Peter Simpson, retiring CEO of the Greater Vancouver Homebuilders' Association wants to offer reassurance to new Lower Mainland homeowners worried about the shrinking value of their houses.

Don't be dazzled or depressed by price changes. They go down, then they recover and rise over time, he says.

It's natural for first-time owners to see the latest real-estate statistics and fret about shifting values.

In his early 20's Simpson sold his Corvette convertible to help scrape together a $10,000 down payment on a $38,500 house in Ontario. He was earning $138 a week..."I woke up for three nights in a cold sweat wondering what the heck I had done," he says. "It worked out. It always does work out. The sun comes up the next day."

The association predicts moderate price drops in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Simpson believes people only hurt themselves if they become obsessed with tracking week-by-week house price changes.

"They should not consider their home and its value as a pork belly future," he says. "That causes a lot people angst."

"Live in it, enjoy it and if you have to move somewhere else, sell it and move on."

If you must worry about something, worry about the resistance from some people to letting their neighbourhoods evolve into a mix of single and multi-family housing, Simpson says.

Densification is the key to providing affordable housing along arterial and even up side streets in existing neighbourhoods.Single-family homeowners who oppose multi-family housing in their neighbourhood should ask themselves two questions, he says: Where will their children live who can't afford their neighbourhood? And where will aging homeowners go when they can't climb the stairs of their current house but want to continue living nearby?

"People who want to keep their neighbourhoods exactly as they are should be careful what they wish for. They may not be able to live in their house as long as they anticipate." 


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2012 Fourth Quarter Housing Forecast today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in British Columbia are forecast to decline nearly 10 per cent to 69,200 units this year.


Recent tightening of mortgage credit regulations has squeezed some potential buyers out of the market. Reducing the maximum amortization for high-ratio mortgages from 30 to 25 years was equivalent to a 100 basis point increase in the mortgage rate for first-time and early move-up home buyers. 


However, strong full-time job growth, persistently low mortgage interest rates and an expanding population base point to more robust consumer demand in 2013." Most regional markets remain tilted in favour of home buyers, meaning there is ample supply for house hunters. Against this backdrop, home prices are expected to remain relatively stable for the balance of this year and through 2013.







  For the second month in a row, property sales on the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s MLS have decreased to historically low levels. In September, a total of 857 sales were processed on the MLS®, a decrease of 26 per cent compared to 1,165 sales in September 2011 and 20 per cent fewer than in August.

   “The federal government’s tightening of mortgage rules this past spring may be having an effect. We’ve seen this pattern before when rules have changed and hopefully given the strength of our local economy and stability of interest rates, this slowdown will be short term.”

  Olson adds that properties offering more affordability remain in demand. “Sales of more expensive homes – single family detached – have decreased disproportionately more than the sales of townhomes and apartments. In fact, apartment sales last month in Surrey, Langley and White Rock were higher or comparable to September of last year keeping prices across the Fraser Valley resilient.”


   Sagging homes sales and flat prices prompt speculation that the "housing bubble" might be about to burst - a prospect that grabs the attention of many British Columbians. BUT..there is no housing bubble according to Tsur Somerville, director of UBC's Centre for Urban Economics in the Sauder School of Business. "A bubble isn't just defined by high prices" Sommerville said and identifies a housing "bubble" as conditions being akin to what happened in 2007. "It didn't matter what a condo looked like or who built it, people were lined up around the block and saying 'I'll take 12 please'. That's more of a bubble environment."


   If there was a large number of unsold units coming onto the market or a huge change in the economic environment, that would cause prices to tank. For prices to go down significantly contends Somerville, "You need people who have to sell, either because the economy has collapsed and they don't have any income or developers have built a whole bunch of units that are unsold and the bank is screaming at them or foreclosing." None of these conditions appears imminent. It would take some negative shock, such as an economic meltdown or mortgage rates jumping from 4% to 9 or 10% to trigger seriously lower prices. 


   BC Real Estate Association's Chief economist Cameron Muir is optimistic, predicting increased sales in 2013 due to continuing low interest rates, population growth and more full-time jobs. "I would expect to see sales pick up before the end of the year, at least on a seasonally adjusted basis," Muir said. BCREA is forecasting MLS sales to go up by 7.5% in 2013. 


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