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Beware of one-sided election promises on housing: real estate CEO

Last Updated Oct 10, 2019 at 7:11 am PST

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Voters are being warned to watch for one-sided election promises around housing and price relief

Real estate CEO says party leaders need to address demand, not just promise to make buying a home easier

Greater Vancouver is still experiencing a decline in home prices

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –┬áIt seems it’s still a buyers’ market in Metro Vancouver, but the head of one of Canada’s real estate firms is warning that one-sided election promises could quickly change that.

“Housing has received a tremendous amount of attention in this federal election cycle, and it’s easy to understand why,” says Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage. “Today’s first-time home buyers — those in their 20s and 30s — are a very large part of the Canadian population, a bubble of people coming into the age where they make major financial decisions.”

As a consequence, Soper points out there has been plenty of policy focused on helping younger buyers get into the housing market.

“The challenge is that a number of these policies have been what we call ‘demand stimulus’ ideas. They make more people want to buy houses and in our big cities like Vancouver, where we don’t have enough homes for sale to satisfy the current demand, let alone increased demand.”

Soper says the industry would love to see every politician who promises something that will make it easier to buy a house also address how that house will be provided.

“In other words, lower barriers to building, and developing the homes we need to fill the needs of our growing population.”

Otherwise, he argues, a surge in new buyers would cause prices to escalate, erasing any enhanced purchasing power that was promised.

“We need our leaders to shift from focusing on demand-side to supply-side — finding ways to make it more efficient to get adequate volumes of housing into our big cities.”

Meanwhile, Greater Vancouver is still experiencing a decline in home prices.

Royal LePage’s latest Home Price Survey finds the aggregate home price fell 5.2 per cent in the third quarter, compared to the previous year, to $1,194,900.

When broken down by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home and bungalow in Greater Vancouver decreased 4.2 per cent and 7.6 per cent to $1,503,017 and $1,296,447 respectively in the third quarter, compared to the same period in 2018. The median price of a condominium in the region fell 5.9 per cent year-over-year to $646,902.

The only segments of the local market to see increases, year-over-year, were condos in Langley (up 2.2%) and two-storey houses in North Vancouver (up 0.4%).

“Buyers are in control in the detached market. Sellers have had to embrace the new market reality to get deals done,” says Randy Ryalls with Royal LePage Sterling Realty. “As the housing market stabilizes, we’ve seen an increasing number of homebuyers become willing to enter the market.”

Ryalls expects activity to continue to pick up heading toward the end of 2019.