Surrey housing sales slow while prices refuse to budge

February statistics show return to historical average after tepid January and hot 2016

New Fraser Valley Real Estate Board president Gopal Sahota: the return to normal numbers is a relief | Chung Chow

While home sales and listings have returned to their 10-year average, prices across the region remain high in the wake of 2016’s record-breaking year, according to new Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) statistics.

During February the FVREB processed 1,396 sales of all property types, a 41.5% drop compared with the sales total of 2,387 in February 2016.

The 10-year average for February sales now sits at 1,288. Last month, the FVREB received 2,171 new listings in February, a 0.3% decrease from January and a 33.9% drop compared with February 2016.

New FVREB president Gopal Sahota, who replaces outgoing president Charles Wiebe, said everyone feels more comfortable with the statistics this past month, compared with the reaction to last year’s market, which created a bit of a “panic mode” for both buyers and sellers.

“This is the kind of February we like to see,” said Gopal. “Last year at this time, the incredible demand created a market that was difficult for consumers.”

Sales also rebounded from a slow January – many attribute that month’s stagnant sales to the snowy weather – by posting a 43% increase, but prices seem to be stuck in neutral. The benchmark price for a single-family detached home increased in February by 0.4% compared with January and 20.4% compared with February of 2016.

Benchmark prices for townhomes (+0.5%) and apartments (+1.8%) also nudged upward from January. Active inventory was up 5.5% from January but is still down 9.4% when compared with February 2016.

Gopal said buyers seem to be warier compared with last year, but he did note some specific pockets across the Fraser Valley still see multiple offer situations.

“While the pace of the market has returned to more normal levels, pricing is still heavily impacted by the activity and demand seen throughout 2016. Understandably, this can create a challenging environment for consumers.”

Sales of homes in February across the Fraser Valley fell 60.7% year-over-year, and new listings dropped 47.9% over the same period.

Darin Germyn, a realtor for Macdonald Realty Ltd., said buyers have turned toward apartments and townhomes, both of which posted double-digit declines in new listings and active listings year-over-year, but which had double-digit increases in benchmark pricing compared with February 2016.

“Depending on what area in Surrey and what type of property, you’re looking at very different markets regarding competition and pricing,” Germyn said. “Inventory that is more affordable, like townhomes and condominiums, is very popular right now and with the lack of new product coming in compared with what is common for this time of year, demand is outpacing supply, and it’s fuelling a fast-paced attached market.”

One of the sub-regions hit hardest lately has been White Rock/South Surrey. Sales for detached homes dropped 67.3% year-over-year, while sales of townhomes fell 57.5% and apartments decreased 34.8%. However, the benchmark price for all three increased by double digits, the largest being detached homes at 23.8%.

White Rock itself has been hit by a string of restaurant closures along Marine Drive in 2017, and the city plans to invest $15 million in upgrading and revitalizing the area and make it more accessible for tourists and locals.

The latest FVREB stats appear to be in line with numbers from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Residential home sales in the region totalled 2,425 in February 2017, a 41.9% decrease from the record-breaking 4,172 homes sold in February 2016 and an increase of 59.2% compared with January.

In its news release concerning the statistics, president Dan Morrison echoed Gopal’s statement about how February appears to be a return to normalcy.

“February home sales were well below the record-breaking activity from one year ago and in line with our long-term historical average for the month.”