Cooling trend in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows housing market

Development continues in Maple Ridge’s scenic Silver Valley neighbourhood.   - Troy Landreville/TIMES
Development continues in Maple Ridge’s scenic Silver Valley neighbourhood.
— image credit: Troy Landreville/TIMES

Is it a blip or a trend?

That’s the question being asked in Metro Vancouver after the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reported that residential property sales in the region totalled 3,226 in July – a decrease of 18.9 per cent from the 3,978 sales recorded in July 2015 and a 26.7 per cent dip from this past June, when 4,400 homes sold.

This is the first time since January that home sales in the region have registered below 4,000 in a month.

When it comes to detached home sales in July, however, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows led the way amongst the 16 regions covered by the REBGV.

A total of 126 houses changed hands in the two communities combined last month (Richmond recorded the second most sales of detached homes among REBGV regions in July, with 123).

Still, the 126 combined sales in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows last month were more than 100 fewer than June, when 234 houses were sold locally.

And even with a cooling housing market, detached homes in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows continue to inch up in price.

The benchmark price for a detached home in Maple Ridge was $705,900 last month, up 1.9 per cent from June and 38.1 per cent pricier than July 2015.

The trend continued in Pitt Meadows where, with a benchmark price of $767,200, a detached home was 0.9 per cent more expensive than it was in June and 33.5 per cent higher in price than the previous July.

Realtor Philip Edge with MacDonald Realty has lived in Maple Ridge his entire life and has been working in the local market for the past decade.

He isn’t sure, quite yet, how the recently implemented 15 per cent foreign buyer tax in Metro Vancouver will affect outlying regions such as Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“Really, Vancouver is where it's going to be impacted, as foreign buyers want to buy in the city centre,” Edge said. “That’s not really going to affect the Maple Ridge area because we don’t get those kinds of big time buyers out here.”

However, he noted, the tax has creates some uncertainty throughout Metro Vancouver.

“Anything that happens in Vancouver, is really where the tidal wave starts from,” Edge said. “Any big activity change in the real estate market, it centres from Vancouver and it moves out in a wave, out towards our way.”

Edge believes that, even with continued development in the Albion area as well as in East Maple Ridge, supply and demand continues to dictate the local market, especially with the sales of detached homes.

“There’s not enough product in construction new starts, to keep up with the demand of buyers,” he said. “And also, we have more buyers than there is resale properties on the market right now.”

Affordability also comes in to play. Despite the mammoth price jumps over the past year, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows remain the most affordable communities among the regions covered by the REBGV.

“We’re getting a little bit of a spin-off effect of what’s happening in the bigger areas,” Edge said.

Meanwhile, REBGV president Dan Morrison said the market has levelled out.

“After several months of record-breaking sales activity, home buyer demand returned to more historically normal levels in July,” Morrison said.

Even with the cool down, last month’s sales were 6.5 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month.

“Home sale activity showed some moderating signs in late June and this carried into July,” Morrison said. “We’ll wait and watch over the next few months to see if this marks the return of more normal market trends.”

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that 9,900 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in July, down 3.4 per cent from the same month last year.

Total sales dollar volume was $6.57 billion in July, up 5.4 per cent compared to the previous year. The average MLS residential price in the province was up 9.1 per cent year-over-year, to $663,411.

“Housing demand has moderated in many regions of the province, after setting records earlier in the year,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA’s chief economist.

“The less frenetic pace of home sales will likely provide a much needed boost to the inventory of homes for sale. The rate of home price appreciation is also expected to slow from the unsustainable level exhibited this spring.“

Year-to-date, B.C. residential sales dollar volume increased 45.5 per cent to $56.5 billion, when compared with the same period in 2015.

Residential unit sales climbed by 25 per cent to 77,261 units, while the average MLS residential price was up 16.4 per cent to $731,189.

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