So I’ve been hunting in earnest for about a month, and I’ve looked at perhaps 25 properties. Mostly condos, but a few townhouses and one duplex. I found three or four places I really liked, but all had some sort of showstopper. Prices are dropping slowly on condos over the past 6-8 months, not so slowly on townhouses. What is changing dramatically is the number of properties sold. Filtering out the market-speak of the Victoria Real Estate Board and looking at the hard data, the ratio of properties sold to properties listed is falling dramatically: from 27.9% in May 2007, 21.4% in October 2007, 19.9% in April 2008, to 6.8% in October 2007. So the pressure on sellers must be intense, and I’d expect to see prices start to drop more. Sales of very expensive properties (over $1m) are even slower, only 7 selling out of 176 on the market in October, or 4%.
It’s a bit tough to judge by the stats month to month, as different types of properties are sold each month (condos for example can vary dramatically in quality and price), so I track a 6-month moving average to give better guidance. The most expensive 2-bedroom condo now available is asking $1,250,000, while the least expensive is $149,000. If a few of the 39 condos priced at over $1m sell, the numbers can be quite biased. With the smoothing of the 6-month average applied, the average condo in the City of Victoria has dropped from $339k in March to $293k in October, a drop of 13.6%. Prices in other areas of Greater Victoria have behaved differently, but I didn’t track them.
In Vancouver, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver has a much more factual summary without the mushy verbage of the VREB (they say “drop” not “soften”), and they use benchmark properties to measure true price variations. I can’t find where they provide the excellent detail that Victoria does though.
Overall I’m eager to get out of my tiny (540 sq ft, 50m2) rental apartment, but I do like the short walk to work and it’s an odd time to invest in real estate. Predictions vary of course on what will happen in Victoria. It must be tough on the agents right now though, with reputedly 1,366 of them in the area, there were only 316 sales in October.
All stats quoted here are publicly available. As a buyer, my realtor gives me access to more detail on property listings in my scope of interest, and I can see how much people are selling for vs. asking price, and what properties are selling or not. I can’t comment on those stats.