Mortgage eligibility rules now require borrowers to prove they would be able to still afford to pay their mortgages if their approved rate went up by two per cent.

Maple Ridge home prices still going up, but fewer buying

Double the inventory for people house hunting

The number of residential real estate deals being made in Maple Ridge has dropped, but the same hasn’t happened to prices.

When it comes to the price of a single family home, they’ve jumped by 10 per cent in Maple Ridge, when July 2017 is compared to July 2018, said Macdonald Realty manager Tom Garvey.

When it comes to condos, it’s the same scenario.

Garvey said the average price for a condo in Maple Ridge is now $324,400 – a jump of 37 per cent from July 2017 to July 2018, according to numbers from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

At the same time, the number of actual sales of condos has dropped by the same amount – 37 per cent – while the amount of housing inventory has more than doubled.

However, the comparatively lower prices in Maple Ridge are keeping up local prices, he added.

The average price of a townhouse in the city has jumped 13 per cent – to $567,600 in the same time period, although the number of sales have also dropped.

And there are twice as many townhomes now on the market compared to a year ago.

“So there’s a lot more product on the market,” said Garvey.

“Prices are not dropping for the simple reason, the cost of building these things.”

Maple Ridge is also a more active market compared to Coquitlam because prices here are lower than the rest of Metro Vancouver, making housing more affordable to more people.

Garvey said the 20 per cent foreign buyer’s and speculation taxes have had an effect at the top end of the market. But as a result, foreign money is now going into commercial and agricultural real estate around Metro Vancouver.

He added that the financial stress announced last fall by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is one of the major reasons the market has slowed down.

Mortgage eligibility rules now require borrowers to prove they would be able to still afford to pay their mortgages if their approved rate went up by two per cent. That’s particularly harsh for first-time buyers, he added.

But instead of stiffening borrowing requirements, the government should have started taxing condo pre-sales, to discourage flipping of properties.

Last May, condos were selling for 50 per cent more than they were the year before.

Garvey doesn’t see any big crashes in those prices coming, adding there is a summertime lull, as there is every year.

Still, he said he’s starting to see price reductions.

“But right now, prices are fairly stable.”

People keep wanting to move here because of the environment, he added, noting Metro Vancouver is an international urban area.

“If there was going to be a big crash, it would happen elsewhere, as well. I don’t expect a massive downturn to happen. If it is, it’s not just going to be in this market, it will be all across North America.”

Philip Edge, a realtor in Maple Ridge since 1991, said the housing market has normalized and balanced this year. He said there’s now a 12- to 20-per-cent sales-to-active-listings ratio, meaning those percentages of homes are being sold of the total inventory on the market.

He said higher interest rates and government taxes are all affecting the number of buyers. A condo is going for about $400,000 and townhomes $600,000 in Maple Ridge, making this area attractive to buyers moving out from closer to Vancouver.

“We’re still doing good,” he said.

His office did more than $16 million in real estate sales last July.

He compared Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to an island, separated by the Pitt, Fraser and Stave rivers from the rest of the region.

Edge maintains that interest rates are still lower than they should be and that rates could rise gradually to six per cent within six or seven years.

He said the financial stress test could be the government’s way of ensuring against a spike in interest rates. A five-year mortgage is now at about 3.3 per cent.

“A year ago, we had some crazy prices.”

Now, it’s a more realistic housing market and buyers now are more qualified, Edge added.

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