Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Victoria, the capital of slow growth

2011 census data is out. If you think Victoria's housing "boom" was driven by an influx of people coming here, you may want to rethink that theory.

Turns out Victoria's growth lagged the provincial average over a 5 year period. Victoria grew at an annual average rate of 4.4%, which is down from the previous 5 year census period (5.8%). Victoria is growing. But it's not growing faster than elsewhere in BC, and in fact, it's not growing faster than most other cities of a similar size in Canada.

Why? If everyone wants to be here, why doesn't the census data reflect this?

Here's some theories:

  • Victorians refuse to be counted: The percentage of population that didn't fill out the census forms was higher here so the data reflects that and not actual population growth.
  • It's too expensive: Canadians, especially new and young Canadians, can't afford to live in Victoria.
  • Job prospects are dim: sure there's some sunshine-taxed IT jobs around, and a plethora of government-benefit-slave-for-life type roles, if you're lucky enough to have an aunt in the HR department, but for the most part, jobs in the CRD aren't the kind people rush from elsewhere to get.
So why are prices so high? If new resident demand isn't driving prices, what is? Could it be a limited supply?

CMHC says the average annual housing starts in the CRD is 2063. The average number of men, women and children moving here annually is 3036. Considering most of us shack up with others and kids if you got 'em (average household member number is either 1.9 or 2.2 IIRC depending on dwelling type), is it reasonable to conclude that builders are likely building at least enough supply to meet the demand? I'd say so. And then some.

The point of this post isn't to harp on Victoria not being a wonderful city that's desirable to many: it is. The point of this post is to highlight the data. Whenever you hear from the usual suspects that Victoria housing prices are driven by from aways moving here because everyone wants to live in this wonderful city, you now know this to be a myth. It's simply not true. 

What is true, is Victorians, whether they be life-long residents or relatively new, are willing, and seemingly able, to pay more for a house than their peers in other locales. I'd weight that statement heavily to the "willing" side. Victorians are responsible for the high home prices.


120 comments:

a simple man said...

Great post, HHV. There seems to be a great battle for what to believe right now with respect to the bubble. This data takes one of the arguments against a bubble away.

Further, since we have a disproportionately high average age, I am sure we have a higher than average mortality rate as well, which makes the numbers that much more important.

a simple man said...

However, Langford grew by 30.1%, the fastest growing census area in BC.

a simple man said...

Oak Bay is 0.6% growth.
Saanich is 1.4%
Central Saanich is 1.2%
North Saanich is 2.5%
Victoria proper is 2.5%
Colwood is 9.6%
Highlands is 11.4%
Esquimalt is -3.7%
View Royal is 7.0%
Metchosin is 3.9%

ginnad said...

Yeah, agree with a simple man - while the City of Victoria had slow growth, the western outlying municipalities grew quite fast. Langford's growth is especially impressive when you factor in Bear Mountain's empty properties.

Clearly there are some policies that have an effect on where people go when the come to the CRD.

The more interesting question for me is why some of the areas actually shrunk in population?
So what are the high growth municipalities doing differently?

Prices are high all over (in comparison to similar urban/suburban regions). So why are newcomers choosing Langford over Central Saanich?

Wendyriffic said...

I (infrequently) lurk on several housing blogs. I have been tracking the lower (less than $450,000) portion of the market here in Victoria. In the last thread, someone asked for sold versus asking prices. I happen to have a graph for that!

http://tinyurl.com/6mhln5e

On average, it is NOT "add $7000"....

patriotz said...

"So what are the high growth municipalities doing differently? "

Building on empty land? Ya think?

Where else is most of the population growth going to go?

Renter said...

Well, Langford isn't shy about removing land from the ALR and building for density. It's been doing it for decades. Central Saanich is (typically - depends on the council) much more protective of their agriculture and their regional growth strategy does not call for the denseness of Langford.

Personally, I prefer Central Saanich. I like to dream that I can own of those .5-2 acre lots some day. (I'm currently renting one that is 1 acre and have chickens, greenhouse, and sizeable garden.) Hard to find that in Langford, although of course you can in the Highlands, Metchosin, and Sooke. (But the drive in to town from those locations is too long for my taste. I work in the Royal Oak area.)

ginnad said...

Patriotz said:

"Building on empty land? Ya think?

Where else is most of the population growth going to go?"

Well, Colwood has plenty of empty land and is pretty friendly to developers as far as I know, and isn't growing nearly as fast as Langford. Why is Sooke growing at 17.7%, while Metchosin's growth is only 0.2%? (simple man, not sure why our numbers are different?)

I realize that there is a combination of policies which make a municipality friendly to developers, and therefore homeowners, but what are they?

Willingness to build facilities? Building codes? Rezoning process?

a simple man said...

sorry - the number for metchosin I reported was for the census tract - you are correct that for all Metchosin it is 0.2%.

vw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MC said...

VW, that price difference makes me so sad. I wonder what the long term socio-economic effects will be in places where the prices are so low?

MC said...

VW, that price difference makes me so sad. I wonder what the long term socio-economic effects will be in places where the prices are so low?

a simple man said...

vw - I believe that there is some truth to that thesis. Downtown is not longer the safe place it was 20 years ago. My in-laws actually avoid going downtown at all when they come to visit because they say it is too shifty for them. I have heard that from a lot of people that visit. Victoria has an image problem.

vw said...

