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News Article -Metro Sales Down, Listings Up

Metro Sales Down, Listings Up

Courtesy of Vancouver Sun
By Derrick Penner

Metro Vancouver's housing market showed a drop in sales in May, an increase in listings and stagnating prices.

"The wait syndrome" is how realtor Ron Antalek summed it up.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported Friday that there were 3,156 sales through the Multiple Listing Service in May, down 10 per cent from May a year ago, but above sales in 2008.

At the same time, the board reported 7,014 new listings added to inventory in May, 48 per cent more than May 2009, but less than the 7,648 put on the market in April. And it was the third month in a row where more than 7,000 homes were put on the market.

Antalek, an agent with Re/Max Ridge Meadows, said that with the mortgage market shifting to higher rates with tighter qualification rules and the European economy in turmoil, buyers are perhaps a bit more uncertain now than they were a few months ago.

"It's typical," he added. "As soon as the consumer feels maybe [the market is] adjusting, they want to wait."

With the flood of new listings being added to inventory, buyers certainly have more time to look and power to bargain, Vancouver board president Jake Moldowan said in an interview.

The inventory of unsold homes across the board area hit 17,492 in May, 10 per cent more than in April and considerably higher than a year ago.

Moldowan said 3,156 sales is still a significant number, but when considering sales as a ratio with listings, which was 18 per cent in May, "we're on the cusp of a buyer's market."

"The key here is more choice for buyers and more time for buyers."

The bargaining that went on, however, squeezed prices a little bit with the benchmark price, the average of typical homes sold, for detached houses slipping one per cent from April to $810,175. Across all property types, the benchmark price edged down 0.4 per cent to $590,662.

"To me that's stable," Moldowan said.

Downward pressure on prices is to be expected given the amount of properties for sale and the number sold, University of B. C. professor Tsur Somerville said in an interview, but buyers shouldn't expect that price pressure to increase.

The sellers rushing to list now, he added, are trying to cash in at the top of the market, but if they sense any weakness in it, they will take their homes off the market rather than take a lower price.

And at some point, the amount of housing inventory will decline to be more in balance with sales, so buyers should "start with the baseline that [prices] are