From the Office - April 2020

We will get back up! Considering the extent of lock down, the momentum of what March started certainly carried over into April. While sales were down and new listings were down, there was still participation in the market as Realtors found ways to present properties virtually and look at ways to ensure socially distanced showings could happen if necessary. Buyers were there and continue to be, with multiple offers occurring, even as of last week. 

There were 1,119 homes sold of all types in Greater Vancouver in April this year compared with 2,562 homes sold last month, 1,850 sales in April last year and 2,631 homes sold in April 2018. Sales and listings were well below the ten-year average but actually higher than in November and December 2008 and January 2009, all three months below 1,000 homes sold. The last two weeks of April showed home sales average 48 per day compared with 138 per day during the first two weeks of March – a reduction of 75 per cent. New listings were down 51 per cent with there being an average of 122 per day compared to 253 per day at the beginning of March. 

2020 Average Daily Sales by Week in Covid times: 
First two weeks of March – 253 new listings, 138 sales
March 23 to 27 – 172 New Listings, 131 Sales
March 30 to April 3 – 104 new listings, 62 sales
April 6 to April 9 – 137 new listings, 58 sales
April 14 to 17 – 131 new listings, 63 sales
April 20 to 24 – 117 new listings, 48 sales
April 27 to May 1 – 126 new listings, 48 sales  

With the reduction in the number of homes sold and the number of homes being listed, absorption of new listings was actually stronger this April then compared with April 2019, 47 per cent compared to 31 per cent. The 47 per cent this year was even better than April 2018 at 44 per cent. Buyers were more engaged with the limited number of new listings than we’ve seen in April for the last 2 years – with more incidents of multiple offers occurring. Had more homes come on to the market we would have likely seen more home sales as a result. 

Some highlights from April: 

  • Detached home sales in Vancouver West were slightly higher than January of this year, with a 58 per cent absorption rate and a slight increase in the average price for April compared to March
  • Detached home sales in most areas had high absorption rates compared to attached homes, perhaps a sign of a push towards separate space and less home owners willing to part with that and put their homes up for sale
  • The last two weeks of April showed the most significant lag in home sales and new listings, but similar to the end of March, home sales reported are from weeks previous and anecdotal reports indicated more activity amongst home buyers and sellers
  • While Month’s of Supply increased in April due to lower sales totals, pushing areas into Buyer’s Market Conditions on paper– this will be temporary and even with those conditions we are seeing sales that favor sellers.
The number of homes for sale in Greater Vancouver saw a slight decrease in April. At the end of April there were 10,115 homes for sale, compared to 10,315 at the end of March and 15,060 at the end of April 2019 – a 33 per cent reduction in the number of homes available year-over-year. As expected, the number of homes that came to market in April were half that of March with 2,399 homes listed for sale, compared with 4,521 in March. We will come out of this pandemic with an extremely under supplied housing market, for both resale homes and presale homes. And while there are already some anticipating a drop in home prices as a result, activity through the worst of the pandemic hasn’t indicated that so far. As local, national and global governments begin to open up economies, there will be more opportunities for increased activity in the housing market. Home owners will seek changes in where they live, having been through more time at home than ever before, and in conditions they have not experienced. Changes will be desired for some and required for others. And governments will be doing their part to push the economy forward – they have the tools to do so and will. 

“Predictably, the number of home sales and listings declined in April given the physical distancing measures in place,” Colette Gerber, REBGV president-elect said, “People are, however, adapting. They’re working with the Realtors to get information, advice and to explore their options so that they’re best positioned in the market during and after this pandemic. We’re seeing more innovation in today’s market, with Realtors using different technology to showcase homes virtually, assess neighbourhood amenities with their clients and handle electronically.” 

East of the Fraser River, the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 688 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® in April, a decrease of 52 per cent compared to sales in March and a 50 per cent decrease compared to the sales in April of last year. According to the Fraser Valley Board, last month’s sales were on par with April sales in 1983 through to 1985; and new listings are in line with numbers last need in April 1981. There were 1,416 new listings in April, a 47 per cent decrease compared to March and a 58 per cent decrease compared to April of last year. April finished with 5,997 active listings, a decrease of 1 per cent compared to March’s inventory and a decrease of 24 per cent year-over-year. “Even though March’s initial numbers promised a banner spring, we expected the market to respond this way in April. Both sales and listings contracted in tandem as we all moved swiftly to embrace the measures necessary to respond to this global pandemic. Given that the volume of new listings coming on stream fell even faster than sales in April, the market remains stable,” Chris Shields, President of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. 

More important than the housing market right now is focusing on getting through this pandemic and working to stay healthy and supporting those around us. The real estate market will continue and be much more active as social distancing measures and relaxations of those measures are allowed. Be safe and be careful.