MC
I'm not sure on the socio part, but the US as a whole created over 100 times more jobs than Canada did last month. Maybe to do with people not having to pay 5 to 10 times their income on a roof like we're still doing.

simpleman
Good observation on the downtown vacancies before it was reported.

http://www.timescolonist.com/business/Downtown+retail+vacancies+spike/6102611/story.html

Just Jack said...

Relative to Langford, Victoria City is NOT family friendly. And there is nothing in the immediate future that is going to change that.

The City of Victoria made the wrong choice, it went for smaller and smaller condominiums rather than family housing. Families are what drives an economy and Victoria is paying the price of not encouraging families to locate here with empty retail space, higher crime and higher taxes.

Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of a young family recently coming to the Greater Victoria area for work. Do you want a new home large enough to accommodate a growing family. A home with little to no repairs necessary for the next decade (cross your fingers) or do you want a small 60 year old home that needs continuous maintenance, high taxes and high energy costs.

Want Victoria to be for families again. Say NO to anymore condominiums. Say NO to garage suites in your back yard.

And say yes to new construction of attached and small lot homes. And encourage construction and the assembly of older housing in less desirable areas of Victoria by stream lining the development process.

happy renter said...

I'd be curious to hear what you all think of 144 Simcoe ($550,000). It's listed at assessment and seems to me to be far more "reasonably" priced (I say that, of course, with a grain of salt) than it would have been if it were put on the market even a year ago. But it's on a small lot (3600 sqft) and was built in 1911, although there have clearly been many upgrades. Is buying something on a small lot a terrible idea in the event of a downturn or stagnant market? Will it lose value far more quickly than uglier but bigger properties?

Introvert said...

Whenever you hear from the usual suspects that Victoria housing prices are driven by from aways moving here because everyone wants to live in this wonderful city, you now know this to be a myth. It's simply not true.

Perhaps a decent segment of the people who do move to Victoria (and buy, not rent) tend to have more money than average and are willing to pay the going prices for properties here.

As always, anecdotes are just that, but I can personally point to at least 6 retired couples from Alberta, in my circle of friends, family and acquaintances, who have moved to Victoria, had the means to do so, and had no qualms about our prices. "Of course prices are high; for the things I'm looking for right now, this place sure beats Calgary" is the prevailing sentiment.

Chickinvic said...

I've been here for 40 years (since I was one year old), and I'm sure as hell not willing and able to pay the outrageous price for a house here. I'm perfectly happy to keep saving my money and live in our co-op townhouse. Between DH and I we earn far above the average Victoria household (close to double) and we both feel there's no way we can afford the housing prices here (nor would we be willing to pay them even if we can - I don't like feeling I'm getting ripped off). People are F'n nuts, that's all I can say.

Leo S said...

The average income is not particularly high in Victoria, but someone else has made the point that that might be skewed by lower income students and such. Would love to see the income distribution and how that compares to other cities. I'll take a look at the new stats sometime.

Introvert said...

Speaking of Langford and Colwood growing, every family that buys a house in the West Shore means one or two more cars on the Colwood Crawl every day. As the "crawl" gets worse, decent houses in Saanich and Victoria become/stay all the more appealing to those who can afford them.

Chickinvic said...

Well, I know that the average incomes here in Victoria seem low for the people who ARE working (not counting students, etc). Jobs just pay crap here in general. Even though I do okay, I know I would be able to earn more doing what I do in many other cities (most of which have lower cost houses too). I really only stay for my family and the year-round outdoor lifestyle. I wouldn't buy here though - not on your life.

happy renter said...

If you've lived in Victoria and owned a house for a while, low salaries don't matter so much. But if you've arrived since the housing boom, good luck surviving and thriving here. I have colleagues who moved here in 2002 who live in Oak Bay and Fairfield in nice houses. They're very comfortable and have been since the day they moved here. My colleagues who moved here post-2006-7, however, are either up to their eyeballs in debt because they bought houses or they feel like they'll never be able to buy. Salaries here are ridiculously low compared to cost of living.

patriotz said...

"Victoria has an image problem."

More a substance problem, I would say.

And that's not just meant to be pun.

Chickinvic said...

Even in 2002 I would have found Oak Bay home prices out of reach, lol. Not as much as now of course, but they weren't exactly giving them away.

CanSpeccy said...

Population growth in OB is virtually zero because council will not permit subdivision of large lots, e.g. RS4 zoning, minimum lot size = 11,500 square feet, equal to two fifty foot lots or three 33 foot lots.

And council is prone to stick preservation orders on moldering clunkers on half acre lots in South OB.

A senile council for senile community, creating a high-priced mausoleum. Now taxpayers face the prospect of ever increasing subsidies for rapid transit so that ordinary folk in Langford, Colwood and Sooke can commute to Government and university jobs in Victoria.

Democracy does not seem always to produce optimal results.

Paula said...

"Is buying something on a small lot a terrible idea in the event of a downturn or stagnant market?"

Possibly, although it depends if this is considered more of a townhouse, and I would want to know more about the maintenance costs on a 1911 home, eg., have they upgraded windows, insulation, electrical, foundation.

happy renter said...

