of here?

My top neighbourhood pick? I'd say, Fernwood. Close to downtown, prices are a little less, lots of amenities close by, and I really think that that neighbour is turning around and heading in the right direction. Cons - there are a lot of black cats, witches (due to the black cats), and shoes hanging over the power lines.

But really, if money wasn't an issue, I'd soonest live in Fairfield.

What do you think???

Monday, February 5, 2007

Current Developments in Victoria

A reader has come to me asking if I am aware of any source that provides details on current projects in Victoria. We're looking for project start dates, project completion dates, # of units, # sold, etc. Is anyone familiar with a source or website that provides that amount of info?

I'm in the process of creating a list of developments in Victoria for this blog, so a site with such info would give me a big boost.

Another question, are there any housing market issues out there that are craving to be discussed? All suggestions are welcome, as I really hoped this blog would provide a forum for discussion on our local housing market. I have a few in mind and am certainly open to suggestions. Thanks!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

February 3 Week Ending Stats

This past week brought about little change in the real estate listings for Greater Victoria. MLS listings for 3 bedroom SFH and townhomes are rising. The low point appears to have been the first week of the new year. 2 bedroom condo listings are down for the 2nd week in a row. I can't make sense of this. Two questions do come to mind.

1) Where are all the listings for projects such as Tuscany Village, The Falls, Juliet, etc?
2) What happened to the listings for Reflections in Langford? Currently, there is only one listing for that development.

The price breakdown for SFH is essentially unchanged. There is a slight decrease in percentage of homes below $300k, and a slight increase in percentage of homes above $700k. Are asking prices rising? Or are there simply more homes above $700k that have come into the market? Looking at the difference in numbers between this week and last, there are 16 new listings above $700k, and 5 fewer listings below $300k. Of course, this explains the percentage changes. But is there an underlying reason?

I have become somewhat bored in browsing the MLS listings as of late. It's the same old houses, for the same old price. Things are not moving fast. There are not many new listings coming on, and not much change in asking prices. MLS seems to be stagnant. But, it may simply be the time of year that it is. A lot of us are waiting to see what the spring brings to the real estate market for Victoria. Myself included.

What are you seeing in your neighbourhood? Are for sale signs popping up and down along your street? Or are they sitting there for what appears to be forever? What are the feelings toward the market today among people you know?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

January Sales Numbers

January's sales numbers for Greater Victoria have just been posted at VREB. Anticipating the monthly numbers is not unlike watching sports. The game is between the Bulls and the Bears. If 2007 were the beginning of a new football game, I think that the score would be Bulls 3, Bears 0. The game is close, but it is only early.

Average SFH and townhomes were down slightly from the 6 month rolling averages. Average condo is way up from the 6 month average.

SFH had a strong month for prices in View Royal, East Saanich, West Saanich, and North Saanich. SFH had a weak month in Esquimalt and Colwood. A big whoop-dee-doo stat is that nearly a quarter of SFH sold were for under $375k. That sure doesn't bode well for affordability. Less than a quarter of the homes sold were "affordable".

Waterfront condos had a VERY strong month. Without the waterfront condos in the calculation, the average would be $302k. Nearly a $50k difference.

The updated SFH medians graph is all over the place. It's funny how the median can bounce around so much. Up to $70k between some months.

I'm really not a fan of the average price statistic. Luxury properties really skew the results, as shown in the average condo price. I wonder how many sellers and buyers look at the average price to determine what their average property is worth. So many new developments in Greater Victoria are luxury properties. I think that the pulling up of the average selling price statistic, due to the sale of these high-end properties, makes people believe that their non-luxury, average real estate property is worth more than it really is. The sale of 8 high-end condos on the waterfront does not make an average 2 bedroom condo that was worth $300k last month, worth $350k this month.

What's in store for February? Higher prices? Higher inventory? My prediction - inventory will continue to rise. It will remain around 25% higher than last year. Prices will drop slightly. But I've been thinking that for about 2 years!