While debate continues about the effect of foreign investment on Vancouver housing prices, what’s at least clear in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is that the housing business is booming.
But as to whether that’s all caused by a flood of money coming from overseas, “It’s really hard to know,” says realtor John Dale.
“It’s not just in real estate, it’s cars … people are just spending a pile of money.”
Dale said Vancouver is one of the top places in the world to live and people are moving here from China, India and the Philippines, continuing the long tradition of immigration to this country.
“Do we restrict that? That’s what made Canada.”
Low interest rates and the resurgent economy and steady demand is boosting the market as well as prices.
Dale said the number of homes that come on to the market is equalling the number of homes that are selling.
“Everything that comes up is selling.”
In the last six months, townhouse prices have jumped 4.5 per cent in Maple Ridge and seven per cent in Pitt Meadows.
As for apartments, prices have jumped about 3.5 per cent in both markets.
But Dale said the demand in this area seems to be more from immigrants or residents who are already living and established here, rather than money directly coming from offshore.
He compares today’s real estate to the heady times of 2001-03.
“A lot of people are hopping off the fence.”
And the good times are not just in B.C., it’s worldwide.
“There’s some confidence in the economy now.”
Still, he knows that has a downside. As prices climb, those who don’t have a home find it increasingly tougher to buy one.
“I don’t know how my kids are going to buy a house without me giving them a couple hundred thousand for a down payment.”
For realtor Paul Craik, the numbers from a recent house sale in central Maple Ridge say it all.
In July 2013, the house was listed at $589,000 – and didn’t sell. The price was dropped to $579,000.
That house just sold recently at $15,000 over the listing price – for a final sale price of $614,000.
Fifteen potential buyers trooped through the house in one day. Two of those were Asian, one Korean and one Chinese from Surrey. But the buyer was a family relocating from Toronto.
He also sold another home to a buyer who still works in China but who had a house in Delta. They sold that to buy in Maple Ridge.
“They thought Maple Ridge was a good investment.”
But Craik also says the price increases are completely driven by overseas demand.
Most people buying in Maple Ridge are Caucasian, he added.
Low interest rates, shortage of single-family homes and high demands are pushing the market.
Craik added Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows haven’t seen the rush that Coquitlam is experiencing.
“Things aren’t going crazy,”
Another stat, though, shows how busy it is to be in the business.
In the last two weeks in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows area, Craik said there have been 178 new homes of all types listed on the market. Meanwhile, 176 homes, single family, townhouses and apartments, have sold in that period.
He said if he was an investor, this wouldn’t be the time to get into the market.
In the same period, there have been 68 changes to the prices for those homes.
According to the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, the benchmark price for houses continued to gain in 2015 to reach $595,600 in April. That’s up 15 per cent from five years ago.
The strongest gains were in South Surrey/White Rock, where houses were up eight per cent since April 2014.
Townhouses have been tepid, however, with the Fraser Valley benchmark price of $300,400 up just 0.6 per cent from a year earlier and down 1.9 per cent from five years ago.