"Even in 2002 I would have found Oak Bay home prices out of reach, lol. Not as much as now of course, but they weren't exactly giving them away."

Agreed, Chicinvic, -- Oak Bay has never been a steal compared to other areas. But my point was that it was possible for someone with the same job as me to buy there then (on one income), whereas now it could never happen.

happy renter said...

"I would want to know more about the maintenance costs on a 1911 home, eg., have they upgraded windows, insulation, electrical, foundation."

Definitely, Paula. I would worry about that, too. I also worry (in the abstract -- I'm not actually buying a house until at least a few years from now) about mostly paying for the house when you buy a house on a small lot. I know there's been discussion on this blog lately about structure vs. land prices.

Alexandrahere said...

ChicknVic: I don't blame you for sticking it out in your co-op townhouse. I wonder how easy it is for people to get into one now? I know of someone who has a very nice co-op townhome. It has two full baths, three large bedrooms and could be made into four, a small light filled den, living room, dining room, kitchen with window and a sundeck. Even the outlook from all the rooms are fantastic! She is on her own now that the kids are fully grown and I believe her monthly payments are less than $600 per mo. She also has a decent income. How could you "afford" to move?

Paula said...

"I also worry about mostly paying for the house when you buy a house on a small lot."

I agree. Based on the (limited) data set I've been tracking, the houses with a small lot:house ratio take longer to sell, which wouldn't be good in a down market. It might make a difference if the lot is so small that the house is considered more of a townhome, which attracts a different type of buyer.

Chickinvic said...

Alexandra,

It's not too hard to get into ours. They are well maintained and well funded too. Your friend's sounds like a very cheap one. Ours are pricier compared to many of the other co-ops (just going up to about $980/month for the 2 bed/2 bath townhouse). Still a good deal though. With ours it is 2 bedroom units that come available (there are internal applicants for the larger units, so those vacancies get filled from within, which opens up a 2 bed unit for new people). If you only need 2 bedrooms you would have a pretty good chance of getting into ours.

Chickinvic said...

Actually, we are interviewing a few applicants tonight for a 2 bedroom unit for March 1.

happy renter said...

Housing starts in greater Victoria down from last year:

http://www.timescolonist.com/business/housing+starts+Greater+Victoria+down+from+last+year/6121766/story.html

Marko said...

"Relative to Langford, Victoria City is NOT family friendly. And there is nothing in the immediate future that is going to change that.

The City of Victoria made the wrong choice, it went for smaller and smaller condominiums rather than family housing. Families are what drives an economy and Victoria is paying the price of not encouraging families to locate here with empty retail space, higher crime and higher taxes.

Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of a young family recently coming to the Greater Victoria area for work. Do you want a new home large enough to accommodate a growing family. A home with little to no repairs necessary for the next decade (cross your fingers) or do you want a small 60 year old home that needs continuous maintenance, high taxes and high energy costs.

Want Victoria to be for families again. Say NO to anymore condominiums. Say NO to garage suites in your back yard.

And say yes to new construction of attached and small lot homes. And encourage construction and the assembly of older housing in less desirable areas of Victoria by stream lining the development process."

The market makes the choice in my opinion.

Bayview Promontory, Era, Mondrian, Union, etc., etc., etc...all small condos. Do you think the developer cares whether he or she builds small or large condos? They build what the market wants.

I pretty much disagree with everything you said other than the city should allow more attached homes. In my opinion this should be in addition to condos, garden suites, and anything density.

I am very pro solid concrete buildings downtown. Affordable, most people can get rid of their car; thereby, reducing their footprint. Investors can offer these units for rent and take pressure of the rental market, etc., etc......

I live in 530 sq/ft and have no problems with it at all. Spend all my time working anyway.

As far as downtown being unsafe - I've never had any issues; however, I can see how some people might have some concerns.

While my folks lived in Croatia we spent the majority of time in a condo and I don't feel like I missed out on anything - I am not sure why you can't have a family in a condo? Esepcially if it close to parks, etc.

Phil said...

That $36k home in Vegas sold for $150k in 2006 for a 75% decline.

In 2006 people in Vegas were saying "everyone wants to live here" and "Las Vegas is different". Sound familiar?

dasmo said...

I have a family and have friends with families and live in Victoria proper. I also see families everywhere in Vic. I find it very family friendly. Lot's of sandy beaches, the petting zoo, My 2 year old loves the coffee shop of which we can walk to. Parks a plenty schools a plenty. Again our 2 year old likes to go out though...

dasmo said...

Remember Las Vegas is a desert with an entirely fabricated environment and economy.

vw said...

I figure Vegas and Victoria have more in common than not. Both their economies were/are primarily based on selling homes to each other, and tourism. I suppose we have fabricated government too, but it looks like about half of all those layabouts are about to get their pink slips.

Just Jack said...

When it comes to the size of the condominium a developer builds to maximize profits.


Buyers determine what size of condominium they want and that market is loud and clear.

Over 50 percent of the condominiums that sold in the last 6 months in Victoria were between 732 to 1,132 square feet.
72 percent were between 632 to 1,232 square feet.

Only 14% of buyers chose condominiums of less than 631 square feet which is about the same for condos greater than 1,233 square feet.

