New rules to heat up housing market

Maple Ridge prices made more affordable.

The new mortgage down payment rules, intended to cool down the overheated housing market and put a drag on housing prices, are going to make prices in Maple Ridge even more attractive to buyers, says local realtor Sandra Wyant.

The new rules will require bigger down payments from people buying expensive properties.

Buyers will still be able to purchase a home with just five per cent down, on a property up to $500,000. But with the new rules announced by Ottawa last week, for houses more expensive than that, the purchaser will need to come up with 10 per cent down for the amount more than $500,000.

So, a $500,000 home will require a $25,000 down payment, but a $700,000 house will require $45,000 down.

“We’re probably the only place left with this price point – where you can buy a home for under $500,000,” said Wyant, adding the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows market has just been made even more attractive to new home buyers going forward.

She said the majority of her clients in Maple Ridge are first or second-time buyers, and the requirement for a higher down payment impacts their buying decisions.

Wyant is a past president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and according to the November stats package from that organization, the benchmark price of a single family home in the Lower Mainland was $969,000.

That figure skews upward because of the high Vancouver benchmark has now reached a lofty $1.2 million.

Maple Ridge’s near neighbours are also seeing rising prices: Coquitlam, $938,000; Port Coquitlam, $720,000; and Surrey/Langley, $670,000.

Maple Ridge’s median price of $539,000 is considerably lower, and Pitt Meadows, at $592,000, is also among the most affordable in the region, notes Wyant.

According to the real estate board, the market is just about as hot as it gets. November’s sales were 46 per cent higher than the 10-year sales average for the month, and 2015 saw the second-highest sales total ever for a November, with 3,524 properties sold on the Multiple Listings Service.

“November is typically one of the quietest months of the year in our housing market, but not this year,” Darcy McLeod, REBGV president and a Maple Ridge realtor.

“The ratio of sales to homes available for sale reached 44 per cent in November, which is the highest it’s been in our market in nine years,” he added.

The “very robust” real estate market in Maple Ridge will only get hotter with the new down payment rules, predicts Wyant.

The new regulations take effect on Feb. 15, and she predicts there will be a flurry of activity as buyers attempt to complete their purchases before that deadline, when they would need to come up with thousands more down.

“We’re already seeing it – the five per cent down buyers will be all wanting to complete.

“It will definitely heat up in the period between now and then.”

There is a problem in the market – not enough inventory.

She has people who would like to list their houses, but can’t face the uncertainty of not being able to purchase something new.

“Our listing inventory has never been this low,” she said.

An empty nester who wants to downsize can sell their house, and they are buying new townhomes based on seeing the show homes, but even those opportunities are running out.

“There’s no product that you could move into between now and April,” she said. “There’s a very high demand for new product.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I’ve never seen our inventory as low as it is now. People have really discovered Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.”

 

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