Realtors point out rise in condo listings even as sales and prices increase

Home sales and prices are up and the housing market is recovering from the pandemic shutdown, according to the latest reports from the Metro Vancouver real estate sectors.

But it’s not a straightforward, bounce-back story and there are nuances in other recent numbers, according to realtors.

“The market is very segmented right now,” said Vancouver realtor Steve Saretsky, “not like 2016 where everything is going up and it doesn’t matter what it is.”

He said one of the best ways to see the trend is to examine the so-called number of months of inventory. This is the number of sales listings divided by the number of monthly sales.

“Right now, in Greater Vancouver, in the detached market for (homes) under $2 million, there are 2.8 months of supply for sale. Anything under four, it a seller’s market. So that explains the multiple offers everyone is hearing about.”

It’s a different story when it comes to condos. There are around fours months of supply listed for sale, tilting that market to one that favours buyers, said Saretsky.

Ian Watt, a Vancouver realtor who specializes in Yaletown condos, said people need to look beyond the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s headline numbers, which highlighted August home sales hitting 3,047, nearly 20 per cent higher than the 10-year average for August, though slightly lower than the 3,128 homes sold in July.

The Board’s August benchmark price for all homes in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, South Delta, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver and West Vancouver was 5.3 per cent higher than last year and slightly higher than in July.

However, when you drill down into certain areas, such as condos in downtown Vancouver, there are signs of things going the other way, said Watt.

“This is the first time since May 2014 that we have seen over 1,000 active (condo) listings in downtown Vancouver.”

He compares that to the 382 listings in August 2017 “when the condo market was quite hot” and condos priced between $600,000 to $700,00 were selling fast, with 47 per cent of available listings selling each month. Today, he said, there are 1,085 downtown condo listings with just 15 per cent selling each month.

The number of listings in the downtown condo market represents a whopping six months of inventory. With sales normally quieter in the winter, the inventory could rise to eight months.

“Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying the market is crashing, but it’s a great time to be a buyer.”

Watt added that five large sales propped up the August median sale price for downtown Vancouver condos, and it’s telling that listings not only increased 12 per cent last month to 1,085, but they have gone up by 54 per cent since August 2019.

“Obviously, (more sellers) are feeling the effects of COVID-19 and deciding it’s time to unload their debt.”