What developers are building today are the condominiums that few people will want tomorrow.

The most appealing part of buying a micro condo is selling it. These complexes will always have a high turn over rate of owners and renters which will keep the prices down.

A better option would have been to encourage low rise attached homes such as town homes and not destroy our pretty little city with high rise towers. Where families could grow up and remain in the city.

Our traffic problems are due to a lack of co-operation between the cities. That's why Saanich could get a 65 million dollar traffic overpass where we did not need one. When it was the intersection of Admirals Road and the TC that needed it.

And when the day comes for you to have children, I have no doubt you will be spending a lot of time in the car taking them to their activities in the Westshore.

happy renter said...

"Only 14% of buyers chose condominiums of less than 631 square feet which is about the same for condos greater than 1,233 square feet."

I'm really surprised by this since it seems that so many buy small (ie, 590ish sqft) condos since that's all they can afford as first time home buyers. I sort of had it in my head that that was the norm these days, but obviously not.

Marko said...

Area: Victoria Core

Status: Pending/Sold

Sub Class: Condo

Year Built: 2010+

- 184 sales.

- 112 under 700 sq/ft

- 87 under 600 sq/ft

When looking at newer condos the demand is in the smaller units.

Chickinvic said...

I just cannot imagine feeling much joy living in a shoe cupboard sized unit. I think it is strictly a matter of that's all those people can afford. Nobody really wants to live in 400sf - I don't believe that.

patriotz said...

In 2006 people in Vegas were saying "everyone wants to live here" and "Las Vegas is different".

You forgot "running out of land":

At the current building pace in the USA's fastest-growing major metro area, available acreage will be gone in less than a decade, developers and real estate analysts say.

Land in Vegas is now selling for about 10% of what it was in 2006.

Marko said...

"Nobody really wants to live in 400sf - I don't believe that."

Well...I don't want to drive a Civic either...rather be in a R8 or at the very least a S5 :)

The market, due to factors such as affordability, has shifted the condo market towards smaller units.

Everyone would obviously choose 1,000 sq/ft over 400 sq/ft it they could.

dasmo said...

I get the "there's no bubble" comparison but surly you don't think you are buying a SFH anywhere on the island for anywhere close to $36,000 when our "pop" happens? My point is you are better of looking at what has happened in Seattle or Portlandia. Vegas has no intrinsic value to it's geographic location, it's all a mirage.

happy renter said...

"When looking at newer condos the demand is in the smaller units."

Yes, that makes sense. It's the stainless steel and granite condos that sell at under 600 sqft.

I agree that anyone would choose 1000sqft over 600. It's certainly a matter of affordability and of whether or not you want a brand new, small, downtown place or an older, bigger, possibly more suburban unit. I've lived in the brand new 590sqft downtown condo and done just fine for 4ish years. I kind of liked the extreme efficiency of the way it was designed so that I could tuck everything away. Eventually, though, I wanted to spread out a little.

patriotz said...

"Well...I don't want to drive a Civic either...rather be in a R8 or at the very least a S5 :)"

But you can't rent a R8 for the same payments as buying a Civic.

Just Jack said...

The size of the condominium that the typical buyer purchases has not changed with increased prices.

Because interest rates have dropped steadily.

When each $100,000 borrowed only costs around $450 a month today, you can see why the higher prices have not affected buyers wants in condo size when the typical 923 square foot condo in Victoria sells for $280,000.

So who are buying micro condos?

Most certainly first time buyers and investors. I suspect that many of the buyers who are living in these micro homes are hoping that when they have built up enough equity they can jump to a home and rent out the micro suite.

I don't think this will happen. Eventually, these micro condo complexes will be filled with renters with the owners voting down any improvements and just the minimal annual maintenance being performed.

pod_x said...

While my folks lived in Croatia we spent the majority of time in a condo and I don't feel like I missed out on anything - I am not sure why you can't have a family in a condo? Esepcially if it close to parks, etc.

You can have a family in a condo, but how many of them are 3 bedrooms? For the price you pay for one, you could buy a house in the burbs.

Developers build small units, because that's what sells pre-sales. The cheaper they are, the more speccers will jump in to fund the development. If you can put the deposit on a credit card, that opens up a whole new market. How many families will be jumping in with $50K+ and then sit tight where they are for several years?

Of course, eventually it's a network effect. The fewer families move in, the fewer family units are built, and even fewer families move in, schools close, amenities are repurposed for "young professionals", etc.

Introvert said...

In 2006 people in Vegas were saying "everyone wants to live here" and "Las Vegas is different". Sound familiar?

Yeah, Las Vegas crashed so Victoria will, too. It's exactly the same situation, only a few years behind. Economies, markets and situations aren't complex at all. Something happened there, so it has to happen here. Couldn't be simpler!

Introvert said...

I suppose we have fabricated government too, but it looks like about half of all those layabouts are about to get their pink slips.

Sounds like something out of a Mitt Romney stump speech.

If you think government jobs are going away, just wait a couple years. The BC Liberals will get trounced in the next election, and then government jobs will be back with a vengeance.

Leo S said...

I don't see any alternative to condo towers in the downtown. What bigger city anywhere has a family-friendly downtown?

