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March Market update - Coal Harbour

Blog by Shaun Kimmins | March 1st, 2010

Hello Coal Harbour and Olympic fans. The past month has been an amazing time in Vancouver. THe Olympics brought more excitement than most of us imagined it could. The streets of Downtown were literally full of revellers for the entire time and despite reports of a few bad apples, the atmosphere was festive and friendly. Sadly, we are now experisncing post partum Olympic Blues but we have many fond memories.

Ironically, driving in most of downtown was much easier during the games due to the no praking rules as well as the "aversion factor" that had many drivers staying away. This allowed the real estate market to march onward, mostly unafffected, except that most buyers were glued to their TV's and not shopping for real estate.

What was the actual effect of the games on our city and Vancouver's real estate market? That remains to be seen. I personally did not see any increase in activity due to the presence of "the eyes of the world" and in fact, showings slowed on most listings. There are some who predicted the tripling of real estate values as a result of the games but this hasn't come to fruition yet. Time will tell but given the delicate state of global finances and the inexorable addition of new, luxury condominiums, as well as older product, to the resale market, I find it difficult to imagine such a scenario in the near-term.

The reality is that as of March 1 2010 we have seen a 16% increase in active listings and a 17% decrease in sales in Coal Harbour compared with levels as of February 1 2010. Click to view the MARCH Coal Harbour Stats I have been predicting for some time that we will see a sharp increase in listing activity coupled with a potentially slowing demand when interest rates begin their inevitable climb. Nobody seems to know when that will be but the good news is that the threat of higher rates has many buyers buying right now.

As usual we have a mix of reasonably-priced properties in Coal Harbour and downtown Vancouver in general and we have some Olympic-priced properties listed by unmotivated sellers attempting to cash in on the games. Good luck with that. It's always been my opinion that anyone savvy enough to be in a position to buy and sell real estate internationally, is savvy enough to do their homework and determine what market value is. Not only that, but it's also my opinion that most savvy, international real estate buyers and sellers already know about the Vancouver real estate market and were not suddenly let out of the dark by the Olympics. History shows that Olympic Games have virtually no effect on previously well developed host cities. I have no reason to believe that Vancouver will be any different. See my previous BLOG posting on this topic.

So what does this Spring and Summer hold for Coal Harbour's and Vancouver's real estate market? That's always the $64,000 question and here's my view: We'll see a merked increase of active listings listed at ever-more optimistic prices and a strong buyer demand until either 1. affordability, 2. interest rates or 3. more highly motivated, competing sellers begin to under-cut eachother. As an example of this, Fairmont Pacific Rim began its completions a few weeks ago and as of today there are 20 properties listed for sale in the building. another example is the Millenium Water project (that housed the Olympic Athletes Village). This project, backed by Vancouver to the tune of $500,000,000.00 remains largely unsold. apparently there are still 750 unsold condos yet to hit the market. If you think this won't have an effect on the downtown condo market, think again. As Bob Rennie says, real estate is all about scarcity and when 750 units hit the market, scarcity will be a thing of the past. As for demand, affordability is already a serious issue so wait until rates increase by 2% or 3%.

All in all I see a golden opportunity to capitalize on the current "surge" in buyer-demand in advance of rate increases and the HST tax which will take effect July 1st 2010.