CHARTS: Cooled off or not, the Fraser Valley remains a home-sellers’ market

With the supply-demand equation still tilted in favour of sellers, most homes continue to sell in less than two weeks.

By Tyler Olsen | April 7, 2022 |5:00 am

The Fraser Valley’s real estate market is still heavily tilted in favour of sellers.

This week, Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman told the provincial legislature that the local housing market appeared to have “cooled off.” In remarks that drew fire from political opponents, and which he later amended, Banman said local realtors were holding open houses and suggested the worst of the housing scramble may be over.

Banman’s remarks were made during a debate this week about proposed new legislation to slow the escalation of home prices. But he is hardly the only one speculating over the future of the fiendishly unpredictable and volatile housing market.

Anecdotes abound of course, and some have reported for-sale signs sticking around for a little longer. But the best data we have suggests homes continue to be sold as quickly as ever, once they are listed for sale. However, the figures also suggest that the sky-high demand for homes seen last year has moderated, albeit not yet to levels that suggest a slowdown is imminent.

Two weeks to sell

Each month (aside from December), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board discloses the average selling time for houses, townhomes, and apartments in the region. (We asked, but city-by-city listing time averages are not available. The FVREB covers a region spanning from White Rock to Abbotsford.)

In March, the board said a house took about 14 days to sell, a townhome 12 days, and an apartment 11 days. Those are the quickest sell-times for townhomes and apartments in at least the last four years. (The figures were inconsistently reported before 2018.) Data from Chilliwack’s real estate board backs those figures up. In the Chilliwack area, houses sold in around 12 days, apartments in 19 days, and townhomes in just eight.

Both prices, and the time it takes to sell a home, are a function of supply and demand. And the numbers of homes being bought, and being sold, suggest that while there is more wiggle room than last year, there is still plenty of demand.

A sellers’ market

In March, there were three homes sold for every four active listings across Langley, Mission, and Abbotsford (not all homes sell within a month). Although that ratio is lower than it was last year (on a percentage basis: 94% to 73%), it’s historically very high. In 2019 and 2020, for instance, when the market saw home prices remain level, there was one sale for every four listings.

The ratio is a high-level indication of supply and demand. (On a house-by-house basis, it’s imprecise: not all homes are listed, or sell; some are listed at prices meant to test the market, others sell before ever really hitting the market.) The British Columbia Real Estate Association considers a “balanced market” to have a ratio between 12% and 20%, and a sellers’ market to be anything beyond that 20% level.

Today’s sale-to-listings ratio is close to that seen between 2016 and 2018, when prices skyrocketed and sales ran between 61% and 88% of active listings. That continuing demand would suggest that while today’s home market may be slightly less than red-hot, it’s not exactly “cool.” Any comparison with last year’s record numbers obscures how busy the market remains; while the number of sales was down 22% from last year, they remain more than double that seen in 2020.

Demand remains particularly high for apartments: the number of sales actually outpaced the number of active listings last month across Langley, Abbotsford, and Mission (A listing-to-sales comparison isn’t available for Chilliwack). There’s more supply when it comes to the valley’s now-super-expensive single-family houses, and townhomes are somewhere in between. Sales remain particularly brisk in Abbotsford.

Of course, the housing market is a dynamic beast and one that can change relatively quickly. Some economists and bankers are forecasting a significant slump in the housing market, while others are hedging their bets.

Banman, for his part, walked back his comments after he made them on Tuesday. He said he wasn’t saying prices themselves have cooled off, but that “panicked multiple bidding” had declined in the riding.

The data suggests there is less competition for each home up for sale, but the market remains tilted in favour of home-sellers.

Tyler Olsen

Managing Editor at Fraser Valley Current

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