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Selling your home now? Market needs it

Sales of detached homes, townhouses and apartments are all up in the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows
Irena Shantz with RE/MAX LifeStyles Realty in Maple Ridge says housing sales have been steadily increasing since the beginning of this year.

If you’re looking to sell your home, and you have a well-kept house that’s valued in the $400,000 to $500,000 range, now would be a great time to list.

That’s the word from local realtors Irena Shantz and Terry Passley, who are busy, busy these days because such homes are selling like hotcakes right now.

It’s kind of unusual, they both admit, given that real estate sales typically slow right down in the summer months, but the market has been on an upswing since April and each agrees it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Sales of detached homes, townhouses and apartments are all up in the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows area, with townhomes leading the charge at a whopping 29-per-cent increase over last year for the period April through June. Apartment sales –primarily new inventory – showed a 28-per-cent increase for the same period, and detached homes showed a 20 per cent gain.

The big problem right now, says Irena Shantz of Re/Max Lifestyles Realty, is that there isn’t enough inventory available when it comes to single family detached houses.

“Unique properties are staying on the market a long time,” the long-time Maple Ridge real estate agent says. “Anything below $500,000 that is presented nicely is selling fast.”

Shantz notes “unique” properties might include those that are custom builds, have specific geographic issues (flood plains for instance), or ones that are more expensive.

Terry Passley, a veteran agent with Coldwell Banker Tri-Tel Realty, concurs when it comes to the “sweet spot” in the current market.

“It’s definitely hard to find inventory in the lower price range right now,” he notes, adding that anything under $500,000 is tough to find, while there’s much more to choose from in the $500,000 to $700,000 range.

Passley says he believes the market has turned a corner, and is finally rising to the 2011 levels that followed the 2008 market implosion. He’s seeing more building, with “builders absorbing existing lots because they’re feeling more confident in the marketplace.”

He’s also bullish when it comes to buying apartments because there’s currently a glut of new units on the market thanks to a recent building boom.

He says there are a lot of good deals on apartments right now because the market has a large supply and developers are willing to help would-be buyers get into one of those units.

Shantz’ assessment of the situation is that now is definitely a good time to put a house on the market if it’s priced in the lower range.

“The momentum indicates we’re moving back towards the 2011 high. We’re not quite there, but it’s moving in the right direction.”

Though she doesn’t have a crystal ball, Shantz says she doesn’t see any impediments to the market staying buoyant… unless the government, CMHC or the Bank of Canada have something to spring on the market that they haven’t hinted at.

“There’s always talk, but I don’t think we need to worry in the short term.”

Passley, too, doesn’t see anything in the near future that might affect the market adversely. He says Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows should continue to do well because they’re better priced when compared to communities west and south, and because of those communities’ proximity to Mother Nature.

“Yesterday I had people from Calgary in the car because they wanted to be close to nature, and the day before it was people from Burnaby. We have what people want.”

Statistics from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver at the end of June show that Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows combined saw 394 detached home sales from April through June compared to 328 in the same period in 2013. Townhouse sales were 150 in 2014 compared to 118 in 2013, and apartment sales were 100 in 2014 compared to 76 the previous year.

Detached home listings for the same period were down eight per cent this year compared to last, while attached and apartment listings were down 21 and 19 per cent respectively.

“Over the last three years we’ve seen changes in demand yet home prices at the regional level have remained relatively stable,” said REBGV president Ray Harris. “The sales-to-active-listing ratio currently sits at 21.3 per cent in Greater Vancouver, which is the highest this measure has been since June 2011.”



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