The price of a home in Langley has almost doubled during the past five years.
by Matthew Claxton
Langley Advance, January 9, 2007
For those buying their dream home in Langley, 2001 was a lot easier on the pocketbook than 2006. The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board released a five-year analysis of home prices to ring in the new year. Prices for a single detached home in Langley have risen by 86.3 per cent over five years, from an average price of $247,000 to $460,137. Townhouses and apartments were affected similarly. Townhouses prices have gone up by 70.8 per cent, from $164,235 to $278,782. Apartment prices have risen by 90.6 per cent, from $102,046 to $194,491. Few people would have predicted this kind of jump in 2001, said Fraser Valley Real Estate Board president David Rishel. "I try to avoid any kind of predictions," Rishel said. Realtors never know what will be next when it comes to housing prices and demand, he said.
In hindsight, he believes much of the jump was due to the globalization of the real estate market. British Columbia is a desirable place to live and was seen as a bargain by many compared to other world urban centres, said Rishel. That led to five years of solid price increases. The most notable fact about 2006 might be the fact that price increases and sales actually cooled off in the second half of the year. The best year for local real estate sales ever was 2005, Rishel said. "The first half of 2006 looked like a replay of 2005," Rishel said. By the end of the year, however, the number of listings in the Lower Mainland was up by 46 per cent and the price hikes had begun to slow down. The year overall was still great for people selling homes, said Rishel. "2006 shaped up to be the second-best year in real estate ever," he said. While he remains reluctant to predict the future, Rishel said other groups are guessing that the Lower Mainland will see lower but still respectable growth in the housing market in 2007.
"When we look at the market overall, we expect to see a little less frenetic activity over the past 18 months or so," said Cameron Muir, chief economist of the B.C. Real Estate Association. All the conditions that drove prices so high in 2005 are still present, said Muir. B.C. has strong job and wage growth, people moving here from other parts of Canada and the world, and relatively low interest rates. Muir, a Langley resident, noted that there are also local incentives to buy, like the retail corridor along 200th Street and strong job growth in Langley, Surrey, and Abbotsford. "The only thing that's not as positive is home prices," Muir said. With the average price of a listed Langley home approaching half a million dollars, it's getting harder for people to afford a first home. Some buyers are being squeezed out, said Muir. That is leading to the slowing pace of both purchases and price hikes. Muir predicts that increases in home prices by percentage, in Langley and around the region, will be confined to single digits rather than double digits in 2007. The slowing pace of growth has not yet been felt at the Township hall, said Mayor Kurt Alberts. If growth does slow substantially, it will be several months before the planners and clerks who deal with construction applications notice the let-up, Alberts said. "What it means is that there's not as many new applications coming in," Alberts said.