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Balanced conditions provide stable backdrop for buyers, sellers

Realtors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows say the housing market is stable and balanced
Harvey Exner

Stable and balanced. Those are the descriptors used by the managing brokers for two local real estate companies when it comes to the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows housing market today. Which means it’s a good time to be buying or selling because there’s finally some predictability in the marketplace after several years of ups and downs.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) concurs, noting in its July market report that, across the region, “balanced conditions provide a stable backdrop for today’s home buyers and sellers.”

The report’s benchmark price index bear this out, showing that Maple Ridge’s residential composite one-year change from June 2012 to June 2013 was a meagre minus two per cent, while in Pitt Meadows prices increased 1.5 per cent.

For single-family detached homes, the drop in Maple Ridge was 1.1 per cent, while in Pitt Meadows it was just 0.1 per cent.

Townhomes were similar, with Maple Ridge experiencing a 2.7 per cent drop in the benchmark price and Pitt Meadows a 0.1 per cent again.

The greatest fluctuation was in apartments, which was at minus 5.6 per cent in Maple Ridge and plus 5.5 per cent in Pitt Meadows.

“To me, this is the sign of a stable market,” says Harvey Exner, managing broker with Macdonald Realty Maple Ridge.

“There have not been huge changes in any pricing [for the past year], which is a good thing for buyers and sellers because it creates some predictability for both.”

Glenn Chivers, managing broker at Re/Max Lifestyles Realty, likes what he sees right now because “a balanced market is fair for everybody.

“You don’t have to play the lowball game as much if you’re a seller, and buyers are getting a fair price provided the home is priced right.”

Of course, price is just one factor in determining market conditions, and both Chivers and Exner agree that balance and stability can only be achieved if there’s adequate inventory available.

Year-over-year statistics from the REBGV show that for the months of January through June, combined numbers for the two communities show detached home listings down 11 per cent, at 1,234;  townhouse listings down three per cent, at 407; and apartments down less than one per cent, at 369.

Those numbers are good enough for Exner, who says there’s an adequate amount of inventory in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to supply the needs of both local residents and those looking from outside of the community.

The sales numbers are equally promising, says Chivers, who suggests low interest rates and stable prices are the main reasons for sales right now.

REBGV stats show there were 540 detached homes sold in the two communities from January through June, down about 11 per cent.

Townhouse sales have dropped quite a bit, with 183 being sold compared to 228 over the same time period in 2012.

Apartment sales dropped about 13 per cent, with 129 getting a sold sticker so far this year.

The median selling price for detached homes through June was $474,900; for townhouses it was $302,750; and for apartments, $210,000.

Both brokers agree that things are generally good in the market right now, and probably will be for at least the rest of the year.

If there is a weakness going forward, they also agree that it’s in the apartment market, where a “glut” of new apartment units has hit the market recently.

Chivers figures there’s about an eight- to 10-month supply – “maybe more” – of apartments on the market, with many of them brand new, meaning anyone trying to sell an apartment over the course of the next year will face some stiff competition.

However, don’t panic, he adds, because as long as you price your house, townhouse or apartment well, it will likely sell.

His best advice?

“Listen to your realtor. He or she knows the market.”

Robert Prince is a freelance writer who lives in Maple Ridge.

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