You can't do it. You need the density downtown. Families that want a house and a yard can do the commute. You can't fill downtown with low density housing.

Introvert said...

Our traffic problems are due to a lack of co-operation between the cities. That's why Saanich could get a 65 million dollar traffic overpass where we did not need one.

It was Conservative MP Gary Lunn (who makes used car salesmen look trustworthy, by comparison) who pulled the strings to get the McTavish overpass into Mr Harper's stimulus plan. Don't get me wrong: I'm a proponent of stimulus measures during economic slowdowns, but an interchange at the airport was not a good choice.

Also, the McTavish overpass is in North Saanich, not Saanich.

And when the day comes for you to have children, I have no doubt you will be spending a lot of time in the car taking them to their activities in the Westshore.

Just as now, I will try my damnedest to avoid venturing into the West Shore when I have kids.

dasmo said...

This a better compare to here, Not Vegas...
http://tinyurl.com/82dmvam

Just Jack said...

We don't have the road system to continuously grow forever. We are a group of 13 municipalities each building their own little kingdom. Victoria will just stop growing and the population will shift to the Westshore and up the Malahat.

It happened to Nanaimo, eventually the old city was just bypassed and fell into decay. Projects like Uptown are already moving the center of the city. Silver City is the place to go see a movie - not downtown.

Unfortunately, Victoria is loosing out to cities like Langford and Colwood. If Victoria had not pushed for the Save On Arena, we would be closer to a town that closes up at 7:00 PM except for the occasional weekend that isn't raining or when the US Navy is in town looking for cheap hookers.

Eventually, the provincial government will decentralize and move to newer and more efficient offices where the majority of employees live and we won't have to spend money on new roadways.

The best days of Victoria are behind it, unless we encourage families to come back to the city. That means new schools and new recreation facilities. The city just doesn't have the money or the political will.

Just Jack said...

You know Introvert, the Westshore isn't the end of the Earth. Heck anyplace that has a bowling alley can't be all that bad. The restaurants are new, bright and clean. There are lakes, trails, recreation centers, etc. Most homes are new and of a good size for families. Lots of free parking for your monster truck, boat and RV.

The only problem is not getting run over by all those Victoria mom's in their SUV's going to and coming from Costco.

dasmo said...

I live and work in Victoria. It is far from decaying. The Bones of Victoria are unique. Those bones were set in place by the fact that it was built before the car. This is why it is a walkable, bikeable city that is interesting and intrinsically a tourist attraction. (unlike Vegas). A much more positive prediction is for the E&N the rail link to happen between the West Shore and Victoria which would make both Langford and Victoria much better places to live!

Leo S said...

I agree with you dasmo. Eventually they will wake up and fix the commuting problem. Victoria will not decay, but it will continue to densify while the outlying communities will become better connected.

Introvert said...

Greek debt deal reached

Guess the world won't end.

Nancy said...

leoS

toronto - toronto has a family friendly downtown - lived their 6 years. the only thing is bike riding - i would not want my kids riding around on their bikes even around Rosedale and Foresthill. it was great fun though, walking to shops and restaurants etc.

Leo S said...

Toronto downtown is nothing but highrises. How is that more family friendly than Victoria?

Phil said...

Of course another Greek bailout won't end the world. But they'll still default in the end. This is nothing more than an excercise in futility. Kicking the can down the road.

caveat emptor said...

By definition downtowns aren't usually totally family friendly. Lots of cars is not my definition of family friendly. That said there's lots of stuff to interest kids downtown and whenever we go downtown with our toddler I see tons of other families doing same. The nice thing about Vic is that there are some very family friendly neighbourhoods close to downtown. Sadly prices in those hoods are less than family friendly. And I agree it would be great to see some affordable developments in those areas.

Flight to the burbs and decay of the core is something that a lot of cities fight. The core of Victoria has actually held up better than most.

If you want to see dead downtowns look S of the border. Downtown Victoria has more life than Minneapolis or SLC, both much larger than Vic. And don't even get me started on Oklahoma City

ginnad said...

Another issue is property taxes. When I bought my house in Oaklands in 2001, the taxes were $1100 a year, after homeowner's grant. In 2010, the year I sold, they were $2550 after the grant. So in 9 years, taxes more than doubled. (I think it goes without saying services didn't double...)

My understanding from friends in the Westshore or Sannich is that their rate of increase was much smaller. One friend who owned a retail store downtown ultimately gave up and moved to Langford - the biggest reasons? His taxes had quintupled over the same time period. All while city police did nothing about people shooting up on his doorstep.

Anyway. I live in Courtenay now, which seems to have all the appeal of Victoria and more - climate, outdoor activities - and few of the drawbacks. And people pissing on the sidewalks here is pretty rare...

Leo S said...

Seems like a slow week so far for sales...

reasonfirst said...

Anyone else notice 314 Stannard. On the market for 6 days at 619K (MLS 303860). After, I am guessing a failed open house, cancelled the listing and re-listed at 579K a couple days later (MLS 304217). Trying to cover their tracks?

Just Jack said...

According to the 2011 census, Langford grew by 6,769 people or 30.1 percent. Victoria grew by 1,960 soles or 2.5%.


So what happened to prices in the two cities from 2006 to 2011?

