I pulled up the latest MLS sales statistics from the Victoria Real Estate Board and I have to say I am surprised at what happened in the market in April. There were only 584 properties change hands in April.
I have no idea why the number was so low. The 2011 April total is the lowest for any April for as far back as I have month to month data - my month by month information only extends back to January 2004. I had not expected the sales to be that low.
Going back just over seven years, April has normally been one of the top three months of sales in each year. If this pattern holds, 2011 could be a very bad sales year.
Meanwhile, the number of active properties on the market has risen to just shy of the highest we have seen in this region. At over 4600 active listings, we had about 15-20% more properties on the market than will sell in the next 12 months.
So what are prices doing?
For single family homes the regional average has held steady for several months now. In fact the median price for a single family home in April 2011 was the same as April 2008.
For condos, the average in March were lower than they should have been because of a number of very cheap sales counted that were elsewhere. When the VREB releases their averages for single family homes it is only for Greater Victoria. The average for condos includes MLS sales outside of the region. Factoring out non regional sales means March would have been up from February and the increase in April would have showed the continuation of a fairly consistent rise for the last five months.
The condo market in total value of sales remained about the same in April from March. It is among single family homes that the total sales value dropped. In April close to 1/5th of the total sales values was from condos, this is a high proportion of the market.
For both single family homes and condos, the gap between the average price and median price increased. Even though the change was small, the average price for single family home rose by just under 0.5% but the median price fell by the same percentage. What this roughly means is that the lower end of the market is falling price and the upper end of the market is rising. With condos both the average and median rose, but the average went up at twice the rate as the median.
So what does this mean?
I am trying not to be a voice of doom and gloom, but the data seems to be indicating that 2011 could be similar to 2009 or worse.
On the other hand, this should be a good time for someone wanting to buy a house. From what I hear, properties that do not have significant interest in the first week are simply not moving. I suspect that serious low ball offers will begin to be accepted after 45 days on the market.
For us the current market conditions indicates to me that our house is still up 15-20% from what we paid for it four years ago. Not that we have any intention of selling anytime in the next 15-20 years.