Five Trends That Will Shape Real Estate In Metro Vancouver

Please take a look at a recent article published by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver:

By 2041, more than 1.2 million more residents will move to the Metro Vancouver area, bringing our population to 3.4 million residents.

To accommodate these newcomers, we’ll need more than 574,000 new housing units according to Metro Vancouver data.

Given Metro Vancouver’s geographical constraints – the North Shore mountains, the Pacific Ocean, the US border, and protected agricultural land to the east – how will this shape our communities?

To find out, we asked urban design specialist Bob Ransford, who has spent the last 24 years tackling complex urban development and land use challenges.

Here are the five trends he believes will shape real estate in Metro Vancouver in the next decade.

1 Transit oriented development (TOD): increased density around transit lines and stations will occur if the TransLink referendum passes. Micro-suites of 250 sq. ft. with common areas for dining and fitness will become more popular with Millennials who live more in the street and in coffee shops and are used to sharing cars, rides and space. TOD reduces traffic, energy consumption and our carbon footprint. If the TransLink vote is no, TOD development will halt.
2 Small-scale density: to maximize land use and reduce building and infrastructure costs, we’ll see more small detached energy-efficient homes, cottages and multi-family units on small lots in pocket neighbourhoods. This increases affordability, lets younger families move into neighbourhoods and lets seniors stay in neighbourhoods.
3 Social purpose such as real estate owned by faith-based groups and other non-profits: we’ll see more development of property owned by places of worship, often located on prime real estate. Congregations increasingly want to use land more efficiently to build affordable housing and are not interested in making a profit. Developments will include smaller, affordable apartments.
4 Maker Spaces: a new trend that preserves industrial areas by combining light industry, for example, artisan manufacturing, with residential. Cities are economic growth engines and this new mixed-use zoning encourages industry which doesn’t produce noxious fumes or use heavy equipment in residential areas, helping jobs stay close to home. Examples include MakerLabs on Kingsway which rents laser cutters, routers, 3D scanners and printers, industrial sewing machines and woodworking tools.
5 Changes in tenure: fee simple, strata tenure and co-housing ownership will be joined by new types of shared ownership that helps promote small-scale density. Legislation will change to allow property owners to build and sell laneway homes and basement suites, which are presently only allowed as rentals.

So Hot Its Positively Toasty?

A “character” in my office (who shall remain nameless – although they know who they are) chimed up at a recent meeting that we should “drink a toast to the present market”. The reason being that all of us are now busy. I chipped back asking if this was simply because of the ‘toastiness’ of the market – ah la warm, hot, trending to toasty. A smart -A…. among smart-A’s. It is good to be part of the cheerful and not the dour.

What many in our midst have concluded is that factors like world petroleum prices are not as negative on our North Shore market as we had feared (likely the same for Metro Vancouver). Present activity, here and in other Metro locations, seems to bear this out. Yes, it is likely the somewhat ‘typically Canadian’ attribute, of fearing the worst that leads us (and our media) to continually predict poorer outcomes than eventually transpire. It seems to me that there is a constant tendency to ignore evident demand and to assume it’s intensity to be in imminent likelihood of evaporation. Consider the excessive use of the term “bubble” and the tantalizing inevitability of the “burst”. Not that I’m advocating ‘throwing caution to the wind’ (remember I am an ex banker 😉 ). The existence of an alternative descriptor i.e. ‘cycle’ is denied as it is too wishy washy to stir up emotions (and thereby sell copy?). Say it’s not so! Our 5th Estate could not be susceptible to such temptation.

I am not a conspiracy theory believer, but I often wonder if our financial sector and various governmental ‘persuaders’ do not tend to overplay the “fear of disaster” card. Possibly with the best intentions? Could our bureaucrats in Ottawa be dealing from this pack? Say it’s not so! No large or small ‘c’ conservative could ever indulge in such a practice. I don’t believe such a campaign has ever been pursued? Has it?

Finally an anecdote. This is the gist of a recent discussion with good North Shore friends. “We bought our first house, for $100K, from a guy who had paid $160K. Our first mortgage rate was in the teens. Yet we managed. What counts is the balance between what things cost, what you can pay (not afford) and what happens as time goes along. It’s the latter that no one can predict.” Thanks D and L.  Food for thought?

March 2015 Podcast

North Shore Real Estate Radio

On an ongoing basis I pledge both my continued personalized service and a commitment to my reduced  business ecological “footprint”. A significant part is the radio (podcast) library which I’m continually creating.

All North Vancouver Real Estate “Updates”, reports and information articles, checklists etc. will be archived on my website and available for download or desktop listening 24/7. You can access the information you seek when the spirit moves and not when someone pushes yet another flyer into your mailbox. I am most excited about these developments. Input as to the topics for “programming” you feel would be of interest is strongly sought. Please e-mail. This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call me 604 988-7368 and 1-800-665-1455.

Click on the “Podcast” Icon in the top right of this article to listen now.

March 2015 Numbers

And now, the figures for the initial two months of 2015 in comparison to those of 2014. North Van detached homes sold are up 29% from last year, attached (t/hses) up from last year by 33% and apartments up 24%. The detached average price is up 8% and inventory is down by 16% from 2014. Average prices up 9% (t/hses) and N/C for (apts). Inventory (t/hses) 97 vs.105, down 7% from Feb 28th 2014 and (apt) down 6% from last year for the same date.

In West Van, detached number of sales YTD for Feb 2015 is up by 54% from last year at that time. Average price of what has sold is up 6% from last year and inventory now down 7% from Feb 28th 2014. On the condo side – attached (t/hses) sold by Feb 2015 are down from 2014 at 10 vs. 12 units with a 21% decrease in average price. Active listings are up 20% year over year at (42 vs. 35). Again these  “small sample size” stats can be fairly meaningless-  this will become more relevant as the year progresses. Apartments reflect 22 sold in 2015 vs. 12 in 2014 with average price down 6% from Feb 28th 2014 and active listings down 26% from Feb 28th 2014.