In Langford the median increased from $395,000 to $487,500 or 23%

And in Victoria, prices rose from 455,000 to $575,000 or 26%

I bet most of you thought that Langford would have had a larger increase in prices because of the greater influx of people.

Nope.

The different increases in population from one district to another had little affect on prices. As long as those districts are located within the same market demand area.

Conclusion, this is a real estate market place. Not a Victoria market and not a Langford market. What happens to prices in one neighborhood has an affect on other neighborhoods.

So, Victoria is not different. Falling prices in the outlying neighborhoods will lead to lower prices in the urban core.

By watching the outlying districts of the market area, you can foretell where prices are going in the inner city.

dasmo said...

Yes and no. To use our neighbour down south as an example:

http://tinyurl.com/7ubkl2h

Introvert said...

Victoria grew by 1,960 soles or 2.5%.

It's "souls."

I bet most of you thought that Langford would have had a larger increase in prices because of the greater influx of people.

No, I wouldn't have thought this, actually--because if that logic were true, Calgary and Edmonton (the two fastest growing cities in Canada) would both have higher house prices than Victoria by now, and they clearly don't (and won't).

Just Jack said...

Sorry about the soles Introvert, glad to see you're watching closely.

So that would be 1,960 souls or 3,920 soles.

commuter12 said...

My understanding from friends in the Westshore or Sannich is that their rate of increase was much smaller.

Property taxes in Langford are supposed to be down by 1% this year. My private garbage pickup price and service is staying the same though. I just hope they never amalgamate because I don't want to pay for Victoria's stupidity.

dasmo said...

Amalgamation will probably never happen because of that attitude. In reality we are all one city and as people we act as such all living among each other. We just have these added layers of government and insulation that appear to benefit the "other" towns right now. However, because we are a 350,000 person city with a downtown that has those scale issues and a region with infrastructure needs of that scale we all suffer. The CRD fixes the symptoms but the main problem is None of us qualify for federal funding that relates to our scale. Victoria is only a 80,000 person city in the eyes of Ottawa and thus we can't get much help for the homeless etc.

If the tables turn and taxes rise on the other side maybe the other towns will warm up to the idea. I just might really start using Juan de Fuca rec center a lot more this spring and summer ;-) I certainly enjoy breakfast at Jasmine and a round of cheap golf!
http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/138404559.html

Marko said...

MLS: 304269 is a gem.

CanSpeccy said...

"toronto has a family friendly downtown"

LOL - If you're a millionaire.

Thought of moving there in '86.

There sure are lovely family homes in Rosedale and Forest Hill.

Only trouble was, our Oak Bay home was worth $140 K whereas the minimum price in Rosedale was about $1 million.

Now Oak Bay's caught up with 1986 Rosedale, so it ain't for most ordinary folks any longer.

This is just the dynamics of urban growth. Newcomers settle at the periphery where land is available and cheap. As the city expands, the center becomes a high-priced mausoleaum, like Oak Bay, with an average age soon past 50.

The problem with this dynamic is that the city becomes less and less efficient as people are compelled to travel further and further for jobs and for public facilities at the core. And the additional traffic degrades the core environment.

Victoria's politicians seem largely devoid of ideas to combat these trends, except to spend taxpayers money on more highway interchanges and money losing rapid transit systems.

Yet there are possible solutions. The downtown environment could be greatly improved by banning automobiles. A revolutionary idea in North America but one that has been adopted in a number of European cities.

Without cars, the downtown would become a much more attractive place for families even with increased population density.

a simple man said...

Wow - that is bad. You would think that someone would say, OK - let's invest $1000 just to clean it up and then take the pics.

The worst I have seen in Victoria.

caveat emptor said...

304269 - Nice location in Esq but OMG!!!!

Would have been nice to see a few more close ups of the pet feces on the floor.

commuter12 said...

I agree that they should ban cars from downtown but not for any reason other than to see the downtown core implode on itself. That is something I'd love to see. It'd be like a homeless and dopehead mecca. Actually this could be a good solution for the Vancouver downtown east side too they could ship them all over here.

Paula said...

This story:
Toronto waitress speculating on 3rd house

reminds me of this summary from 2011:
Federal report blames speculators for bubble

and this crazy one from 2006:
Las Vegas Speculators

Leo S said...

Sure, because all those european cities have imploded on themselves. Oh wait...

Car free zones promote diversity in services. Why aren't there more small grocery stores downtown? In a car free zone those would spring up instead of everyone driving out to Costco on the weekend to stock up.

Langford is more affordable but you certainly do pay a price. The place isn't exactly nice, and about as walkable as any other suburban abomination, i.e. not at all.

chris said...

Looks like our speculators are taking a break this year, or moved on to Toronto. Only 41% sell/list so far for Feb in Vancouver. 70%-80% comes to mind many past Febs. However I guess we're still under 40% ourselves, unless things change by Monday's stats. At least we can't blame the snow like January.

Leo S said...

Maybe the PCS just isn't being updated, but so far both my accounts are on track for a 50% drop in sales from previous weeks. 4 sales under 550k compared to 11 or 12 in previous weeks. 7 sales 550-900k compared to 15 last week.

DavidL said...

