July 2019 Market Update- Vancouver Real Estate

July 1, 2019

As usual the latest market stats will appear in my monthly Stilhavn newsletter (if you are not receiving it yet and would like to, let me know!). This below is more just my personal view on the market from the trenches.

In terms of sales volume it has been the quietest year for over a decade in Vancouver. People are comparing it to 2008, but I don’t see it quite that way. In 2008, in the wake of the stock market crash in the U.S., the real estate market in Vancouver came to a dead stop for approximately 6 months but then recovered almost as fast and restarted right where it left off. 

What we are dealing with now feels more like two other “lulls” I have worked through, the first in the UK in the late 80’s and the second here in the late 90’s when I had just returned to Vancouver. In the 80’s, the Thatcher government announced 9 months ahead of time that they would be tightening the rules around tax relief on mortgage interest, which created a complete buying frenzy for those 9 months. Following the deadline the market then flatlined and it took almost 5 years before the next growth spurt began. In the 90’s the Vancouver market (houses in particular) had been buoyed by buyers coming from Hong Kong. When the transfer of sovereignty occurred in 1997, many of those same buyers returned to Hong Kong. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that the market really started to fire again on all cylinders.

So how might this translate to today’s market? In my opinion this is a similar calm after the storm. The sales volume will likely remain low in the second half of 2019 and prices will continue to soften. I would not be surprised to see both of these things change in the spring of 2020, with lower prices and renewed confidence drawing buyers back into the market. However even if there is a recovery, I do not think we will see a return to the kind of extraordinary market conditions many have mistakenly viewed as normal here for the past two decades, at least not for the next couple of years. I envisage a market for the next 12-24 months where people buy and sell less often, real estate returns to being more about housing than making fast money, and prices still rise but at a much more modest rate. 

If I am right about all this, then how might this impact you if you are considering buying or selling? Perhaps surprisingly the answer is not very much. Life goes on, people need to move for all the reasons they always have, and in many ways these kind of market conditions can make that process significantly less painful and sometimes more rewarding, especially if you have the right guide.  If you are interested in a preliminary discussion anytime, you know where to find me!