Spring arrives early for home prices

Maple Ridge median home prices are up five per cent from last year.

  • Mar. 22, 2015 5:00 p.m.

Spring is traditionally one of the busiest times for new home purchases.

This year, spring came early for both Mother Nature and the local real estate market.

Friday, technically, is the vernal equinox, which specifically refers to the cycle of nature, the seasons, the flowers, the bees, and so forth. But the flowers and trees have been in bloom for more than a month, regardless of the calendar’s dictation of when things should happen.

And while spring’s arrival, both by the calendar and by the sun, is ahead of schedule, so too is the Lower Mainland’s – and the upper Fraser Valley’s – real estate sales season for buyers and sellers alike.

With spring’s thaw – not that we need one this year – and families considering moves in the year ahead to come, the children’s school schedule often dictates the dates and terms of the housing market with spring listings and summer possession dates.

Now is the time many homeowners prepare their homes for sale, while others plan ahead in preparation to buy a new home.

And according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, conditions within the Metro Vancouver housing market continued to strengthen in February as home sales and listing totals came in well above the region’s 10-year average for the winter-as-usual month.

“It’s an active and competitive marketplace today. Buyers are motivated and homes that are priced competitively are selling at a brisk pace right now,” board president Ray Harris says in a release.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totaled 5,425 in February, representing a 15.4- per-cent increase compared to the 4,700 new listings reported in February 2014.

Areas covered by real estate board include Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, as well as: Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, New Westminster and South Delta

Last month’s new listing count for the region was 11.8 per cent higher than the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month; and the sales-to-active-listings ratio in February was 25.7 per cent, the highest it’s been in Metro Vancouver since March 2011.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-area detached-home listings jumped from 179 in February 2014 to 190 in February 2015; and from 148 in January to 190 this month.

The numbers show that this is translating into early spring sales locally too for detached homes.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-area detached-home sales jumped from 91 in February 2014 to 127 in February 2015; which was 28 more sales than in January.

“We’re seeing more multiple offer situations and generally more traffic at open houses today,” Harris says.

The listings numbers were as strong for attached homes (townhomes, duplexes, etc.) or apartments locally, despite having lower sales over the same period.

Those homes combined for 137 listings in February 2015 versus 119 in February a year earlier, compared to 73 sales in February 2014 and only 64 sales in February this year.

The median price for a Maple Ridge single-family, detached home rose 5.1 per cent — to $480,500 — in February over the same month last year.

In Pitt Meadows, the same median price rose 6.3 per cent to $527,800 over the median price from February 2014.

For more information or statistics on the local real estate market, go online to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver website at rebgv.org.

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