The sheen is clearly off the housing market, with this week’s release of the MLS® data. As expected, residential home sales in British Columbia continued to trend lower in May. Sales fell for the seventh consecutive month, dipping 6.5% from April on a seasonally adjusted basis. Since reaching a market peak in October, annualized sales have fallen 30% to 75,500. The markets that led last year’s rise in activity, namely the Lower Mainland and Victoria, are now leading the downtrend.Note Credit 1 refers to seasonally adjusted (SA) sales. This blog typically refers to non-seasonally-adjusted (NSA) sales as do the real estate boards; both methods have their trade-offs: SA is good for comparing months long trends but NSA is more closely tied to the front-line effects of supply and demand. The seasonal adjusted data seem to indicate a persistent malaise of sales reminiscent of 2008 (though not as extreme). This was relatively obvious, given listings growth since the start of the year. Interestingly they claim an "unseasonal decline" in new listings for BC in May. Certainly in Vancouver and Victoria this did not seem to be true, however it looks like inventory is now not growing as fast, not because of a lack of new listings but because of a lack of sales and a large number of expiries. Remember that a recorded expiry, sale, or (usually) listing does not change the available housing stock.
On the supply side, B.C. recorded an unseasonal decline in the flow of new listings in May -- the first April to May decline since 2002. We expect to see a pattern similar to early 2008 emerge, where potential sellers hold back on listing their homes in response to higher inventory levels and price declines. However, month-end inventory levels will likely rise over the next few months as the new listings remain elevated and sales continue to trend lower.
We now segue into Central1 on rentals:
Results from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s semi-annual survey of the purpose-built rental market suggest that rental demand softened over the past year as higher unemployment, particularly among young workers, and a weaker economy slowed the rate of household formation. In addition, existing renters may have found alternative housing in the competing investor owned condominium rental stock or were induced into the ownership market by lower mortgage rates.A relatively bearish report on both the capital and income portions of the BC housing market.
Among British Columbia’s larger urban areas (populations of 10,000+), 21 of 27 markets reported higher townhome and apartment vacancy rates in April 2010 from a year earlier. The aggregate figure for all urban areas rose from 2.5% in April 2009 to 3.2% this year. Among B.C.’s largest markets, the largest relative increase occurred in the Victoria and Abbotsford Census Metropolitan Areas, while the Chilliwack Census Area was the only major market to report a drop in the vacancy rate. Additional slack in the rental market also impacted the rate of growth in market rents, which rose at a much slower pace in 2010. Average rents of properties in B.C. common to both the 2009 and 2010 survey samples rose by 2.2% this April, compared to 3.4% a year earlier.