Now that we have just over a month of experience in the Comox Valley real estate market for 2012, it is time to discuss where we are and where we might be going. The first month of this year saw an increase in listings from Dec 2011. A bit surprising was the percentage increase in Jan 2012 from a year ago. Listings were up about 28%. This is good news for buyers. There is more choice for buyers. While listings were up significantly, sales did not keep pace with the increase. However, sales were up about 13%. This is fairly normal and it will take a bit of time to see if overall sales will keep pace with the number of new listings. February and March will be important months to establish a trend and Courtenay real estate will lead the way in our market.
To place this discussion in a broader context, let’s also take a look at total inventory in the Comox Valley. At the end of January, our total inventory of Comox Valley homes stood at 1146. This was up about 7.5% from where it was a year ago at that time. The average sale price of homes in the valley in January 2012 was down about 2% compared to a year ago and the days to sell was up about 3% compared to a year ago. As I mentioned above, the next two months will be important to establish real estate trends for 2012.
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported an increase in the Conference Board of Canada’s index of consumer confidence in 2012. CREA also reported an increase in the Statistics Canada seasonally adjusted total employment rate with the highest increases reported in Alberta and British Columbia, offsetting job losses in Ontario. While this does not bode well for Ontario and other parts of Eastern Canada, it is a good sign for us out West. Provincially, the British Columbia Real Estate Association is forecasting a 2% increase in sales for our province in 2012 and a 2.7% increase in 2013. By next year we will be above the 15-year average level for sales in BC. While these numbers still are well below the peak we saw in 2007 (currently down about 30% in sales from the peak), the signs are encouraging and moving in the right direction. Slow growth in the Comox Valley real estate market is much better than the no growth in sales we have experienced over the past three years.
On 8 Feb 2012, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported an increase in January’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts by 28% in British Columbia. This stands in stark contrast to the decreases of about 35% in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Here again, preliminary news for BC in 2012 is positive. The starts means jobs and jobs mean people can afford to make purchases. If this trend continues, BC will once again lead the way.
So what does this preliminary information mean for us. As I mentioned in my end of year blog last year, I am optimistic that we will see a leveling in our real estate market this year and we may see an improvement as the year progresses if world events in the news (such as the European Union problems) are effectively addressed. The increase in listings, consumer confidence and new housing starts are all positive signs. The small increases in days to sell and the small decrease in prices are counteracting forces but the data is too small to yet establish any trend for 2012. Remember that the interest rates in Canada remain at or near all time lows. While we start of the year in a buyer’s market, there are opportunities for sellers. Timing, pricing, and marketing are among the important factors for sellers to realize success in this market.
I understand that the choice of a Comox Valley real estate agent is a personal and important decision because it involves your most important and expensive investment – your home. I also understand that trust is important in a client – agent relationship and I will work hard to earn yours. I follow the market closely and know it well. I also follow external factors that have the potential to affect our local market.
Anyone considering buying or selling a home or property in the Comox real estate market in 2012 is encouraged to contact me to discuss your specific needs, what this market means in your specific circumstances, and to discuss some of the unique advantages I can offer my clients.
Ask Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty to be your Comox Valley realtor for 2012. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon which signifies success and happiness. Wishing you happiness and success in business and in your real estate needs for 2012.
by Brett Cairns