I showed a colleague the interior photos from 1218 Greenwood Avenue (MLS 304269) - he said: "It's a used Victoria gold mine!".

Just Jack said...

Too many gangsters in North America. If you ban cars from an area, the gangs move in.

What you have to do is up the lighting downtown. Fill every nook and cranny with bright lights and cameras. Broadcast it all on a TV channel of what goes on downtown. Make it illegal to give money to pan-handlers. Hundred dollar fine on the spot, for feeding the pan-handlers, drunk or drugged in a public place, unkempt hair or facial tattoos and the cop gets to keep $50 of it.

You'll have cops on a wait lists to work the downtown core.

You want to get rid of the drug trade. Arm the cops not with tasers but with visa machines. $500 fine payable by debit or credit card right on the spot.

Paula said...

JJ, what an excellent idea on the lights and cameras. I wonder what we'd need to do to get the city on it.

dasmo said...

Having areas of downtown car free is a great idea. I see it eventually happening to Gov st. It actually attracts more people to hang out in that area. I've seen many examples of the success of this concept. Aarhus stands out in particular. JJ, surely you jest?

MC said...

"Most homes are new and of a good size for families. Lots of free parking for your monster truck, boat and RV."

Ha. Thats funny. Being from Alberta I have yet to see a 'Monster Truck' relative to the size of the ones in the prairies.

"Langford is more affordable but you certainly do pay a price. The place isn't exactly nice, and about as walkable as any other suburban abomination, i.e. not at all."

Nor is Saanich!

MC said...

Also what the sh** on 1218 Greenwood Avenue . I would be embarrassed to be showing that place. And its only back half of a duplex, not in liveable condition and is still listed at $300 000!!! WTF. Its worse than those $900 000 townhouses.

Just Jack said...

Granville Street in Vancouver during the 1970's and 1980's. A real mess for the city to clean up. Drugs and hookers.

Keep the areas and people moving. The bad guys don't know if the next car is a mini van or a police cruiser.

dasmo said...

it's called "walking" the beat

Leo S said...

Nor is Saanich!

Depends on the area. There are some nice walkable neighbourhoods in East Saanich. Agreed on the areas like the Gordon Head wasteland though. I didn't like living there as a student and don't feel like moving back.

dasmo said...

IF someone buys 1218 Greenwood Avenue for 300,000 there is something wrong in this world...It looks like a demo that you can't even demo...

Anton said...

Re: 1218 Greenwood
The listing says it is very park-like with birds and squirrels. I wonder what it's like outside? I can't wait for the open house. As for the staging I suggest they go all out with bread baking in the oven and a fire or two or three burning.

CanSpeccy said...

"Too many gangsters in North America. If you ban cars from an area, the gangs move in.

What you have to do is up the lighting downtown. Fill every nook and cranny with bright lights and cameras. "

That may be true of downtown pedestrian areas in towns without a downtown resident population.

But a primary objective in creating traffic-free downtown areas is to make an attractive place for people to live -- which is, or at least used to be, one of the recognized functions of a city.

When you have a mix of small businesses and high density residential accommodation you create an environment that is not crime friendly. On the contrary, people with an interest in the place are present in sufficient numbers to assert control over their own environment.

At least, that's what Jane Jacobs maintained, and I am not aware that anyone has seriously disputed he contention.

Alexandrahere said...

re: the Greenwood listing. If you could pick up the place for $275K and the neighbours next door were owner occupiers (with a rental suite down) and they looked after their side well....I would consider giving it a try. For one thing the area is great. The reno's on the place (if the roof is in good shape), would be approx. $65K. So say total costs brings the price up to $345K. Now you have a totally renovated bright 3 bed. home up and a nice 2 bed in-law down. The home would now be worth at least $470K. If you rented the entire home you could conservatively receive $1700 per mo. up and $1300 down. Giving you $36,000 per year. Subtract taxes $2800?, insurance $900, water $225 and upkeep $1200 = $5125; netting $30,875K before income tax. If you invested $345K in a 5yr GIC at 3.25%, you would receive $11,213 per year before taxes. So you would be getting 65% more on your investment if you bought the house versus the GIC. From an investor's point of view, I would probably try to make a deal on the house.

Marko said...

^ you think you would be able to attain rents that high?

patriotz said...

Well I dunno, maybe somebody is willing to pay more to rent in Esquimalt than in Oak Bay.

$1650 / 3br - 3 bed, 2 bath half Duplex (side by side) (Oak Bay)

There are also lots of above-ground 2 brd suites renting for well under $1300/month.

dasmo said...

"The home would now be worth at least $470K." more like $320K an rent the whole place for $1200 tops.

Alexandrahere said...

405 Kinver in Saxe Point area just sold for $490K. Same area, 2100 sq ft. One bed suite in basement (below ground level). As for the rents, depends on how nice it is I guess. Regardless, compare the place renovated with a $375K condo. In the end, I believe the house if you live in it, with the rental suite paying for your taxes, house insurance, water, heat and newspaper would return you a much better profit. Marko, you were the one who brought the house up saying it was a good buy.

Marko said...

I haven't done an analysis as to whether it is a good buy or not...I just brought it up because of the pictures...

Anton said...

