Leanne Drolet

Royal LePage Sterling Realty

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With no obvious bumps looming, the housing market is forecast to chug along in 2015. According to economist Bryan Yu, the industry should continue to register growth in the Lower Mainland.


“The overall sale cycle is expected to grow, not as rapid as we saw in 2014, but relatively modest, probably about five percent,” Yu told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

Median prices in Metro Vancouver could rise by about three percent, added the analyst with Central 1 Credit Union, the Vancouver-based financial facility and trade association of credit unions in B.C. and Ontario. “Detached-home sales were the key driver of overall price gains,” Yu said. “We expect that to continue in 2015.”

Based on a report by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price of a single-family home increased 7.9 percent in November 2014 compared to the same month of the previous year, to $997,800.

Yu said that because of the region’s limited land supply, detached housing is “essentially a scarce, almost a luxury product”. Population growth, a good economy, and low interest rates will drive the market’s steady pace, according to Yu.

In a report released in November 2014, Central 1 projected that B.C.’s economy will expand by 2.7 percent in 2015, slightly outpacing the predicted growth of 2.5 percent in 2014. Annual employment growth was projected to reach 0.8 percent in 2014, rising 1.4 percent in the succeeding year, according to the Central 1 paper authored by Yu.

The report also anticipated that 2014’s provincewide home sales would top the previous year’s total by 14 percent.

“While we should be cautious about using average prices, which are up six percent from a year ago, constant-quality price indices point to a four percent gain in the Lower Mainland and a two percent gain on Vancouver Island,” the document stated.

Central 1 will release its housing outlook for 2015 in mid-January, but don’t expect any major surprises.

“We don’t see a lot of risks,” Yu said in the interview.

In a paper released last fall, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation forecast a steady pace of home starts in the Vancouver metropolitan region. It projected 18,700 new constructions in 2015, compared to an estimated 18,900 in 2014.

The national housing agency also anticipated the momentum of the resale market in the Lower Mainland to continue into 2015. It projected that 2014 would end with 32,800 homes resold and prices averaging $811,000 for the year, representing increases of 13 and six percent, respectively, compared to the previous year.

Sales of existing homes across B.C. are expected to total 80,000 in 2015, based on a report by the Canadian Real Estate Association. That’s slightly lower than the projected sales of 81,600 in 2014. The CREA estimates that prices will average $566,700 in 2015, or a bit higher than the anticipated 2014 provincewide average of $566,000.

In a financial-system review released in December 2014, the Bank of Canada noted that the country’s housing market is overvalued by at least 10 percent and as much as 30 percent.

However, the national bank also pointed out that the market “exhibited only a modest degree of upward creep since 2009”. It also mentioned that prices in the past decade haven’t deviated much from key economic measures, unlike the sharp increases that were associated with housing downturns in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to the Bank of Canada, this “supports the view that a soft landing is the most likely way forward”.

Like Central 1’s Yu, analyst Don Campbell expects the region’s real-estate market to see consistent growth.

Campbell is the founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network, a Langley-based company that provides market analysis to clients. In addition to factors like low interest rates, the market will also be driven by new immigrants as well as foreign buyers.

“Unless one of those…black swans shows up…or something like that that slows everything down,” Campbell told the Straight by phone, “but given if everything is as it is right now, the market should continue on its path.”

Courtesy of the stright.com and Carlito Pablo on Dec 31, 2014


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