Andy McKay

Jan 05, 2009

House prices

Apologies to regular readers but going to be waffling on this subject for a bit. That's why there's category specific feeds :)

On Saturday we went with our realtor and looked at a few homes in the local area. The good news is that house prices have fallen significantly in our area over the period we've been away and some nice houses are within our reach.

But what was interesting, was that unlike in the boom years when we bought our last house, all the houses have been on the market for a long time - ranging from 2 years to a month (something that was unthinkable a while back). Some of the reductions were impressive, including one town house that dropped from 699k to 599k.

Compared to almost every other market in Canada the prices are still silly naturally, but that's what I get for wanting to live in North Vancouver. But the real question for me is how low will it get? It won't be as bad as the US. In the US the forced foreclosures by banks and dodgy loans pushed the market down. In the UK it was the lack of bank lending and the realisation that prices were over inflated.

In both cases there are reasonably regular reports of house prices. I blogged about this a while ago, but there is very little information on the market here. The Vancouver Sun mentioned this:

How bad the market in Canada is depends on who you talk to. Some Canadian commentators have called for the creation of a S&P/Case-Shiller index here.

Canadian housing market still looking good compared to U.S.

But we have the technology to crunch numbers what we need is data. Who do we turn too for data to figure this out?

Local government? Well for me that's the District of North Vancouver and so far I've been unable to find out information on sales. I did find a tool that shows you non-financial information on the property, but the terms and conditions say:

The User may not post The Content, or a modified form of The Content, on any electronic bulletin board, place The Content on-line in a downloadable format, or use The Content in a Website.

Property Information

So time to fire off some emails to my local government.

Realtors? Well that's probably the MLS. And that isn't promising with stuff like this in the Legal section:

All links to any CREA website must be accompanied by a prominent notice which makes it clear to a browser that the link leads to a website of The Canadian Real Estate Association

Unless CREA expressly agrees otherwise, all links to any CREA website must connect to the home page of the website
The prohibited uses include "screen scraping", "database scraping" and any other activity intended to collect, store, reorganize or manipulate data

Oh heck just broken those. Wake up people it's 2008!

CMHC might help and they do have PDF reports on the housing market. However they are concerned with housing starts (for example 2007-2008 there's a 100% drop in Condo housing starts in Greater Vancouver). However I've seen nothing on prices.

In the end I'm left with this printout of all house sales in North Vancouver that show all only 19 houses sold in North Vancouver last month for an average of 50,000 less than advertised. I can be sure about a few things it will not be as bad here, as the US, but it will not get better anytime soon, so no rush.

Meanwhile I feel sorry for the people who spent 870k on this house that was bought near what most people consider the peak for 389k and are now "excited about the idea of giving this '70s-style home a facelift". As some one who's been looking in this market - I think they saw you coming.

If anyone knows of a way to get house sales data - let me know.