I doubt cat poo place could be made nice for $65K unless you did a lot of the work yourself. It has never been reno'd and is pure cheap 1970s decay. Both bathrooms need gutting to stud walls and the kitchens should have the same treatment. New flooring throughout required as well as repairs to the drywall (water damage?)and new paint. The fixtures and baseboards need updating and the windows look to be single pane. Also count in the price of a new deck as I am pretty sure you can't have a sliding door that opens 8 feet up.

Rhino said...

"The home would now be worth at least $470K. If you rented the entire home you could conservatively receive $1700 per mo. up and $1300 down."
Those numbers seem very high to me. I just rented a whole house (no other tenants) in James Bay for 1500 per month

Taigaa said...

Has anyone else noticed an increase in listings that are listed way way way above assessed value to start with and then have huge drops? Goyette Rd, a few places in Dean Park.... I was wondering if that is due to more realtors competing for the listing since they don't have much on the go, and going with whatever crazy price the homeowner is imagining to get the listing and then talking them down later? I am seeing this more than I used to it seems.

Just Jack said...

I have noticed the same thing Taigaa.

What I think is happening is that the drop in prospective purchasers in the last two years has left most of the real estate activity in the core districts.

In the last 6 months close to 70 percent of all the sales happened within a 10 mile radius of downtown Victoria. That left Sooke, Langford, Sidney, North, Central Saanich with 30 percent of the sales. Even though these same neighborhoods have more than 50 percent of the active listings.

The wave of buyers have moved away from Dean Park and is now closer into the cities. That means you need to make a significant cut in price to encourage a buyer to look at Dean Park.

Meanwhile, sellers are viewing the marketplace as it was a year or so ago when there was a better balance of buyers to sellers in the Dean Park neighborhood. Hence the higher initial asking price.

happy renter said...

I realized today that it's probably been about a year since anyone has told me that I should buy now or be priced out of the Victoria market for ever. That used to happen all the time. My colleagues, friends, and family still ask me when I'll buy pretty frequently, but they no longer seem to put it to me in terms of being priced out. Instead, it's now something more along the lines of how I shouldn't be "throwing money away" on rent. Interesting and telling shift.

happy renter said...

How much do you figure this house (listed at $1750/month to rent) would sell for?:
http://victoria.en.craigslist.ca/apa/2833256758.html

dasmo said...

More than a $375K mortgage at 2.99%

Alexandrahere said...

re: Greenwood, you are right, I guess I was overly ambitious about the rents. I haven't viewed the place, but if it turned out to be structurally sound, and I didn't have to rip all the walls down to the studs, the wiring wasn't aluminium and the other criteria I mentioned before was positive, I would still think the place would be a fairly good investment i.e. if I could get it for $270-275K. $65K would not be impossible for the reno in this case. $340K for a three bed, one bath, living room, dining room, deck, in a good area close to town with a two bedroom suite is a good investment considering all the other options out there. I am fortunate to know good, reliable, and honest painters, plumbers and electricians as they have done work for me in the past.

I have friends with a 90's home in View Royal and they have a nice two bed one bath suite at the ground level. They rent it out for $1345 per month including all utilities. The suite is not as convenient to all the amenities that Greenwood offers. But again, I haven't personally looked at rentals for quite some time.

Phil said...

Happy Renter - That Linden st rental assessed at $592K.

Buying with 3% rate at 25 years you would still be paying about $700 more per month (plus prop tax and maitenance)to "own" it.

If and when your rate goes up by just 1% you will then be losing over $1k per month vs renting. Scary times.

happy renter said...

Renting the Linden place with lawn and garden care included sounds pretty sweet compared to owning... I thought this might be a good rent vs. own example. $1750 sounds like a lot of rent, but it's a "good deal" for that particular house right now.

happy renter said...

Also, thanks, Phil and dasmo!

Marko said...

SFH Average MTD running 637k
Condo Average MTD running 328k

We'll see if this can be maintained for the rest of the month.

a simple man said...

Let's hope not!

Animal Spirit said...

Marko - do you have the raw SFH sales data so I can calculate the median and analyze the distribution? Average is pretty meaningless given the low number of sales so far in February.

Marko said...

There are 75 SFH sales so far.

Number #38 is $519,900

However, #41 is up to $573,000...

The median could vary big time at this point.

Leo S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leo S said...

These little garden suites are cool.

This is what I want to do, get a place with a big lot eligible for a garden suite and put something like this in for the mother in law.

Animal Spirit said...

Thanks Marko - of course with the small #'s the median can easily jump around. FWIW, do you have sale #35? This would let me know the up and down sensitivity.

For others, the reason that I haven't posted much in the last while is that with so few sales (and overall listings), the data is so thin that meaningful interpretation is difficult. Still collecting data, but really nothing to show right now.

a simple man said...

thanks, animal spirit - that data is so sparse is a very telling stat in itself.

Marko said...

Monday, February 13, 2012 8:00am

MTD February

2012 2011

Net Unconditional Sales:

179 488

New Listings:

557 1,276

Active Listings:

3,629 3,714

Please Note
•Left Column: stats so far this month
•Right Column: stats for the entire month from last year

warnsmeth said...

Yeah, Pretty good post and information. I think the growth is slow but worth. I believe that this growth gradually will increase.
Apartments for rent in victoria bc