Real-estate boards have repeatedly cited the lack of homes available for sale on the market.
However, critics suggest that these pronouncements are a marketing ploy to whip up demand.
A recent report notes that census records show that the number of private dwellings in Metro Vancouver has increased by over 26 percent since 2001.
So why have home listings not grown by about the same rate?
“That clearly indicates real estate is not being flipped,” Dexter Realty, a Vancouver-based property company, stated in its mid-month report for October 2021.
The report was prepared by Kevin Skipworth, who is a partner and broker as well as economist with the realty firm.
“People are holding on to the real estate they buy,” Skipworth wrote.
When sought for comment, Skipworth told the Straight by phone that a typical October has about 10,000 active listings in markets served by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV).
The Dexter executive’s report noted that mid-October had 9,161 total active listings.
The said level is much lower than the 13,670 active listings mid-point of October last year.
“In October 1995 there were 17,422 active listings in Greater Vancouver!” Skipworth wrote.
Instead of the market seeing a rise in listings, the “well has become much drier”.
“That is extremely rarified air for the market at this time of year, the lowest we’ve seen in over 30 years,” the report noted.
By phone, Skipworth told the Straight that the people are holding on to their properties because they, too, have concerns about finding a new home if they sell.
This is also a “sign of a growing population, a desire for real estate, and the need for more homes”.
Skipworth was asked about suggestions that real-estate boards are overplaying the issue about listings to prop up sales.
“Yes there are listings available on the market, but the amount of demand puts pressure on those listings that people are competing for,” he explained.
Skipworth also pointed out that “not every listing gets treated the same”.
“Some are not priced comeptitively. Some are not desirable homes. A number of active listings on the market are land assembly properties, which don’t cater to average buyers. The available homes that buyers are seeking out are lower,” the Dexter Realty executive said.
On October 12, the B.C. Real Estate Association reported that total active residential listings across the province were down 36.8 per cent year-over-year in September 2021.
The BCREA also noted that in the Fraser Valley and Victoria, listings last month were more than 50 per cent below September last year.
An October 4 report by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board stated that September 2021 ended with a total active inventory of 3,812 homes for sale.
This level marked a 6.5 percent decrease compared to August 2021, and was 48.3 percent below September 2020.
On October 5, the REBGV reported that the total number of homes listed for sale in September was 9,236.
The board noted that this is a 29.5 percent decrease compared to September 2020, a 2.6 percent increase compared to August 2021, and 27.7 percent below the 10-year average for the month of September.
Going back to Dexter Realty’s mid-October 2021 report, a total of 1,767 properties have been sold in REBGV markets for the first half of the month.
The number is greater than the 1,477 units sold at the mid-point of September 2021 and 1,741 at mid-month in October 2020.
“But what’s telling is that the number of new listings coming on the market this year is down 26% year-over-year so far in October,” the report noted.
It also suggested that governments should pay attention to supply when it comes to crafting policies around housing.
“Measures to control demand typically interfere with the motivation to sell,” the report stated. “So, if more supply is needed, then perhaps a carrot to entice selling is needed rather than a stick to control demand.”