At this time of the year the our regional real estate market generally becomes more active. But what exactly does this mean and why is it important? If you are a home buyer or a home seller in this market this information is important because it may directly affect the purchase or sale of your home.
In order to capture the pulse and direction of this real estate market let’s take a look at a few statistics. Last month there were a total of 229 units listed. At that time last year the number was 263. This year the total number of real estate listings in February was 1239. A year before it was 1371. The statistics in January 2014 were similar. The number of units listed was 243 compared to 300 and the total number of real estate listings was 1135 compared to 1266 the year prior. So, based on these two months, listings were down about 18-19% by month compared to the year before and the total number of listings was down about 10%. Clearly, two months statistics alone do not tell the entire story but when combined with first hand experience a more complete picture materializes.
Let’s go back in history for a moment and look back to how we arrived at 2014. The Comox Valley property market peaked in 2007 and total sales plummeted the next year by about 32%. 2008 was a rocky year and it marked the beginning of a new cycle and a new reality for our real estate region. Throughout the period 2009 to 2012 there were fluctuations up and down but the overall trend was clear. Sales were down and they stayed down at or near the levels in 2008. Time to sell started to increase and so did the total amount of inventory. If we were describing the stock market we would use terms like a “bear” market to describe what was happening. Our market became a buyer’s market and it stayed so from the end of 2008 through 2013. While all of this was happening interest rates in Canada dropped to at or near 50 year lows. The end result was a great opportunity for buyers to buy a home or property in the Comox Valley.
As we experienced 2013, there were a few more subtle changes in Comox Valley area home prices and sales. Beginning in late spring homes that represented the core of the Comox real estate market (split level homes that are considered classic for the area) began to adjust downwards in price. If one of these homes sold for about $310K in the spring, many were selling in the $280K range by the late fall. There was a definite price adjustment in the market that seemed to signal the end of a cycle. So where are we now? Listings are down and sales have started to move. As this trend continues demand will increase and the market should start moving away from the buyer-centric focus it has had for the past 5 years to one that becomes a bit more neutral. While these types of changes take time, there are indications that this change is underway. How quickly and how markedly the changes occur will depend on a number of factors, some of which are beyond the scope of our local real estate market. However, any movement in this direction is a good sign for sellers, especially those who have been trying to sell for some time.
As I am sure many of you know, real estate is a cyclical business (within each year and across a number of years). The current homes featured in Courtenay market remains good for buyers and it is moving towards a better situation for sellers. Even with these changes and this movement, there are a few constants as follows:
- Price is important in most market conditions. Homes priced above the market are harder to sell and in some markets they may attract little or no attention when homes of better value are placed on the market
- Homes that are clean and properly presented make better first impressions and they are more likely to attract buyers.
- Homes that are maintained well are more likely to have fewer problems when offers are made and inspections are completed during the removal of conditions phase of an offer
While there is much more to real estate considerations associated with the current conditions of the Comox Valley real estate market, these of some of the more obvious ones. If you are looking to buy or sell a Comox Valley home, contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty to make an appointment with me so we can discuss how he can help you meet your real estate needs.
by Brett Cairns